Ross County 2-1 Hibs: Ross Stewart hands Jack Ross his first defeat as Easter Road boss

Ross Stewart rises highest to put Ross County ahead against Hibernian with his second goal of the game. Picture: Bruce White / SNS
Ross Stewart rises highest to put Ross County ahead against Hibernian with his second goal of the game. Picture: Bruce White / SNS
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Wanted man Ross Stewart emphasised just how much Ross County will want to keep him in January with a brilliant second-half double to stun Hibs.

The 23-year-old netted his tenth and 11th goals of the campaign to turn the match on its head after Christian Doidge opened the scoring in a Hibs-dominated first half.

County were a different animal after the break and ended a run of nine games without a win to move six points off bottom place and hand new Hibs manager Jack Ross his first defeat.

The contrast in recent results between the sides could hardly have been starker going into this game. Hibs were nine games without defeat in league action, County nine without a win.

An abundance of draws for both sides blurred the picture, but the need for a win was keen in both camps.

The Edinburgh visitors brought back Martin Boyle for only his second Premiership start of the season after recovery from a long-term knee problem.

County, beaten 4-1 at home to Celtic four days earlier, made two changes with Lee Erwin and Keith Watson dropping out and Brian Graham and Michael Gardyne returning.

Neither team looked willing to hold back as play opened in lively fashion. Before too long, though, it was Hibs making the running.

With rain swirling around the stadium, some desperate defending ensued for the hosts whose biggest scare came when former County full-back Jason Naismith cracked a shot off the top of the bar.

Soon after, Doidge found space from Scott Allan’s corner to hammer a header down into the turf, but over.

In a rare bit of respite, a clumsy Ryan Porteous touch sent Brian Graham in on the away keeper but Chris Maxwell was sharp in leaping to push the ball away.

County cracked in disastrous fashion ten minutes before the break. Sean Kelly was booked for a foul on Flo Kamberi. Scott Allan’s curling free-kick from deep on the right picked out Doidge who rose to head towards the left hand corner of the net. On loan Chelsea keeper Nathan Baxter seemed to have it, but the ball squirmed from his grasp and in for Doidge’s ninth goal of the season.

There was better from County early in the second half, more energy and more intent, with the flow of play reversed. Hibs remained a threat on the break, but there seemed to be growing belief in the Highland side’s ranks that they could hit back.

The reward for the home team came after 65 minutes. Josh Mullin launched a long, high diagonal from the right and keeper Maxwell, stretching to meet it, seemed to misjudge the flight as it brushed the top of his fingertips. In strode Stewart, linked yesterday with Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City, to find the empty net.

Remarkably, with 75 minutes gone, Stewart did it again. Gardyne’s cross in from the left was headed high in the air by Paul Hanlon but nowhere safe and Stewart strode in to plant a header into the corner of the net.

A chance to equalise went a-begging for Hibs with ten minutes left as Boyle knocked a high ball down for the arriving Doidge who could only stab wide.