PAUL HARTLEY was an angry man on Saturday night but, underpinning it all, was a distinct sense of disbelief.
The Dundee manager seemed to be striving to rationalise what he had just seen, even as he dissected it.
Twice the Dark Blues led the Dingwall hosts and twice the lead was undone before, in breathtaking fashion, Liam Boyce completed an outstanding hat-trick display to seal the 5-2 victory.
County remained fifth in the table, while the Tayside team let slip the chance to move up into the top six.
“I couldn’t see that coming - not at all,” Hartley said.
“The goals we lost were disgraceful. It was abysmal. We don’t know what we are getting from one week to the next.
“We looked a threat when we went forward, with some good attacking play at times.
“But defensively we looked so vulnerable. It just wasn’t good enough. Going from a clean sheet and being rock solid against Hamilton Accies last week to what we saw here today is just unacceptable.”
Dundee ventured north to dank and freezing Dingwall looking to break a miserable run of 11 matches without victory over the Staggies.
The goals we lost were disgraceful. It was abysmal. We don’t know what we are getting from one week to the nextPaul Hartley
They had broken another unwanted sequence - eight games without a SPFL win - the previous weekend in thumping fashion, but this promising performance was to turn nasty on them.
The Staggies opened brightly, but when County’s central defender Andrew Davies made a surging run forward, halted near the Dundee box, the away team broke at pace.
Greg Stewart fed Kane Hemmings and the striker calmly cut a shot into the left hand corner of the net.
It might have been a whole lot worse for County three minutes later. Dundee countered again, this time from a home corner, and again the Staggies were exposed.
• CLICK HERE for the latest Ross County news from The Scotsman Stewart struck from the edge of the box but home keeper Scott Fox leapt brilliantly to touch the ball over the bar.
The hosts took a firmer grip as the half progressed and Liam Boyce claimed the 29th minute leveller.
Northern Ireland’s France 2016 hopeful was set free by a Davies’ header forward. As Boyce tore on, Bain raced out only to be beaten by a nicked touch past him into the empty net.
County opened the second half positively with Woods swirling a left foot attempt past the right hand post, but again Dundee struck on the break.
Stewart surged forward unhindered through the centre and waited for his moment to dink the ball sideways to where Hemmings was waiting to strike his 11th of the campaign.
This time, though, the away lead lasted just two minutes. A terrific angled ball was collected expertly by Michael Gardyne and, from the toughest of angles, the home attacker thrashed a fine shot in off the crossbar.
County’s joy only heightened on the hour as the newly-introduced Jackson Irvine met Jon Franks’ corner with a low strike past Bain. Nick Ross made a valiant attempt at a block on the line but the assistant’s referee confirmed it had crossed the goal-line.
It was 4-2 to the hosts when Boyce netted with a terrific eight-yard scissor-kick from Richard Foster’s right-side cutback. And the brilliant Boyce clinched his hat-trick close-in as he smashed home again in 85 minutes from Reckord’s excellent cross.
“Liam Boyce’s forte is putting the ball in the back of the net,” Jim McIntyre said. “We’re still working on other aspects of his game such as holding the ball up and releasing it early. But he has a natural ability when it comes to finishing and sharpness in the box.”