Dundee United 1-0 Ross County

Dundee United climbed up to second place in the Scottish Premiership with a battling victory against Ross County at Tannadice.

Gary Mackay-Steven completed a well-worked move to net the second half strike that separated the sides.

The visitors were pinned back for long spells, although Melvin De Leeuw came close with a low drive.

Brian Graham twice headed straight at County 'keeper Michael Fraser as United remained dominant throughout.

The win extends United's winning streak to six matches and pushes Jackie McNamara's men into second place in the league due to Inverness Caledonian Thistle playing Aberdeen in Saturday's late kick-off.

However, it also brings to an end their impressive sequence of five wins in which they have scored four goals or more, although the home fans will remain content with the club's fine run of form.

County, meanwhile, continue to languish at the foot of the table on 11 points, having not won a match since October, with Hearts 14 points further adrift at the bottom.

Inside the opening five minutes, Ryan Gauld's header from a corner was edged over the bar by Ross County's Michael Kovacevic.

Brian McLean slid in to take the ball from the feet of Gauld with the Dundee United player bearing down on goal, then Graham sent the ball over the County crossbar from barely eight yards out.

Graham Carey's glancing header edged wide of Radoslaw Cierzniak's left-hand post as Ross County pressed forward with a positive attacking spell.

Moments later, Carey almost caught out Cierzniak with a free-kick that bounced high over the 'keeper's head and struck the crossbar.

Stuart Armstrong delivered a curling ball from the wide on the right and Graham leapt above the County defence, but sent his header straight into the arms of 'keeper Fraser.

Shortly after the half-hour mark, Ross County's De Leeuw fired a low, right-footed shot from the edge of the United box that inched past Cierzniak's left-hand post.

A superb run by United's Mark Wilson down the right-hand side produced a delightful cross for Graham, who leapt above the County defence and yet again aimed a header straight into the hands of Fraser.

The second half started more sedately, although John Rankin was unlucky to see a 25-yard shot edge over the County crossbar, then Armstrong's long-range effort whistled wide of the mark.

Fraser pulled off a terrific save when Nadir Ciftci nodded a corner goalwards, the County 'keeper demonstrating cat-like reflexes to tip the ball over the bar.

It quickly became one-way traffic, with County pinned back in their own half as United sought the opener.

The goal deservedly arrived after 69 minutes when a well-worked counter-attack involving substitute David Goodwillie and Armstrong ended with Mackay-Steven slotting the ball past Fraser from close-range.

Ciftci tested his luck with a long-range effort 10 minutes from full-time, then Rankin followed suit with a similarly hopeful effort that failed to hit the target.

But Mackay-Steven's fine strike was enough for United to continue their impressive unbeaten run and keep up the pressure at the top end of Scotland's top-flight.

As It Stood

2Dundee Utd179532232
4Inverness CT1610241132
6St Johnstone16646522
8St Mirren16448-1216
10Partick Thistle16358-1314
11Ross County163211-1511
View full Scottish Premiership table

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