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John Hughes felt "football gods" were smiling on Ross County

John Hughes felt
© Reuters
Record goalscorer and appearance-holder Gardyne slotted home the winner in the 66th minute.

John Hughes felt the "football gods" were smiling on Ross County as goals from veteran midfielders Iain Vigurs and Michael Gardyne sealed his side's Scottish Premiership status in a 2-1 win at Motherwell.

County were heading for the play-offs at the halfway stage of Sunday's final matches, with Sam Foley's early goal giving Motherwell a 1-0 lead over County and Kilmarnock 2-0 up at Hamilton.

But Vigurs, who has played close to 250 times for the club over two spells, equalised with a brilliant curling finish to put Killie back into 11th early in the second half.

And record goalscorer and appearance-holder Gardyne slotted home in the 66th minute.

Hughes took over the helm four days before Christmas with the Staggies rock bottom.

But big wins over the likes of Celtic, Aberdeen and Hibernian kept them in with a chance and they won their last three games to consign Killie to a two-legged clash with Dundee.

Hughes said: "Since I came in, we've had a fantastic response. Not every week, which has been my frustration.

"There have been highs and lows, but I have always said that you are beating Celtic and Aberdeen and doing it for a reason, to keep us in the Premiership.

"In the last three games, to do what we did, especially today, with so much at stake, was a big test of character. Especially after going a goal down. We stood up to it and it was two wonderful goals.

"It just shows you how the football gods play it out. You are talking about two guys, two stalwarts of the club in Vigurs and Gardyne.

"The football gods must have been looking down on us and I am grateful.

"But, once again, it was the performance. I knew if the performance was good we had a right good chance."

The former Inverness manager's contract expires at the end of the season but he was talking like he will still be at the club next term ahead of discussions with chairman Roy MacGregor.

"I have to speak to the chairman and that means all the players will be away," he said.

"But it's not all my decision, we have to sit down and have a real talk about where we want to go and how we want to do it. It has to be planned strategically for the best of Ross County.

"I will be sitting down with the chairman and I will be up there for a couple of weeks. It's important I do that. I have not been home since I took the job, with the Covid. That's what you have to do, you have to commit."

The defeat proved costly for Motherwell, who dropped below St Mirren into eighth place.

Graham Alexander took charge two weeks after Hughes, with their clubs level on points at the foot of the table, but the Motherwell manager was disappointed that his side's mentality had wavered during the final game.

"We took our foot off the pedal and we're not good enough to do that," he said.

"We've done the job we wanted to do when we came in by staying up but there's a bad taste in my mouth after today.

"But that might be good for me going forward in terms of helping me clarify a few things in my mind."

Alexander will now take some time to decide on the future of several players.

"I don't think you make good decisions in anger so I won't be doing that," he said. "I already have quite clear ideas about what to do but there were a couple of players who were on the fence and I'll just have to see (on Monday) where we go with that."

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A general shot of the Global Energy Stadium, the home of Ross County
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina22131247
United StatesUnited States19201352
JapanJapan175830
AustraliaAustralia1331430
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151238
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
EFL Cup
Scottish Premiership
Taca da Liga
Pre-Season Friendlies
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
2.Bundesliga
Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1RangersRangers11003033
2Hearts11002113
3Dundee10102201
4St Mirren10102201
5Ross County10100001
6St Johnstone10100001
7Aberdeen00000000
8Dundee UnitedDundee Utd00000000
9Hibernian00000000
10Motherwell00000000
11Celtic100112-10
12Livingston100103-30

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