Dundee United secured an invaluable three points with this narrow but deserved victory over Ross County at Tannadice.
It was the first win for new Tangerines manager Mixu Paatelainen and narrowed the gap on second bottom Partick Thistle to just two points.
United made a bright start, playing with a high tempo and a lot of energy but without creating clear-cut chances.
That finally changed in the 36th minute when Adam Taggart’s angled drive was saved by County keeper Gary Woods.
The goalie made an even better save shortly after when he tipped over a Scott Fraser free-kick that had been deflected towards the goal by a Staggies defender.
Then just before half-time, it was United stopper Michal Szromnik who had to look lively to save a Tony Dingwall long-range piledriver.
Staggies skipper Andrew Davies had to be stretchered off in the 54th minute after a lengthy stoppage following a clash of heads, to be replaced by Scott Boyd.
Shortly after, John Souttar had a great chance when he ghosted in at the County back post but his volleyed effort flew over.
Blair Spittal then hit a 22-yard free-kick with Woods relieved to see it fly past his left-hand post then John Rankin went even closer with a drive from the edge of the Staggies box.
County had a gilt-edged opportunity with Boyd having a free header from a Martin Woods’ corner but his effort sailed just over Szromnik’s bar.
After that flurry of chances, there was a period of stalemate and as the clock ticked down, it seemed the game would end goal-less.
However, United were handed a lifeline in the 81st minute when Martin Woods upended Fraser as he burst into the Staggies box with referee Don Robertson pointing to the spot.
Billy Mckay stepped up and made no mistake, calmly sending Gary Woods the wrong way to seal all three points for the Tangerines.
However, in the sixth minute of stoppage time, United sub Aidan Connolly was sent off after picking up a second yellow card.
For full report, reaction and analysis, see Monday’s Courier.