Published: 14/10/2017 17:38 - Updated: 15/10/2017 08:52

Coyle's home County bow ends in defeat against 10-man Hearts


Ross County manager Owen Coyle.
Ross County manager Owen Coyle.
ROSS County crashed to a 2-1 home defeat against 10-man Hearts in the Ladbrokes Premiership today.
This was Owen Coyle's first home game in charge of the Staggies and he was looking to build upon his 2-0 debut win at Kilmarnock a fortnight ago.
There was no surprise, therefore, that he stuck with the same starting 11.
The Jambos arrived in the Highlands four points behind sixth-placed city rivals Hibs, with Craig Levein winning one of his four games in charge since taking over the hot-seat.
Hearts are using Murrayfield as their home venue until November 5 and their two wins had been achieved outside Edinburgh ahead of this one.
Their last game ended in a 2-1 loss at Dundee and there were two changes from that match as ex-County star Don Cowie and Prince Buaben came in, with Ross Callaghan and Aaron Hughes dropping out.
A one-minute silence was observed before the game for former Highland League title-winning County manager Ian McNeill.
It was a lively start from both teams and County's best early chance came when a sweet Jason Naismith cross had to be stabbed behind by Christophe Berra, with three navy shirts closing in.
At the other end, a Jamie Walker delivery needed to be dealt with as Hearts probed for an opening in an even opening period.
Walker then flashed a shot just over the top before Cowie guided a low effort wide of the left post as the Edinburgh side upped the tempo.
The game then came to life with two goals in three first half minutes.
Coyle would not have been impressed as a swept-up County corner led to a Walker attack and his pass being slotted home by Esmael Goncalves.
However, the Staggies' reply was swift as, on 38 minutes, Keillor-Dunn was on hand to bury a cross from the impressive Naismith.
It was game on now.
A deflected header from Berra almost nudged Hearts back in front as the began the second half on the front foot before the game became scrappy with bookings for Marcus Fraser, Goncalves and Kyle Lafferty.
On the hour mark, Lafferty helped to line up his side's second goal as his cross was fed on by Connor Randall and Walker slammed the ball beyond Fox for a 2-1 advantage.
Hearts though played the final 25 minutes after Connon Randall was sent off by referee Willie for a second bookable offence.
County will be looking to get back to winning way next weekend when they host Hamilton, who they are level on seven points with in the bottom half of the table.
Ross County: Fox, Fraser, Naismith, Gardyne (Mckay 77), Curran (Mikkelsen 63), Davies, Draper (Schalk 69), Lindsay, O'Brien, van der Weg, Keillor-Dunn. Subs not used: McCarey (GK), Kelly, Chow, Dow.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Smith, Souttar, Berra, Walker, Buaben, Lafferty, Cowie (Henderson 46), Randall, Cochrane (Brandon 46), Goncalves (Grzelak 67). Subs not used: Hamilton (GK), Milinkovic, Stockton, Petkov.
Referee: Willie Collum.
Attendance: 4892.
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