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Ross County 0 Hibernian 2: Visitors honour fallen team-mate with Highland victory

TERRY BUTCHER may have said his fond farewells to Inverness but his love affair with the Highlands just grows and grows.

Jordan Forster heads Hibernian into a two-goal lead. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
Jordan Forster heads Hibernian into a two-goal lead. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

Hibernian's manager savoured a second successive victory with his new club at the Global Energy Stadium, something he never achieved with Caledonian Thistle.

His team have now won twice in the last 11 games, with both triumphs coming in Dingwall.

Two headers, by defenders Jordon Forster and Michael Nelson, from corners consigned County to a ninth game without victory, and Butcher later said that a team bus breakdown on the way north had helped refocus the players after the weekend death of 18-year-old team-mate David Paul, for whom there was a minute's silence before kick-off.

"The coach broke down at Broxden services, so we had to wait for an hour and 20 minutes for a replacement," Butcher said. "There was a wee obstacle today in football terms for us and for our routine. But we have had a major obstacle with the death of young David Paul. We wanted to win for David and his family, that was the big thing."

In a game far more entertaining than their Scottish Cup tie in late November, Hibs scored more than once for the first time in 13 matches since late September against Stranraer, with Butcher having exhorted his players to channel the mood and play as if it was their last game.

However, it was the home side who threatened first. Graham Carey's cross from the left was not cleared properly and team-mate Melvin de Leeuw was in like a flash but struck wide of the left-hand post after five minutes' play.

Hibs reacted with a concerted spell of pressure, the breakthrough arriving from the first corner at County's Jail End on 18 minutes.

Paul Cairney's delivery was met at the near post by Hibs' centre-half Nelson to head past goalkeeper Michael Fraser.

County responded, with Carey rippling the side-netting with a free-kick from 25 yards, while Kevin Luckassen's touch deserted him as he tried to collect a clever De Leeuw ball into the box, and at half-time the striker was replaced by Gary Glen.

The home side took the game to Hibs after the restart, with Carey hitting a post with a right-foot shot, but on 55 minutes the visitors again found the net from a Cairney corner after some questionable marking - Forster's diving header proving to be the last score of the game.

County fought on, with Carey's dipping 25-yard free-kick cracking off the top of the bar after 73 minutes, only for Hibs to stand strong.

For home manager Derek Adams it was again difficult to stomach. "Two goals were lost from corner kicks. We've lost our men and they've been able to score," he said. "Other than that, there wasn't much in the game. There will be significant change in the transfer window but the players today, second half, gave a lot of effort and commitment."

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