Match ends, Ross County 0, Dundee United 3.
Dundee United secured a priceless three points against Ross County to move to within eight points of second-bottom Kilmarnock in the Premiership with a game in hand.
Captain Paul Paton headed the visitors ahead from an early corner and Billy McKay almost doubled United's lead shortly after half-time.
The striker did secure all three points from Ryan Dow's neat square ball.
Then the latter added a third after County's Paul Quinn hit the bar.
United seemed to start a little more positively and it was Paton who struck his second goal in two games.
A nice move down the left earned a corner which seemed well rehearsed as the midfielder manoeuvred superbly to meet the ball with a firm header.
United seemed to be profiting down the left and Scott Fraser produced a moment of excellence to skip by defenders all the way to the goal-line, only to see his cutback cleared. It was fabulous, incisive play.
County's best chances came from corners but a lack of fluency, with a bumpy pitch perhaps playing a role, was evident.
As half-time approached, the hosts seemed a little more purposeful going forward. Ian McShane delivered a great corner which Andrew Davies headed over. They were beginning to knock on the door, but not hard enough.
United came out for the second period intent on going further ahead and McKay tried an audacious lob right after half-time that had Scott Fox scampering but narrowly missed the target.
Paul Dixon then sent a lovely ball across the six-yard box which Fraser almost buried at the back post before Quinn eventually cleared.
Jim McIntyre introduced strikers Brian Graham and David Goodwillie in the hope of getting back into the match. But it didn't work.
A lovely move released United substitute Dow down the left and, when his ball across wasn't dealt with, McKay slotted in from close range, despite Fox's despairing dive.
Graham perhaps should have buried a close-range effort under pressure and County then were very unfortunate to see a scramble in the box result in the ball bouncing off the bar and away.
United capitalised on that bit of luck to seal the points when Dow showed real determination to nod home after a corner kick caused chaos in the box.
Michael Gardyne hit the inside of a post as even a consolation eluded County.
The Dingwall side have occupied the top six for a long time this season but this was a significant dent in their hopes of staying there.
It was a truly wonderful afternoon for United fans who were delirious and perhaps, for the first time in a long time, believed their side can escape the drop.
- 8McShaneSubstituted forFranksat 45'minutes
- 26WoodsBooked at 61mins
- 10BoyceSubstituted forGrahamat 65'minutes
- 23SchalkBooked at 17minsSubstituted forGoodwillieat 65'minutes
- 28DonaldsonBooked at 30mins
- 19GunningBooked at 17mins
- 20SpittalSubstituted forKnoyleat 82'minutes
- 7MckayBooked at 71minsSubstituted forErskineat 87'minutes
- 9OfereSubstituted forDowat 62'minutesBooked at 76mins
- John Beaton
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Ross County 0, Dundee United 3.
Foul by Martin Woods (Ross County).
Scott Fraser (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Christopher McLaughlin (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Scott Fraser (Dundee United).
Attempt saved. John Rankin (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Paul Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Scott Fraser (Dundee United).
Substitution, Dundee United. Chris Erskine replaces Billy McKay.
Michael Gardyne (Ross County) hits the right post with a left footed shot from the left side of the box.
Jackson Irvine (Ross County) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Kyle Knoyle (Dundee United).
Substitution, Dundee United. Kyle Knoyle replaces Blair Spittal.
Foul by Andrew Davies (Ross County).
Billy McKay (Dundee United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Goal! Ross County 0, Dundee United 3. Ryan Dow (Dundee United) header from very close range to the centre of the goal.
Corner, Dundee United. Conceded by Scott Fox.
Attempt saved. Scott Fraser (Dundee United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Paul Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.