JACK ROSS, the Hibernian manager, is warning his new squad they must quickly break the habit of throwing away winning positions to

re-­establish themselves as a Premiership force.

The new Easter Road ­manager was dismayed to see his team repeat the weekend’s collapse against Kilmarnock in Dingwall last night from a dominant first half.

In seven of their last 11 league games, the Hibees have lost leads and last night Christian Doidge’s dominant first half was wiped out by a Ross Stewart double for resurgent County.

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While Hibs lost a nine-game run without defeat, County ended a nine-game search for a victory. Ross, the former Sunderland and St Mirren manager, said: “We put ourselves in a good position and were comfortable in the game. To not win the game or take anything from it is hugely frustrating.

“In the last two games we have taken one point from six where we could have a good case for saying it should be six from six. It’s something we can’t ignore and have to rectify.”

Stewart’s double underlined why one of the morning’s papers had linked him with Blackburn Rovers and Stoke City interest after the 23-year-old netted his 10th and 11th goals of the season.

County were a different ­animal after the break as they meted out the new Hibs manager’s first defeat at the club.

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

With rain swirling around the stadium, some desperate defending ensued for the hosts, with the biggest scare seeing ex-County full-back Jason Naismith cracking a shot off the top of the bar. County cracked in disastrous fashion 10 minutes before the break. Sean Kelly was booked for a foul on Florian Kamberi. Scott Allan’s curling free-kick from deep right then picked out Doidge rising to head towards the left hand corner of the net.

On loan Chelsea keeper Nathan Baxter seemed to have got to it, but it somehow squirmed through his grasp and in for Doidge’s ninth goal of the season. There was immediately better from County early in the second half, more energy and more intent, with the flow of play reversed into Hibs’ faces.

The reward for the home team came bang on 65 minutes.


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Josh Mullin launched a long, high diagonal from deep right and keeper Chris Maxwell, stretching to meet it, seemed to misjudge the flight as it brushed the top of his fingertips. In strode Ross Stewart, linked yesterday with interest from 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 but nowhere safe by Paul Hanlon. Stewart planted a header into the corner of the net.

Steven Ferguson, the County co-manager, refused to get carried away after breaking the poor run, but stressed: “We are delighted because people were questioning us, doubting whether we could compete at this level. But we got back to doing the things we are good at, we defended better and gave ourselves a platform to win the game. We have been criticised for our defending of late and we could have defended the goal we did concede better, but I felt overall we defended well.”