Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, Ross County 2.
Scottish Premiership: Kilmarnock 0-2 Ross County
A hard-fought victory sent Ross County climbing to fourth place in the Premiership and increased the sense of alarm at Rugby Park.
Alex Schalk's header opened the scoring after eight minutes and Brian Graham's last-minute lob clinched victory.
But Kilmarnock were unable to change their fate in between as they slipped to an eighth home Premiership defeat.
They are eight points clear of Dundee United, who host Aberdeen on Wednesday, but have played two games more.
As soon as the second goal went in, dejected Kilmarnock fans among a paltry 2,633 crowd began to stream out of the ground, as the possibility of a relegation play-off - or worse - looms large.
Neither side was inhibited by their circumstances and the points at stake. The opening minutes saw them create a chance apiece, and that spell shaped the rest of the game.
The home side were first to impose themselves, but Greg Kiltie could not change his body shape quickly enough to properly connect with Josh Magennis's cross and he volleyed over as he rushed into the penalty area.
Kilmarnock would have been heartened by the opportunity, because their home form has been so consistently poor that the general mood at Rugby Park is a deep-seated anxiety. Even so, a familiar feeling of dismay swept round the ground soon after the Kiltie effort.
In County's first meaningful attack, Michael Gardyne delivered a cross into the penalty area from the left and Schalk slipped into space to glance a header into the far corner.
He was unmarked and had the time to compose himself, and that proved a costly aberration for Kilmarnock.
The goal invigorated Schalk. When another cross was sent into the area, he controlled the ball expertly with his back to goal, spun briskly and hit a shot on target that Jamie Macdonald had to move quickly to save.
Later in the half, he was about to strike another effort from inside the area when Kilmarnock centre-back Conrad Balatoni slid in to block.
The home side were initially unsettled by their lack of resolve in defence, but they did not concede their place in the game and kept fighting their cause.
It was typical of their misfortune, though, that Topi Obadeyi had to be substituted in the 30th minute because of injury.
It was Obadeyi who came closest to scoring in the first half, with a tame header wide from Rory McKenzie's cross.
The interval provided Kilmarnock boss Lee Clark with an opportunity to revive his side. There was certainly a greater attacking intent to the home side's play in the second half and McKenzie swept a shot on target early on, only to see the Ross County goalkeeper Gary Woods save.
Kilmarnock saw plenty of possession, while County seemed comfortable defending their lines and striking on the break.
They almost added to their lead when Graham's cross was headed against the outside of he post by Liam Boyce.
In the closing minutes, Kilmarnock's organisation abandoned them, and Graham was able to steer a header over the stranded Macdonald to seal the victory. Booing from the home fans greeted the final whistle.
- 36FaubertSubstituted forO'Haraat 73'minutes
- 7McKenzieSubstituted forCarrickat 70'minutes
- 16ObadeyiSubstituted forHigginbothamat 31'minutes
- 15DaviesBooked at 75mins
- 2FraserBooked at 28mins
- 17FranksSubstituted forDe Vitaat 83'minutes
- 26WoodsBooked at 82mins
- 23SchalkSubstituted forBoyceat 60'minutes
- 25GoodwillieBooked at 58minsSubstituted forGrahamat 72'minutes
- 24De Vita
- Stephen Finnie
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Ross County 2.
Attempt missed. Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is too high following a set piece situation.
Hand ball by Paul Quinn (Ross County).
Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Ross County 2. Brian Graham (Ross County) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Gary Woods.
Attempt saved. Mark O'Hara (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.
Foul by Kallum Higginbotham (Kilmarnock).
Martin Woods (Ross County) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Gary Dicker (Kilmarnock).
Liam Boyce (Ross County) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock).
Andrew Davies (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Ross County. Raffaele De Vita replaces Jonathan Franks.
Martin Woods (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Kevin McHattie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Martin Woods (Ross County).
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Josh Magennis.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Kevin McHattie.
Kevin McHattie (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Andrew Davies (Ross County).
Hand ball by Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock).
Liam Boyce (Ross County) hits the left post with a header from the centre of the box.
Andrew Davies (Ross County) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Mark O'Hara (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Andrew Davies (Ross County).
Foul by Lee Hodson (Kilmarnock).
Jonathan Franks (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Andrew Davies.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Mark O'Hara replaces Julien Faubert.
Substitution, Ross County. Brian Graham replaces David Goodwillie.
Attempt missed. Jackson Irvine (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Substitution, Kilmarnock. Dale Carrick replaces Rory McKenzie.
Attempt saved. Josh Magennis (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Julien Faubert (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Jackson Irvine (Ross County).
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Conrad Balatoni.
Foul by Conrad Balatoni (Kilmarnock).
Paul Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Paul Quinn.
Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.