ROSS County recorded a historic victory over Rangers at the Global Energy Stadium this afternoon to give their chances of cinch Premiership survival a huge boost and hand the advantage in the Scottish title race to Celtic.

Philippe Clement’s team took the lead in the 15th minute when Don Cowie’s captain Jack Baldwin turned the ball into his own net at a James Tavernier corner.

But County did not allow their heads to go down. They were arguably the better side in the first-half and levelled early in the second when Simon Murray beat Jack Butland.

They piled on the misery for their treble-chasing rivals after that. George Harmon gave them they lead just three minutes after the equaliser and Josh Sims then sewed up the three points.

Tavernier pulled one back in the 89th minute when a VAR check showed that Brandon Khela had handled inside his own area. It proved, though, to be too little too late for the visitors. They were booed and jeered off the park afterwards.    

It was the first time in their 95 year existence that the Highland club had beaten their Glasgow opponents. They final got the better of their adversaries at the 25th time of asking.

The shock defeat means that Rangers are now four points behind Celtic, who they still have to face at Parkhead, in the Premiership table with a game in hand still to play against Dundee at Dens Park on Wednesday night.

Here are five talking points from a remarkable afternoon.   

Title turning point?

This was not the first game that Clement would have chosen to play after the frustrating midweek call-off.

County might never have beaten Rangers in 24 previous attempts and might be in second bottom spot in the top flight table fighting for their survival. Still, it was a long journey to make so soon after events on Tayside.

They gave the traveling fans in the Academy End a goal to cheer in the first half when they netted at a Tavernier corner. Fabio Silva nodded on and Baldwin turned into his own net under pressure from John Souttar.

But thereafter they were founding wanting in every department – not least defensively. The ease with which Murray, Harmon and Sims were allowed to score angered Clement on the touchline and he made no fewer than four changes.

Borna Barisic, Fabio Silva, Kieran Dowell and Cyriel Dessers all came off and were replaced by Dujon Sterling, Rabbi Matondo, Tom Lawrence and Kemar Roofe respectively.

But the replacements made no difference to proceedings. Todd Cantwell struck the crossbar from distance. But at no stage did they look capable of taking a point never mind three. They got a lucky break with the spot kick.

Their destiny is still very much in their own hands. If they win all of their remaining matches they will be crowned champions come May. However, there can be no repeat of this abject showing if they are to achieve their objective.  

Sima start

Abdallah Sima took his tally for the 2023/24 campaign to 16 seven days ago when he lashed a deflected shot beyond Joe Hart after replacing the ineffectual Scott Wright at half-time.

Hopes are high among the Rangers support that the Brighton loanee, who underwent surgery on a calf injury he picked up when he was at the African Cup of Nations with Senegal in January, can give his side more of a cutting edge in attack in the remaining weeks of the season.

It was the first start that the 22-year-old had made since the 3-1 win over Kilmarnock at Ibrox way back on January 2. He needs competitive minutes to get his fitness and sharpness up to the level it was at before his spell on the sidelines. Still, he provided far more of presence and threat on the right flank than Wright had seven days earlier.

He went close to doubling the Ibrox club’s lead on a couple of occasions in the opening 45 minutes. Ross Laidlaw tipped his header wide after he had got on the end of a James Tavernier delivery and he also saw an effort deflected past the post.

He had the ball in the net in the second-half but referee Matthew MacDermid correctly disallowed it for a hand ball. The forward will benefit from the run-out. But Rangers need every player to be right on top of their games at the moment and that is clearly not the case.

Toothless Rangers

The thumb injury which Mohamed Diomande suffered against Celtic saw Dowell, who had made his return from a three month injury lay-off in that game when he came off the bench in the second-half, slot in to midfield alongside John Lundstram.

The former Nottingham Forest, Shefield United, Derby County, Wigan Athletic and Norwich City man has not had his troubles to seek since moving to Rangers on a free transfer last summer.

When he has featured, though, he has show glimpses of why previous manager Michael Beale was so eager to bring him in. He was fine this afternoon and only made way for Lawrence in the second-half because Clement went on the offensive.

But the visitors were poor up front as well as at the back this afternoon. Dessers in particular had an off day.

County class

Interim County manager Cowie clearly thought that desperate times require desperate measures – he made no fewer than five changes to the team which lost 1-0 to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last weekend and goalkeeper was one of them.

Fulham loanee George Wickens made way for Laidlaw and Harmon, Victor Loturi, Sims and  Yan Dhanda also came in as Loick Ayina, Eamonn Brophy, Jordan White and Josh Reid all dropped out.

The changes had the desired impact. His charges created more scoring chances than their rivals in the opening exchanges. Harmon, Murray, Dhanda and Sims, though, all failed to capitalise on them. Jack Butland produced a fine save from a shot by the latter. When Harmon ballooned an attempt high over the crossbar after being teed up by Ekli King nine minutes before half-time it kind of summed up their afternoon up until that point.

They persevered, though, and got their rewards in the second minute of the second-half. Butland denied Murray with his outstretched leg. But the ginger-haired striker kept his composure and found the target at the second time of asking. Scorer turned provider a few minutes later.

He tested Butland from a tight angle. The England hopeful kept his shot out, but he parried to the feet of Harmon who kept his composure to put his side ahead and send the home supporters in the 6,382-strong crowd wild. More celebrations followed when Sims ghosted in and got in on the act.

They are now just a point behind St Johnstone in the league. If they can continue to perform like this in the weeks ahead they will escape the drop for the second time in as many seasons. They have, though, set a very high bar.

Keeper heroics

Laidlaw more than justified his inclusion. He denied Todd Cantwell, Sima and Dessers with excellent blocks to keep County in the game. Salvaging a result never mind triumphing would have been beyond them had it not been for their returning vice-captain.