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Billy Mckay brace hands Ross County survival lift in 3-2 win over Kilmarnock

Ross County forward Billy McKay celebrates making it 3-1 against Kilmarnock with Blair Spittal.
Ross County forward Billy McKay celebrates making it 3-1 against Kilmarnock with Blair Spittal.

A brace from Billy Mckay helped Ross County to a vital 3-2 win over relegation rivals Kilmarnock in Dingwall.

Mckay scored either side of half-time, after Kyle Lafferty had put the visitors into the lead.

Leo Hjelde also found the net for County, scoring his first senior goal in the process, with a second-half penalty from Lafferty reducing the deficit.

Victory takes County three points clear of the relegation play-off place and sends Killie bottom, with Hamilton drawing at Aberdeen.

County made four changes from the 1-0 defeat to St Mirren a week ago, with Michael Gardyne, Tony Andreu, Hjelde and Stephen Kelly dropping out. In came Jordan Tillson, Alex Iacovitti, Coll Donaldson and Billy Mckay.

John Hughes’ side had won three of their last eight games and find themselves in the thick of the relegation battle, against a team who had yet to win a game under new manager Tommy Wright.

But they were given the perfect start by Lafferty on 18 minutes, after his initial shot broke back to him off a County defender he lashed through a crowd of players into the bottom corner.

The home side had barely threatened, aside from a scuffed effort wide from Blair Spittal. They were also soon to lose Carl Tremarco through injury, with the defender pulling up after making a clearance in front of Rory McKenzie and Hjelde coming on.

Kilmarnock’s Kyle Lafferty strikes to make it 1-0.

Lafferty was involved in another flash-point in the first half, catching Iacovitti in the head during an aerial challenge. Despite furious protests from County players, referee Euan Robertson only showed a yellow card.

But it took little time after that for the Staggies to level the scores. Jason Naismith had peeled off to the right hand side and delivered a great ball into the box, where Mckay timed his run to stay onside and finish from close range.

Buoyed by the goal before the break, County emerged into the second half rampant.

A slide-rule pass from Naismith picked out Hjelde in the penalty and he shot across Colin Doyle into the far corner.

Two minutes later they had extended their advantage, with Jordan Tillson’s pass brought down by Mckay and the striker finished beyond Doyle for his second of the game.

Ross County’s Leo Hjelde makes it 2-1 to his side against Kilmarnock.

The hosts were then denied what appeared a clear penalty when Mckay was scythed down by Brandon Haunstrup just inside the box. Robertson, however, was unmoved.

He was inclined to give a spot-kick at the other end, however, with 13 minutes to go for Keith Watson dragging down Greg Kiltie. Lafferty got his second of the game from 12 yards to make for a nervy finish.

Despite a flurry of balls into the box, the pressure on Ross Laidlaw’s goal did not come and there was still time for Ross Millen to be sent off for foul and abusive language in the dying embers of the game.

However, County held firm to claim an important three points at Victoria Park.

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