THEY are emerging from a long winter of discontent in Dingwall, with spring not so much in the air as evident in the step of a rejuvenated group of footballers.
Scorer: Ross County - Reckord 66
In a ferociously-contested match, the hosts always held the upper hand, passing up at least three good chances before Jamie Reckord, the former Wolves defender, claimed the winner and his first goal for the club.
In the process, Reckord, pictured right, sealed County’s first consecutive hat-trick of wins since their debut top-flight season.
For manager Jim McIntyre, consistent in his belief in the players through a 12-game run without victory, it must be a sweet feeling, but the County manager was restrained in his assessment.
“Yes, there is good confidence right through the team now and, obviously, winning games has a lot to do with that. There was a wee spring in the step there,” McIntyre said.
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“All in all, it was really pleasing if not the prettiest of games.”
It was certainly thoroughly deserved for the Staggies, but still a game which kept the home crowd on the edge of their seats to the end after three big chances were missed by Michael Gardyne, Scott Boyd and Jackson Irvine.
In contrast, Paul Hartley’s injury- depleted side – without such notables as Paul McGowan and David Clarkson – failed to test home goalkeeper Mark Brown.
The Dens men came into the game on the back of an eight-match unbeaten run, but were quickly on the back foot.
The chance of the first half fell to County five minutes before the break, with Liam Boyce winning the ball from Thomas Konrad, feeding Michael Gardyne, who smashed a 14-yard shot a foot over the centre of the bar.
County pressure was building in the second half and, four minutes after the restart, Raffaele De Vita’s ball in from the right found Scott Boyd free at the back post. The big defender controlled, but his close-range shot struck off goalkeeper Scott Bain’s legs for a corner.
County went even closer after 55 minutes with a bobbling Jackson Irvine snap-shot from the edge of the area superbly touched onto the post and behind by the diving Bain.
But the Staggies’ moment came in the 66th minute from an inspired move. Boyce took possession and fed Gardyne on the right and the County attacker proved too slippery for his marker as he wound his way forwards.
He then found Reckord, unmarked at the far post, striding in for his first County goal with the easiest of finishes close-in.
It should have been two with 13 minutes remaining, but substitute Jake Jervis saw his header hit the crossbar after a great leap to meet De Vita’s cross.
Dundee had a rare second-half chance with nine minutes left but Gary Harkins skied the free-kick woefully from 22 yards out and the Dens men, all in all, offered far too little of worth.
Ross County: Brown, Fraser, Boyd, Quinn, Reckord, De Vita, Irvine, Woods, Gardyne (Cardle 69), Curran (Kiss 84), Boyce (Jervis 75). Subs not used: Reguero, Kiss, Meite, Sernas, Carey.
Dundee Bain, P. McGinn, McPake, Konrad, Dyer, S. McGinn, Thomson (Ferry 61), McAlister; Harris (Black 82), Stewart (Wighton 45), Harkins. Subs not used: Letheren, McBride, Gadzhalov, Colquhoun
Referee: Andrew Dallas. Attendance: 3,413