Ross County boss Malky Mackay praised the “character and spirit” of his players after they overcame Aberdeen to seal a place in the cinch Premiership top six – and chairman Roy MacGregor joined in with the post-match celebrations.
Both sides went into the match with the opportunity to earn their place in the top half of the table before the league splits, but Joseph Hungbo’s late penalty – after a Jonny Hayes handball – proved the difference.
Mackay said: “We had three points after 10 games so we didn’t think we’d be top half after the split.
“At that point we were everyone’s tip for relegation. From then we’ve been consistent and gradually climbed up the table.
“It shows great character and spirit from our players, but I’m really delighted for our chairman, Roy MacGregor.
“He showed a little bit of emotion with the players there, which is something he doesn’t do and I’ve never seen from him before.
“When a playing staff, football staff, commercial staff and the fans all pull together, good things can happen. It has today.”
While Mackay was in understandably high spirits, Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin cut a more sombre figure and accepted his share of the blame for his side’s first bottom-six finish in nine years.
The Irishman commented: “We’re all gutted as you would imagine. The dressing room is very flat and the players are hurting.
“It’s a hugely-disappointing end to this part of the campaign. The season isn’t over – we’ve still five games to go. We’ve got to try to restore some pride.
“For a club of this size to miss out on the top six with that squad of players is very regrettable.
“We’re not going to shy away from what’s happening here and I’m going to take my share of the responsibility for what’s happened.
“I’ve had enough time to turn it around and get the points needed to get to the top six.
“We can’t fault the players for their commitment or effort – we just weren’t good enough at key moments and it’s cost us dearly.”