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Malky Mackay praised his Ross County side for the way they have recovered from their worst day of the season to ease their relegation concerns.

The Staggies looked to be staring at demotion to the cinch Championship when they languished four points adrift at the foot of the Premiership after losing 6-0 away to Hearts in the last pre-split fixture last month.

But they bounced back with a home win over Livingston in their first post-split match and then followed it up with a 3-1 victory away to Dundee United on Saturday to climb off the bottom of the table.

“It was an awful day, it was the worst performance of the year by a million miles,” said Mackay, reflecting on the way his team responded to their Tynecastle debacle. “We had a two-week break after the Hearts game and the first week back in it was time give them a cuddle and relax.

“It was time to lick our wounds, it wasn’t a time for me to react or go mad at them or go in a huff with them.

“We were going into the last five games and I know from experience that calmness in the last five games is what counts. It’s about having a calm training ground.

“Going into the Livingston game, there was a lot of pressure on us and people were wondering how we’d react but we reacted in a really positive way.

“It’s about keeping that going for these last few games. It’s really tight and we go to Motherwell next which will be really tough but we’re looking forward to it.”

Mackay was delighted to see striker Jordan White take his tally for the season to 10 goals with a close-range hat-trick at Tannadice.

“Jordan White takes some stick for a lack of goals but he’s been fundamental for me over the last two years,” said the Staggies boss.

“He works hard and other clubs know he causes them problems. It’s not just about his goals. Last year, Regan Charles-Cook, Joe Hungbo and Blair Spittal scored 27 goals (between them) and a lot of that was to do with Jordan.

“He’s looking good alongside the other strikers. I am delighted for him to get a hat-trick.”

Just as County looked doomed a few weeks ago, United seemed to be on their way to safety after winning their last three post-split fixtures.

But Jim Goodwin’s side – for whom Jamie McGrath scored a first-half penalty on Saturday – now find themselves three points adrift at the bottom going into their last three matches after suffering back-to-back defeats.

“We have been there before and got back off the bottom, so we have to do it again,” said Goodwin.

“We have three games to go so we have to try to win every single one of them because Ross County and Kilmarnock will pick up points.

“We have to raise our game for Livingston and go there with belief and personal pride. We have to show a bit of courage now.”