Ross County narrowed the gap between them and St Mirren to a single point after a convincing win in Paisley.
Richard Brittain's free-kick strike opened the scoring for County, but Steven Thompson levelled in 50 minutes.
However, two goals from Sam Morrow and a brace from Ivan Sproule on his debut brought victory to the Highland side as the St Mirren defence imploded.
Lewis Guy failed to grab a consolation for the home side when Mark Brown saved his last-minute penalty.
The first Scottish Premier League match after the winter break promised goals as the last time these sides met at St Mirren Park they served up a nine-goal thriller
Both sides knew a win could give them a crucial edge as they looked to climb the table, with St Mirren four points clear of County going into the match - though the visitors have two games in hand.
The game started in an open fashion, Grant Munro and Thompson both passing up early chances at either end of the pitch.
A neat interchange on the edge of the St Mirren box let in Ross County debutant Sproule, who shot at the legs of Craig Samson, with Rocco Quinn in a better position.
A goal seemed inevitable, and it came from the boot of County captain Brittain, who has signed a pre-contract with St Johnstone.
His free-kick from 25 yards flew into the top-right corner of the net, with Samson left stranded - Brittain's sixth goal of the season.
County were dominating possession in midfield, and Brittain played in Sproule in the inside-right channel, and his powerful right-footed shot fizzed just past the post.
St Mirren were struggling to create as the half went on, with Thompson cutting a frustrated figure as a series of offside decisions and a penalty claim went against him.
However, manager Danny Lennon brought on Dougie Imrie for Newton at half-time, and five minutes later the Buddies were level.
David Barron played the ball into the box, where Thompson spun and hammered the ball past Brown from 14 yards.
It was the home side's turn to enjoy a spell of dominance in possession, but they toiled to carve out any clear opportunities.
After the hour mark the game began to stretch after a scrappy phase, and Sproule was unfortunate with a low effort from a tight angle which flashed narrowly wide.
This was a precursor to a torrid 15 minutes where the St Mirren defence collapsed and conceded three goals which killed the match.
But, moments later, a back-header from Barron fell short, allowing substitute Sam Morrow to dart in and slot the ball low past Samson.
St Mirren looked shell-shocked at this and Vigurs nicked the ball off Jon Robertson from a St Mirren throw, and his toe poke fell into the path of Sproule, who rifled the ball home.
Then, Quinn fired in a low effort from the edge of the box, which Samson could only parry into the path of Sproule, six yards out, who knocked the ball into the empty net.
Guy went down in the box at the death, with referee Euan Norris pointing to the spot, but even this consolation was denied them as his low penalty was saved by Brown.
Live text and stats
Saturday, 19 January 2013
Scottish Premier League
10 McGowan (J McGinn 79)
11 Carey yellow card
24 Newton (Imrie 46)
19 Parkin (Guy 53)
02 van Zanten,
29 J McGinn
11 Vigurs yellow card (Cooper 88)
16 Sproule (Ross 80)
20 Glen (Morrow 64)
Ref: NorrisAtt: 3,802
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+2:48 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+2:31 A save by Mark Brown from penalty by Lewis Guy. St Mirren 1-4 Ross County.
90:00+1:43 Grant Munro concedes a Penalty for a foul on Lewis Guy.
87:21 Mark Brown takes the indirect free kick.
87:21 Substitution Alex Cooper joins the action as a substitute, replacing Iain Vigurs.
87:21 Lewis Guy is ruled offside.
83:25 Corner taken by Gary Teale, Marc McAusland has a headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the
83:09 John McGinn takes a shot. Mark Brown makes a save.
81:17 Paul Lawson fouled by John McGinn, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Mark Brown.
79:52 Substitution (Ross County) makes a substitution, with Steven Ross coming on for Ivan Sproule.
78:31 Substitution John McGinn joins the action as a substitute, replacing Paul McGowan.
78:02 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Dougie Imrie, clearance by Rocco Quinn.
77:43 Dougie Imrie decides to take a short corner.
76:06 The assistant referee flags for offside against Sam Morrow. Indirect free kick taken by Craig Samson.
73:54 The assist for the goal came from Rocco Quinn.
73:54 GOAL - Ivan Sproule:St Mirren 1 - 4 Ross County Ivan Sproule finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. St
Mirren 1-4 Ross County.
73:52 Rocco Quinn takes a shot. Save by Craig Samson.
73:25 Corner taken right-footed by Richard Brittain from the left by-line, Marc McAusland makes a clearance.
72:38 Unfair challenge on Ivan Sproule by David Barron results in a free kick. Richard Brittain takes the free kick.
71:21 Shot by Lewis Guy from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
70:16 Iain Vigurs provided the assist for the goal.
70:16 GOAL - Ivan Sproule:St Mirren 1 - 3 Ross County A goal is scored by Ivan Sproule from just outside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. St Mirren 1-3 Ross
66:42 GOAL - Sam Morrow:St Mirren 1 - 2 Ross County Sam Morrow grabs a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. St Mirren 1-2 Ross County.
66:14 Steven Thompson takes a shot. Mark Brown makes a save.
65:15 Ivan Sproule has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.
63:21 David Barron takes the direct free kick.
63:21 Substitution Sam Morrow joins the action as a substitute, replacing Gary Glen.
63:21 Paul Lawson concedes a free kick for a foul on Jon Robertson.
60:32 The official flags Ivan Sproule offside. Indirect free kick taken by Craig Samson.
58:54 The assistant referee flags for offside against Lewis Guy. Mark Brown takes the free kick.
55:56 Free kick taken by Gary Teale.
55:56 Booking Iain Vigurs is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
55:52 Foul by Iain Vigurs on David Barron, free kick awarded.
53:55 Corner taken by Gary Teale from the left by-line, Mihael Kovacevic manages to make a clearance.
53:23 Ivan Sproule takes a shot. Comfortable save by Craig Samson.
52:30 Substitution Sam Parkin goes off and Lewis Guy comes on.
51:58 Rocco Quinn gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul McGowan. Marc McAusland takes the free kick.
51:28 Jim Goodwin fouled by Gary Glen, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Graham Carey.
49:58 The assist for the goal came from David Barron.
49:58 GOAL - Steven Thompson:St Mirren 1 - 1 Ross County Goal scored by Steven Thompson from deep inside the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. St Mirren 1-1 Ross
45:01 The referee gets the second half underway.
45:01 Substitution (St Mirren) makes a substitution, with Dougie Imrie coming on for Conor Newton.
45:00+2:11 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+0:42 Richard Brittain takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post.
44:47 The assistant referee flags for offside against Steven Thompson. Mark Brown takes the indirect free kick.
42:37 Gary Glen takes a shot. Save by Craig Samson.
41:24 The assistant referee signals for offside against Steven Thompson. Free kick taken by Grant Munro.
39:01 Paul Lawson has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.
37:13 Foul by Jim Goodwin on Ivan Sproule, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Scott Boyd.
34:59 Foul by Steven Thompson on Grant Munro, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Mark Brown.
32:50 Ivan Sproule has an effort from just inside the box that misses to the left of the goal.
32:30 Grant Munro gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Thompson. David Barron restarts play with the free kick.
25:53 The assistant referee flags for offside against Gary Glen. Craig Samson takes the free kick.
21:45 GOAL - Richard Brittain:St Mirren 0 - 1 Ross County Richard Brittain hits the back of the net with a goal direct from the free kick from outside the box to the top right corner
of the goal. St Mirren 0-1 Ross County.
21:03 Marc McAusland is penalised for a handball.
19:44 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sam Parkin by Scott Boyd. Direct free kick taken by Jim Goodwin.
17:25 Sam Parkin takes a shot. Save made by Mark Brown.
15:13 David Barron has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
13:52 Strike comes in from Iain Vigurs from the free kick, save by Craig Samson.
13:52 Booking Graham Carey receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
13:36 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ivan Sproule by Graham Carey.
12:24 Steven Thompson is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Mark Brown.
12:04 Foul by Paul Lawson on Jon Robertson, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Graham Carey.
10:49 Effort from outside the penalty box by Rocco Quinn goes wide left of the target.
10:02 Richard Brittain takes a shot. Save made by Craig Samson.
8:12 Evangelos Ikonomou challenges Steven Thompson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by David Barron.
6:51 Richard Brittain takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by Marc McAusland.
6:29 Iain Vigurs takes a shot. Save made by Craig Samson.
5:46 Unfair challenge on Evangelos Ikonomou by Steven Thompson results in a free kick. Grant Munro takes the direct free kick.
3:42 Steven Thompson takes a shot. Save by Mark Brown.
2:56 Foul by Scott Boyd on Sam Parkin, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Conor Newton.
1:02 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Richard Brittain, Grant Munro takes a shot. Save by Craig Samson.
0:00 The game begins.
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