Ross Stewart’s 80th-minute penalty earned Ross County a 2-2 draw against Kilmarnock.
Ross Draper had put the Staggies in front after 15 minutes, before a much-improved Killie side came out firing at the start of the second half.
Alan Power’s strike on the hour mark was backed up by Chris Burke in the 66th minute, putting Kilmarnock in pole position to claim a first win of the season, but Stewart denied them.
County were the in-form side going into the match, and their confidence on the ball was clear to see from the first whistle.
They could have gone ahead inside a minute, when Michael Gardyne received a short free-kick on the left side of the box and whipped a cross towards Draper, whose poke towards goal was not enough to trouble Danny Rogers.
Kilmarnock did not have the same swagger on the ball as their hosts, and County finally went ahead in the 15th minute through yet another set-piece that Alex Dyer’s side struggled to deal with.
Josh Mullin played it short to Iain Vigurs and quickly received it back, crossing first time where Draper had found enough space to head past Rogers and into the far corner.
Mullin had the chance to get on the scoresheet himself before the break, but his header from Gardyne’s cross fell the wrong side of the post.
The visitors had to come out for the second half improved if they were to stand a chance of taking anything back to Rugby Park, and Burke went close with a free-kick 25 yards from goal.
They were looking much livelier and got their reward on the hour mark when Power received the ball in acres of space before slotting past Ross Laidlaw to level.
Power turned provider six minutes later when he slipped Burke into a dangerous area, and ignoring the defenders’ appeals for offside the winger smashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Staggies forward Stewart, ever a danger, nearly equalised in the 74th minute with a long-range drive that bounced clear off the woodwork. He soon received an even better chance from the penalty spot when Ross Millen was pulled up for handball, and he made no mistake from 12 yards.
Both sides had half chances after that, but nobody could find a breakthrough, so County’s unbeaten start to the season – and Killie’s winless one – continued.
What the managers said…
Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell: “The frustration for me was we conceded two goals in that spell. I thought
we’d maybe weathered a storm.
“It was from us being in possession that we concede so I’ve just said to the players, I take full responsibility for that by asking them to try to pass the ball and try to be creative. These guys can punish you and we know that.”
Chris Burke went down under pressure from Josh Reid in the first half, preceding further appeals when Ross Stewart appeared to handle the ball inside his own area in the second – both were turned down.
Kilmarnock manager Alex Dyer on penalty claims: “The officials have got to call what they see, but from where we
were I thought they were blatant.
“Burke is an experienced player, he got past his man and got pulled down. Even if the referee hasn’t seen it, the linesman is right on that side, he should see it. The penalty that we didn’t get in the second half was definitely a penalty.
“I asked the ref after the game and he told me Stewart’s arms were right beside his body, and when you see it they’re right up in the air.”
Ross County host Dundee United at 3pm on Saturday, while Kilmarnock host St Johnstone at the same time.
Source : Sky Sports