ROSS County’s 2-0 win at basement side Dundee on Friday has shot them into contention for a top six finish in their debut Clydesdale Bank SPL season.
The 2012 Irn Bru Division One champions have now all but banished any fears they could be dragged into a drop zone dog-fight after two late goals at Dens Park moved them just behind sixth-placed Dundee United and Aberdeen and level with Kilmarnock.
The gap between Dundee and County is now a whopping 18 points and the Dark Blues have set their sights on catching 11th placed St Mirren, who hold a 14-point advantage of them.
The Staggies were the better team in the first half and in-form keeper Rab Douglas denied Mihael Kovacevic and Sam Morrow.
At the other end, Gary Harkins, who has returned to the club from Kilmarnock, shot over the crossbar when he should have tested Mark Brown.
On-loan Celt Lewis Toshney put his side in danger with a misjudged back pass which was picked up by Rocco Quinn, but Douglas was quick enough to halt him.
Harkins came close to breaking the deadlock just before the break, but his scooped the ball over the top.
Two early chances in the second half almost put the visitors in front. Firstly, Morrow shot wide of goal before sub Steffen Wohlfarth directed his drive over the crossbar.
Another fine save from Douglas kept out Morrow as County pushed for the opener.
Dundee’s Brian Easton and John Baird had opportunities, but County looked the more likely to find the net and Paul Lawson forced another good stop from Douglas before Iain Vigurs’ shot was blocked on 67 minutes by ex-County defender Gary Irvine.
The opening goal, however, came on 80 minutes, although it was tinged with controversy.
Lawson’s powerful shot crashed downwards off the underside of the bar and referee John McKendrick and his official judged that the ball had crossed the line, despite furious appeal from Douglas and his team-mates.
The gloss was added to the result in injury time when sub Gary Glen got on the end of a long clearance before finishing in style to seal the 2-0 victory.
The Dingwall team can aim to push into the upper half of the table this Saturday when fifth-placed St Johnstone come calling.
Dundee: Douglas, Irvine, Gallagher, Toshney, Easton, Davidson, McBridge (Stewart 78), Harkins, Baird, McAlister, Nish (Riley 57). Subs not used: Baird, Benedictus, Conroy, Morgan, Lockwood.
Ross County: Brown, Munro, Boyd, Okonomou, Kovacevic, Lawson, Brittain, Vigurs (Kettlewell 83), Quinn, Cooper (Wolhfarth 46), Morrow (Glen 68). Subs not used: Fraser, Hainualt, Macphee, Ross.
Referee: John McKendrick.