Jim Goodwin lamented a dismal defensive display as his Dundee United side slipped back to the foot of the cinch Premiership with a 3-1 home defeat at the hands of relegation rivals Ross County.
The Tayside outfit started the afternoon in 10th place and ended it two points adrift at the foot of the table with three games to play after being leapfrogged by both the Staggies and Kilmarnock.
A hat-trick of close-range finishes from Jordan White did the damage, and United manager Goodwin was furious with the way the County striker was allowed so much space.
“It was poor defensively, far too easy at times,” he said. “It was the basics, dropping players and not marking on the right side, something we have been good at for weeks.
“It’s really difficult to take because I felt we were making progress, so to defend like that and go back to losing goals like those, it is really disappointing.
“I thought we’d eradicated it but it has raised its ugly head again.
“We have been given credit for the fight, aggression and determination we have showed lately, but I felt the difference between the two teams was in the boxes.
“County man-handled (United striker) Steven Fletcher and were aggressive with him, but in our box Jordan White got too much joy. He dictated to our defenders today and that disappoints me.
“The players have been told it wasn’t acceptable. It’s probably best if I don’t say what was said.
“You can hold your hands up if a team carves you open but those three goals were so avoidable.
“We have put ourselves in a difficult position now with results elsewhere and we’re bottom of the table again.”
County boss Malky Mackay was delighted with the way his side handled the occasion as they set about silencing a bumper crowd of more than 10,000 United fans before climbing off the bottom of the table.
“We knew we had to start fast, knowing there was going to be 10,000 fans and the intensity that could bring for Dundee United,” said Mackay, whose side took the lead after just 38 seconds and then scored two more in the second half after Jamie McGrath’s first-half penalty had levelled things up.
“Coming out it was like the old days at Tannadice, all that tangerine, so it was terrific to see. I told them we have to start well and get the first goal, so we were delighted we did.
“At half-time I asked them to raise the energy levels and give what they gave against Livingston. We got our goals and could have scored another couple.”