Simon Murray’s second-half header was enough to give Ross County a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, where there was a late refereeing controversy.
The striker capitalised on some poor Killie marking to head Yan Dhanda’s dangerous cross past Will Dennis in the 53rd minute.
Kilmarnock thought they had equalised with five minutes remaining as defender Stuart Findlay headed home.
However, referee Kevin Clancy had already blown for a penalty – which Danny Armstrong then failed to convert.
Killie had enjoyed more of the ball, but struggled to create chances in a match which also saw referee Clancy reverse an earlier decision to award the visitors a penalty after a VAR intervention.
Aside from an early opening for Thomas Davies which was deflected wide, neither side was able to create anything clear-cut.
There was, though, a moment of drama in the 38th minute as Findlay tackled Murray in the penalty area and referee Clancy pointed straight to the spot.
However, it appeared the Kilmarnock defender had played the ball and VAR Greg Aitken called Clancy over to the pitchside monitor where he quickly reversed his decision.
Spurred on by their reprieve, Killie surged forward and Brad Lyons saw his flicked attempt parried away by County keeper Ross Laidlaw.
At the start of the second half, Matty Kennedy looked to inject some quality, picking up the ball and driving at the County defence before firing a left-footed shot just wide.
Ross County had offered little as an attacking threat, but they took the lead on 53 minutes.
Dhanda delivered a threatening free-kick from the right and Murray got free of a static home defence to head in at the near post from six yards.
Kilmarnock looked to respond, but they almost found themselves 2-0 down just after the hour mark as Jack Baldwin’s persistence created an opportunity for Jordan White, who could only side-foot over from eight yards out.
The home side introduced Andrew Dallas for his debut in the 66th minute and they bombarded the County box with crosses, but the ball just would not drop for them.
Kyle Magennis tested Laidlaw with a dipping shot from distance on 82 minutes before the late penalty drama.
Findlay appeared to have headed Killie level from Armstrong’s free-kick.
However, amidst confusion, the referee had already awarded a penalty to the hosts instead for a shirt pull on Lyons.
Kilmarnock were enraged – and their frustration was multiplied when Armstrong saw his poor penalty well saved by Laidlaw low to his right.