Ross County moved off the foot of the Premiership with a stunning 4-1 victory over Aberdeen.
The Staggies caught the Dons cold in the early stages, with Oli Shaw netting after just 36 seconds before Charlie Lakin doubled the lead on 20 minutes.
Although Derek McInnes’ men responded well, pulling one back through Alex Iacovitti’s own goal in first half stoppage time, County stood up impressively to the visitors and capped off the impressive victory with late goals from Shaw and Jermaine Hylton.
The result moves County into 10th place, with the Reds dropping to fourth.
County made five changes from the side which was defeated 3-1 by Livingston the previous weekend, with Connor Randall, Callum Morris, Regan Charles-Cook, Jermaine Hylton and skipper Iain Vigurs drafted in. Coll Donaldson, Keith Watson, Ross Draper, Jordan Tillson and Stephen Kelly.
Aberdeen made two changes from the team which went down 2-1 to Rangers at Pittodrie last Sunday, with goalscorer Matty Kennedy and Ross McCrorie drafted in for Dean Campbell and the suspended Ryan Hedges.
County made the perfect start, taking the lead after just 36 seconds. Jermaine Hylton robbed Andy Considine of the ball inside the Dons’ box before threading the ball through to Shaw, who drilled a low strike into Joe Lewis’ bottom right hand corner.
The Reds looked for a quick response, with Kennedy shooting wide from distance, while Curtis Main turned a Jonny Hayes cross wide at the near post.
Aberdeen were largely limited to efforts from distance, with Sam Cosgrove seeing a strike from 25 yards comfortably saved by Ross Laidlaw.
The Staggies doubled their advantage on 20 minutes however. Harry Paton was afforded too much space to deliver to the far post where he picked out Lakin, and the on-loan Birmingham City player tucked home his second goal in as many games.
Aberdeen were dealt another setback on the half hour mark, with Ash Taylor going off injured for Shay Logan.
The Dons showed a strong reaction however, with Kennedy denied from close range by an outstanding save by Laidlaw on 34 minutes, while Lewis Ferguson also saw a free kick brush the roof of the net.
There was more pressure five minutes later, with Laidlaw making another excellent save with his feet to thwart Scott Wright’s effort, with the Staggies goalkeeper doing well to deny Tommie Hoban from the resulting corner.
The Staggies could not hold out until half-time however, with Hoban’s header from a Hayes corner deflected into his own net by Iacovitti.
The goal was a major boost for the visitors going into the second half, however they struggled to break down a well organised Staggies rearguard. The Dons enjoyed brief spells of pressure, with Wright seeing another effort blocked by a crowded defence, however they were unable to test Laidlaw.
Aberdeen were dealt another injury blow midway through the second half when Hayes was forced off injured, being replaced by youngster Kieran Ngwenya.
County had struggled to create clear openings in the second period, however Shaw tried his luck from the edge of the box on 75 minutes with a strike which whistled narrowly over.
FT | ROS 4-1 ABE
A big 3 points for the Staggies at the Global Energy Stadium! pic.twitter.com/CBw072Re7b
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) January 16, 2021
The Staggies wrapped up the points six minutes from time, with Vigurs’ corner nodded across goal by substitute Draper, setting up Shaw to fire home on the turn.
County could have added a fourth in the dying stages, with Billy Mckay seeing an effort from the edge of the box whistle inches wide of Lewis’ left hand post.
Aberdeen’s day got even worse in injury time, with Hylton charging down Lewis on the edge of the box before rolling into the empty net.