Dundee United finally returned to winning ways in the cinch Premiership with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Ross County at Tannadice.
Substitute Nicky Clark was the home hero, cancelling out Regan Charles-Cook’s opener from the penalty spot before scoring the winner in stoppage time.
The result ended a run of six straight league defeats for the Tangerines, who remained seventh in the table but moved level on points with Aberdeen.
The first chance of the game arrived in the 10th minute when United’s Tony Watt sent a tempting cross in from the left all the way to Marc McNulty at the back post but the striker was at full stretch and could not turn the ball in.
The home side were on top throughout the opening stages with the Staggies struggling to gain a foothold in the game.
However, County boss Malky Mackay was demanding a penalty for his side from the touchline in the 27th minute when the ball appeared to strike United midfielder Dylan Levitt’s arm in his own box but referee David Munro saw no offence.
McNulty then capitalised on a defensive error but his shot from 20 yards was easily gathered by County goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer.
There was a scare for United just three minutes after the restart when Freeman turned a cross from County striker Jordan White inches past his own post.
And it was the Highland side who broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Substitute Harry Baldwin struck a long-range shot which United keeper Benjamin Siegrist did well to parry, but the ball fell for Charles-Cook who fired high into the back of the net.
The County scorer had a chance to double his side’s advantage in the 67th minute as he burst into the box, but this time Siegrist was able to push his shot over for a corner.
United responded with Ian Harkes hitting a fierce drive that Maynard-Brewer blocked at his near post.
However, the keeper was beaten from the penalty spot seven minutes later.
Clark had a shot blocked by Staggies defender Declan Drysdale on the ground inside his box and the referee adjudged he had handled the ball and pointed to the spot, with Clark stepping up to squeeze his penalty just past Maynard-Brewer to draw the hosts level.
And United scored their dramatic late winner in the first minute of added time when Watt swung a cross in from the right and Clark headed home past Maynard-Brewer.
What the managers said…
Dundee United boss Tam Courts: “Nicky Clark does what Nicky Clark does best with the equaliser and winner. I am delighted for him.
“Going behind was bitterly disappointing but we had subs who could help the team.
“Nicky is still a predator at this level. I trust him so much.
“The penalty was a foregone conclusion and his winner was a sublime header.”
Ross County boss Malky Mackay: “We had two or three great chances and their keeper made a few cracking saves so I am disappointed that we lost the game.
“But we need to try and keep the momentum going because we played OK.”
Dundee United travel to Celtic on Saturday at 3pm, while Ross County host Rangers live on Sky Sports Football earlier that day (12.30pm).