Ross County 3-2 Rangers: Hosts’ first win over Rangers delivers Scottish Premiership title blow

Ross County's Josh Sims (left) and Simon Murray celebrate
Josh Sims and Simon Murray both scored in a historic victory

Ross County came from behind to secure a historic first victory over Rangers and deliver a damaging blow to the visitors’ Scottish Premiership title hopes.

Rangers’ first away defeat in eight games since losing at Celtic Park in December leaves Philippe Clement’s side four adrift at the top as the race for silverware shifts significantly the way of the reigning champions.

There were signs that County sensed history could be made despite Rangers emerging from a nervy first half ahead thanks to Jack Baldwin’s own goal.

Strikes on the rebound from Simon Murray and George Harmon turned the game on its head before Josh Sims’ close-range finish left the visitors looking lost for ideas, despite James Tavernier’s late penalty reply.

Second-bottom County held on for one of their most famous victories to narrow the gap with St Johnstone to one point in a major fillip to their hopes of avoiding a relegation play-off.

Both sides had made a host of changes, County looking to recover from two away defeats and Rangers desperate to get back to winning ways after their Old Firm derby draw.

The latter, combined with Celtic’s Saturday win over St Mirren, meant there was no room for slip-ups in the title run for Clement’s side and it looked like the pressure was beginning to weigh heavily.

Within seconds of kick-off, Michee Efete’s cross to the back post found fellow wing-back Harmon racing into the six-yard box at the back post, but the Englishman could not find the net under pressure from Abdallah Sima.

With Rangers’ defence exchanging worried glances, the visitors edged ahead out of the blue when Baldwin’s attempt to clear a corner evaded goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw at his far post.

Saves from Jack Butland and Laidlaw, plus wild finishes from Harmon and Rangers striker Cyriel Dessers, kept the scores level as the action raced from end to end before half-time.

The chances continued to flow after the break and, when Murray’s first effort was blocked by the foot of Butland, the striker found the far corner with his second attempt.

Murray then turned provider as Butland could only parry his curling drive into the path of Harmon to put the hosts ahead.

The Light Blues were left exposed as they pressed desperately for an equaliser and, on the break, Eli King found Sims to fire home.

Rangers were handed a lifeline in the last minute when the ball struck Brandon Khela’s hand. Despite Tavernier’s 50th successful Premiership penalty, the Glasgow side could not make the most of eight minutes of stoppage time to deny County a first win in 25 meetings between the sides.

Player of the match – Simon Murray (Ross County)

Ross County's Simon Murray scores
There were plenty of candidates in the Ross County side, but livewire striker Simon Murray edged it thanks to a goal and assist as well as great work rate

County make Rangers look short of title quality – analysis

County went into the game having only won once in six outings, but they remain unbeaten in their latest five home games and you could see why.

They were not daunted by the stature of the visitors and their record against them, taking the game to a side displaying a frailty that belied their status as title contenders.

Cowie’s changes to his starting line-up worked to perfection, with Harmon, Sims and Yan Dhanda, in particular, injecting a pace and sharpness that had the visiting defence looking well off the pace and goalkeeper Laidlaw inspired.

More displays like this and County are certainly capable of avoiding a relegation play-off.

More performances like this, having squandered the first of two games in hand, and Rangers’ hopes of catching a Celtic side, who manager Brendan Rodgers says come alive in the title run-in, will quickly disappear.

They looked disjointed, error strewn, all too easily penetrated at the back and lacking a killer touch up front – hardly the characteristics of a championship-winning team.

Meanwhile, Clement may now regret his decision to rotate his squad to give game time to some players who failed to live up to the big occasion and they will now likely have to win at Celtic Park in the final derby of the season if they are to keep their dream of finishing top alive.

What they said

Ross County interim manager Don Cowie: “I’m delighted for the whole football club. It was built upon a very good team performance.

“In the first half, I thought we deserved a bit more in terms of what we put in. The message at half time was to keep that going, build on it and be positive. t’s a big three points for us.”

Rangers manager Philippe Clement: “I’m very disappointed because we didn’t play a good game. We gave away easy goals, leading 0-1, not a good first half, not enough quality on the ball then you need to chase the game suddenly. Then we were much better.

“We scored a goal, got more chances, but then you give hope to the opponent because they are leading and they throw themselves in front of the ball, then it’s more difficult. With or without the ball, it was not good enough today, so I’m very disappointed.”

What’s next?

Rangers visit Dundee on Wednesday (20:00 BST) before facing Heart of Midlothian in Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden Park, while both they and County await the first league fixtures after the Premiership splits into two for the last five games.

Player of the match

MurraySimon Murray

Ross County

  1. Squad number15Player nameMurray

  2. Squad number18Player nameKing

  3. Squad number11Player nameSims

  4. Squad number10Player nameDhanda

  5. Squad number14Player nameLoturi

  6. Squad number42Player nameLeak

  7. Squad number16Player nameHarmon

  8. Squad number12Player nameSheaf

  9. Squad number19Player nameKhela

  10. Squad number26Player nameWhite

  11. Squad number4Player nameBrown

  12. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin

  13. Squad number24Player nameEfete

  14. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw

  15. Squad number2Player nameRandall


  1. Squad number1Player nameButland

  2. Squad number13Player nameCantwell

  3. Squad number19Player nameSima

  4. Squad number2Player nameTavernier

  5. Squad number5Player nameSouttar

  6. Squad number4Player nameLundstram

  7. Squad number20Player nameDowell

  8. Squad number9Player nameDessers

  9. Squad number7Player nameFábio Silva

  10. Squad number31Player nameBarisic

  11. Squad number6Player nameGoldson

  12. Squad number21Player nameSterling

  13. Squad number25Player nameRoofe

  14. Squad number17Player nameMatondo

  15. Squad number11Player nameLawrence


Ross County

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 2Randall
  • 5BaldwinBooked at 40mins
  • 42Leak
  • 16Harmon
  • 24EfeteBooked at 54minsSubstituted forBrownat 79′minutes
  • 10DhandaSubstituted forKhelaat 84′minutes
  • 18King
  • 14LoturiBooked at 82mins
  • 11SimsSubstituted forWhiteat 84′minutes
  • 15MurraySubstituted forSheafat 90+1′minutes


  • 3Borthwick-Jackson
  • 4Brown
  • 12Sheaf
  • 17Henderson
  • 19Khela
  • 26White
  • 27Brophy
  • 28Ayina
  • 40Wickens


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Butland
  • 2Tavernier
  • 6Goldson
  • 5Souttar
  • 31BarisicSubstituted forSterlingat 54′minutes
  • 20DowellSubstituted forLawrenceat 63′minutes
  • 4Lundstram
  • 19SimaBooked at 68mins
  • 13Cantwell
  • 7Fábio SilvaSubstituted forMatondoat 54′minutes
  • 9DessersSubstituted forRoofeat 73′minutes


  • 11Lawrence
  • 17Matondo
  • 21Sterling
  • 25Roofe
  • 27Balogun
  • 28McCrorie
  • 38King
  • 43Raskin
  • 45McCausland

Matthew MacDermid


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