ROSS County saw a 1-0 lead turn into a 2-1 defeat away to Partick Thistle today (Saturday) in what could be a damaging Ladbrokes Premiership result for the Dingwall men.
It was a disappointing game in terms of quality as Craig Curran's second half opener was swiftly cancelled out by Kris Doolan's 100th goal for the Jags.
And Doolan was at the double with the winner with 10 minutes remaining to leave County with more to fear from the teams below them than above.
The sides went into this one in contrasting form, with Thistle unbeaten in their last six league fixtures and pole position for grabbing that coveted sixth spot.
Conceding two late equalisers recently against Caley Thistle and Kilmarnock hurt Partick, but they were seeking to return to winning ways.
The Jags, with the fourth best defensive card in the division, had taken four points off County in the two games between them so far
County, though still with one eye on making a late surge into the top half, were well aware that they began the day just four points off bottom spot.
The Staggies had won just once in the Premiership since beating Caley Thistle in Hogmanay and boss Jim McIntyre knows they need wins.
The hosts were unchanged from the starting 11 which drew with Killie, while County made three changes from the team which drew 1-1 with Inverness CT a fortnight ago.
Goalkeeper Scott Fox was fit again, so replaced Aaron McCarey, while Martin Woods and Jay McEveley came in for Tim Chow and Michael Gardyne, the latter of whom began the day on the bench.
County were on the counter attack in under a minute as Liam Boyce linked with Martin Woods, who played it wide to full-back Jason Naismith, but his delivery was a poor one.
Thistle soon found their feet and only a few slack passes prevented them really getting through to an area close enough to test ex-Jags keeper Fox.
That changed though on 15 minutes when Ryan Edwards found space near the right corner flag to send in a cross and Steven Lawless saw his header held by Fox.
Moments later, Woods drew a save from home keeper Tomas Cerny after he was picked out by Boyce.
Jags captain Abdul Osman needed treatment on 16 minutes after colliding with Curran in a challenge, but thankfully for him was okay to continue after a short departure from the pitch.
It was still a scrappy encounter, with the ball too often in the air of failing to find its intented player for either team.
Lawless was given the next chance of note on 26 minutes when Chris Erskine played him in but the shot had to sting or direction to beat Fox.
There were appeals for a County spot-kick on 35 minutes when Curran took a tumble in the box when challenged by Edwards, but referee Willie Collum was having none of it. Nor were the home fans who chanted “cheat” at the County forward.
Four minutes before the break, Niall Keown got on the end of a free-kick for Thistle, but Fox clutched without worry.
In first half stoppage time, Osman did have to go after he hurt his shoulder when attacking the ball. He was replaced by former Caley Jags defender Danny Devine.
There was still time for one last chance before the interval and it fell to County as Marcus Fraser headed an effort off the bar as he met a cross from Boyce.
After mopping up an early Staggies corner, Thistle could have taken the lead early in the second half, but Fox pawed away a fine Chris Erskine shot to keep it scoreless.
Like a bolt from the blue, the game turned on its head with a goal from County on 58 minutes.
A swift move across the face of the Partick box led to Curran cutting inside after Boyce lined him up and he swerved the ball past Cerny into the net.
Thistle were back on level terms, however, seven minutes later when Kris Doolan supplied a cool finish with a right-foot shot past Fox.
That landmark goal for the Jags striker was followed by a yellow card from Collum as he lifted his shirt over his head in celebration. His t-shirt read "100 and counting".
With 10 minutes left, Thistle sealed the win as a slick attack through the middle of the park saw Adam Barton play in Doolan and he slammed his shot past Fox low into the net for a big win for the Glasgow side.
The Saturday games ended in 1-1 draws between Inverness CT and Kilmarnock and Rangers and Motherwell while Hamilton edged out nine-man St Johnstone 1-0.
So, with just three games left before the split, County are just three points ahead of basement side Inverness CT and nine behind sixth-placed Thistle.
County return to action on Tuesday night when they host a Dundee six which was blasted 7-0 by Aberdeen on Friday.
Partick Thistle: Cerny, Dumbuya, Lindsay, Osman (Devine 45), Doolan, Erskine (Azeez 64), Lawless, Barton, Elliot, Keown, Edwards. Subs not used: Ridgers (GK), Booth, Amoo, Nisbet, McCarthy.
Ross County: Fox, Routis (O'Brien 80), Naismith, Boyce, Davies, Woods, Fraser, van der Weg, Curran (Dow 83), McEveley (Gardyne 77), Schalk. Subs not used: McCarey (GK), Tumility, Dykes, Lakovic.
Referee: Willie Collum.