Kilmarnock's agonising wait for a first Scottish Premiership victory came to an end thanks to a brilliant piece of play from Jackson Irvine.
Kris Boyd had initially given the hosts the lead, angling the ball away from Mark Brown under pressure from Michael Gardyne.
Boyd then had another effort off the underside of the bar.
But it was Irvine's sweet strike from a short free-kick that emphatically sealed the points for Killie.
The Ayrshire outfit's chairman, Michael Johnston, might have been looking on content with the performance and the result as they extended the gap at the bottom between themselves and Hearts to 13 points.
However, a Killie fans' protest both in the 18th minute and the 69th minute of the game - to symbolise 1869, the year the club were founded - would have felt bittersweet.
Red cards were raised as the hosts' supporters continued to vent their frustration at the way the club has been run, but fans were already shouting after Boyd's opener.
Just 90 seconds before the protest erupted, Gardyne's attempt to win an aerial challenge in the box saw the ball break to the former Scotland striker.
His first attempt was blocked by County defender Scott Boyd, but while he and team-mate Brian McLean failed to show the necessary urgency to clear their lines, the Killie frontman pounced to poke home.
Boyd had another chance midway through the first half, but he fired over the bar as another ball into the box caused confusion in the visitors' defence.
An injury to Kilmarnock's Rabiu Ibrahim, who was stretchered off after a collision with Darren Maatsen, did not knock the hosts off their stride as they went close to extending their lead.
Darren Barr's back-post header from Barry Nicholson's inswinging free-kick caused McLean more problems. The defender was forced to hack away from underneath his own bar after he almost put through his own net with a dodgy first touch.
Boyd passed up another gilt-edged opportunity three minutes into the second period when Irvine fed Gardyne in midfield before the on-loan Dundee United man produced a perfect through-ball that Boyd could only redirect onto the bar from 15 yards out.
County sought a way back into the match and Mihael Kovacevic thought he had found an equaliser after Kilmarnock goalkeeper Craig Samson had slipped, but the shot-stopper redeemed himself to deny the defender.
Just as another protest had died down from the home support, they were up on their feet again as Irvine's stunning strike from a short Barry Nicholson free-kick ensured a vital victory for Allan Johnston's men.
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