What a roller coaster this match was.
In the end, however, what needs to be remembered is that County picked up an away point and did so against last place Hearts, who still trail County by 14 points. County are also still two points ahead of Kilmarnock F.C. with a match in hand over both clubs. That is important because 10th place is a “safe place,” 11th is the relegation playoffs, and 12th is automatic relegation to the Scottish Championship.
The match started brightly, and in the 23rd minute County took the lead when midfielder Graham Carey intercepted a weak pass from Heart’s Callum Tapping, drove to the goal and put County ahead. Unfortunately, the lead lasted all of five minutes, with Callum Paterson scoring an equalizer for the home side. Two minutes later County’s Richard Brittain earned himself a yellow card- remember that.
That was all the scoring in the first half, but it didn’t take long for County to regain the lead when, only five minutes into the second half, Melvin De Leeuw scored his third goal of the season. De Leeuw’s initial shot crashed off the underside of the crossbar, but Hearts failed to deal with it and De Leeuw was able to gain possession of it again and slot the ball low into the corner.
Having retaken the lead, things were looking good for County- an away win, the potential to jump up two places in the table, etc.. This optimism lasted only about 15 minutes, at which point Brittain received his second yellow and the subsequent red.
Smelling blood the young Hearts players began to attack the County goal in waves- but County held on. They held on…almost long enough. In the 89th minute Hearts had a corner kick and, in the scrum that followed it Hearts’ Ryan Stevenson was eventually the one given credit for pushing the ball over the line.
Looks like County will have to wait until the 30th when they meet Hibernian in the Scottish Cup.