ROSS County slipped to second bottom spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership as a Paul Hanlon goal earned Hibernian a 1-0 win at Dingwall today.
The Staggies, looking to get their second league win of the season, after their 4-0 loss at Celtic, pitched former Caley Thistle striker Billy Mckay in for his first start.
Keeper Scott Fox, who became as dad yesterday, returned to the nets at the expense of Aaron McCarey, while Reghan Tumility and Craig Curran also were handed starting shirts, with Sean Kelly, Davis Keillor-Dunn and Alex Schalk beginning the afternoon on the bench.
Hibs made three changes from their midweek 3-2 Betfred Cup quarter-final tie against Livingston with Steven Whittaker, Dylan McGeouch and Simon Murray in for injured skipper David Gray, Vykintas Slivka and Danny Swanson, with the latter two named as subs.
This was the second meeting of these sides this term following County's penalty shoot-out win against the Hibees in the Betfred Cup after a 0-0 draw over 90 minutes in July.
Martin Boyle had the first chance of note for the visitors when he crashed a 20-yarder over the top after a slick build-up from the men in green.
And it didn't take long for Hibs to get their noses in front as Paul Hanlon crashed the ball home from close range from a John McGinn corner.
County boss Jim McIntyre often stresses about the importance of the first goal, but again County were having to chase from a goal down.
The Dingwall aimed to reply swift and Michael Gardyne and Ross Draper saw their efforts go close.
They kicked on from that without ever testing keeper Ross Laidlaw and Simon Murray at the other end saw his deflected drive held by Fox.
On 33 minutes, Laidlaw was called into action, however, when he saved from Mckay after Gardyne knocked on a Tumilty delivery from the right.
That was as good as it got for the home side in the first half and Hibs went in happy enough with their advantage, although their boss Neil Lennon had been roaring for more from his players.
County manager Jim McIntyre made a half-time switch when young gun Davis Keillor-Dunn came on for Tumility.
Eight minutes after the restart, Fox came to County's rescue when he pushed clear a net-bound 25-yard free-kick from Stokes after Andrew Davies conceded the set-piece.
County almost levelled matters on the hour when Gardyne connected with a Mckay cross, but Laidlaw pushed it on to the post to keep the visitors ahead.
Fox pulled off another impressive save with 15 minutes to go when he pushed clear a Stokes drive after the striker attack and shot with menace.
Schalk was denied by Laidlaw with 10 minutes to go as County failed to make the breakthough despite their best efforts.
County's next match is next Saturday when they travel to Kilmarnock, with Hibs visiting champions and leaders Celtic.
Ross County: Fox, Draper (Lindsay 64), O'Brien, Davies, van der Weg, Curran (Schalk 62), Gardyne, Naismith, Fraser, Mckay, Tumility (Keillor-Dunn 46). Subs not used: McCarey (GK), Chow, Kelly, Schalk, Mikkelsen.
Hibernian: Laidlaw, Whittaker, Hanlon, Bartley, McGinn, McGeouch (Slivka 85), Simon Murray (Matulevicius 85), Stevenson, Boyle, Ambrose, Stokes. Subs not used: Marciano (GK), Swanson, Martin, Fraser Murray, Porteous.
Referee: Andrew Dallas.