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DINGWALL DRAMA: Josh Sims settles 5 goal relegation thriller in Ross County's favour in stoppage time after day of drama against Livingston in Dingwall

By Alasdair Fraser

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Ross County's Josh Sims.
Ross County's Josh Sims.

Ross County (2) 3

Livingston (0) 2

Att 3,346

(Scorers: County - Brophy 21, 27, Sims 90+2; Livi - Anderson 47, 86)

Josh Sims rode to Ross County’s rescue all over again as a five-goal relegation thriller ended in triumph for the Staggies.

The former Southampton attacker was the man who hit the winning penalty for the Dingwall team against Partick back in June to preserve Premiership status.

In what was the hosts’ most crucial match since that celebratory occasion, Sims popped up from the bench again to seal a simply massive win.

The 3-2 triumph, puncturing the Lions courageous second half fightback from 2-0 down, took County back to six points above the bottom side.

County had been starved of that winning feeling through 12 league games stretching back to a December 5 triumph over Motherwell.

In interim manager Don Cowie’s third game in charge, they made two changes, with Yan Dhanda out injured and James Brown relegated to the bench.

Into midfield came Forest Green Rovers loanee Teddy Jenks, while Jordan White’s start saw was a bold statement from Cowie, joining Eamonn Brophy and Simon Murray in a three-strong strikeforce.

The positive ploy was to pay-off handsomely in the first half hour.

Livingston were unchanged, having broken a run of 16 winless matches with a long-awaited home victory over St Mirren.

Ross County's Eamonn Brophy.
Ross County's Eamonn Brophy.

The bottom of the table side started positively enough, but County always looked more dangerous.

Early on, Brophy was wasteful in the extreme after being set up for a free strike by MIchee Efete, only to fire wildly over.

Victor Loturi showed far more composure for County when a corner broke to him 25 yards out.

The Canadian’s brilliantly-controlled strike was flashing under the bar before Livingston keeper Shamal George leapt to tip it over.

The weight of pressure told after 21 minutes, with Mo Sangare guilty of a costly mistake for the Lions.

Simon Murray dropped deep to fire a long through ball forward and Sangare missed it completely.

Brophy raced onto it and showed supreme composure in slotting a finish calmly past George for the opener, his first goal since late October.

Just six minutes later, Brophy’s second doubled County’s lead and his own season’s tally to four goals.

Again, it was Murray who showed vision deep in midfield to cut a high ball forward to Brophy to the left side of the box.

The former Kilmarnock, St Mirren and Scotland man this time smashed an unstoppable strike under the bar with George helpless.

Livi’s best attempt saw Tete Yengi strike speculatively from the far left, forcing home keeper George Wickens into action with a diving tip over the bar.

Former Caley Thistle winger Dan MaKay and striker Bruce Anderson were summoned from the half-time warm-up to enter the fray after the break.

Off went Andrew Shinnie and Stephen Kelly.

The County faithful’s only concern must have been that it had all seemed so straightforward.

Just over a minute later, those fears were confirmed with Anderson’s first touch being a finish.

The ex-Aberdeen striker fired hom low from 15 yards after a free-kick delivery broke perfectly for him.

A long VAR check for off-side confirmed it was game on for the visitors.

There was concern for the Highlanders as Murray went down needing treatment and limped to the sidelines but the striker, within minutes, was tearing at the away defence like a man possessed.

Brophy, completely by accident, skewed an attempted cross into the top of the bar in a let-off for Livi.

But the Lions were getting more and more joy in and around the home box and Yengi hammered in an attempt parried by Wickens, with Jason Holt’s hit on the rebound blocked desperately on the line by Efete.

It was all in the balance entering the last 20 minutes and Holt’s strike drew another strong parry from Wickens.

Max Sheaf’s surge on the right and ball flashed across the area caused panic for the visitors, but was pushed to safety by George.

With seven minutes left, substitute Eli King’s attempt was turned for a corner by George, who then fumbled King’s delivery for a second flag kick.

Livi threw on Kurtis Guthrie and went to a five-man attack as tension and desperation heightened.

And it was the West Lothian side who reaped the reward a minute later with Guthrie teeing up Anderson for his second low-swept finish of the day.

There was exhaustion, but opportunity beckoned for both sides with seven minutes stoppage time announced.

County grabbed it with both hands.

Sheaf thundered forward past several challenges and then White teed up substitute Josh Sims for a 12-yard finish that sent the home crowd delirious with joy.

ROSS COUNTY (4-3-3) - Wickens 7; Efete 6, Ayina 7, Leak 6, Reid 7; Sheaf 6, Loturi 8 (Brown 87, 2), Jenks 6 (King 67, 4); Brophy 8 (Sims 76, 4), White 7, Murray 7. Subs not used: Ross, Borthick-Jackson, Harmon, Henderson, Khela.

Booked: Sheaf 75, Murray 90

LIVINGSTON (4-3-3) - George 7; Brandon 6 (Guthrie 83, 3), Nottingham 6, Obileye 7, Sangare 6 (Sean Kelly 59, 6); Shinnie 5 (MacKay 46, 6), Carson 6, Holt 6; Nouble 6, Yengi 7, Stephen Kelly 5 (Anderson 46, 7). Subs: Hamilton, Montano, Devlin.

Booked: Nottingham 90

Referee: David Dickinson 7

Man of the match: Eammon Brophy (Ross County) - Brilliant finishing and clever movement combined to remind everyone of his class in a tremendous first half before Livi came storming back. Could be a crucial player in the final part of the season after months in the shadows.

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