Match ends, Dundee United 1, Ross County 0.
A Billy Mckay penalty nine minutes from time gave Dundee United their first league win since early August and first under new manager Mixu Paatelainen.
Scott Fraser went down just inside the box after a challenge by Martin Woods and the former Inverness striker made no mistake from the spot.
The home side finished with 10 men with Aiden Connolly sent off late on for a challenge on Michael Gardyne.
But they held on to move to within two points of Partick Thistle.
With his team in danger of becoming detached at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership, Paatelainen made three changes to the starting line-up, with Polish goalkeeper Michal Szromnik replacing Luis Zwick between the sticks, Adam Taggart started up front and Blair Spittal was back in midfield after suspension.
County were forced into a late change, with Richard Foster coming in at left-back after Jamie Reckord picked up an injury in the warm-up.
Paatelainen had been extremely critical of his team last weekend after the heavy defeat at Celtic Park, but his troops looked ready for battle early on.
They had claims for a penalty turned down when the ball appeared to strike the arm of Foster, but referee Don Robertson waved play on.
Gary Woods made a magnificent one-handed save when a header from team-mate Foster was destined for the top corner only for the County goalkeeper to somehow claw the ball away.
As half-time approached, it was Szromnik's turn to keep his goal intact.
Tony Dingwall fired in a long-range effort that was moving one way then the other, but the United goalkeeper twisted his body to turn the ball over the crossbar.
It was the home side who continued to push forward after the break.
Fraser fired the ball over when he connected with a deep cross at the back post.
Spittal was next to try his luck with a free-kick that drifted just wide of the right-hand post.
John Rankin fired a drive from 25 yards just wide of County's left-hand upright.
United finally made the breakthrough when Fraser was bundled down just inside the 18-yard box and Mckay sent goalkeeper Woods the wrong way.
The goal sprung County into action and Martin Woods came within inches of an equaliser with a long-range effort.
Then Liam Boyce forced Szromnik into a save with a header from close range.
In the final minute of six added on, United substitute Connolly was sent off after pulling down Gardyne as the forward drove towards goal.
From the resultant free-kick, Szromnik pulled off another save - this time from Alex Schalk - to prevent an equaliser.
- 12McGowanBooked at 65mins
- 2DillonBooked at 84mins
- 20SpittalSubstituted forConnollyat 60'minutesBooked at 90mins
- 15DaviesSubstituted forBoydat 54'minutes
- 19DingwallSubstituted forMurdochat 60'minutes
- 11CurranSubstituted forSchalkat 63'minutes
- Don Robertson
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Dundee United 1, Ross County 0.
Second yellow card to Aidan Connolly (Dundee United) for a bad foul.
Foul by Aidan Connolly (Dundee United).
Michael Gardyne (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Billy McKay (Dundee United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Scott Fraser (Dundee United).
Richard Foster (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
(Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Scott Boyd (Ross County).
Aidan Connolly (Dundee United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Aidan Connolly (Dundee United).
Stewart Murdoch (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Liam Boyce (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
John Rankin (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Alex Schalk (Ross County).
Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Scott Boyd.
Attempt saved. Stewart Murdoch (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Mark Durnan (Dundee United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Liam Boyce (Ross County).