Debutant Jordan Robertson was the hero for Dundee United as his goal only four
minutes from time gave the Tannadice club a hard-fought victory.
United took the lead in the 64th minute when Noel Hunt confidently scored from the penalty spot.
The lead did not last long as Andy Barrowman netted from close range from an Andy Dowie knock down.
But Robertson, on-loan from Sheffield United, blasted in from 10 yards with extra-time looming.
The game started promisingly as in the sixth minute a foul by Dowie on
Robertson gave United a free-kick 20 yards from goal and Willo Flood forced Tony
Bullock into a good save down to the keeper's right-hand side.
But it proved to be a false dawn, as there were no clear-cut chances created
throughout a disappointing opening period.
County struggled to get out of their own half during the early stages, although
they grew in confidence as the match progressed and finally fashioned an opening
three minutes before the interval.
Unsurprisingly it came from a set-piece as Garry Kenneth was penalised for a
foul on Iain Anderson on the right flank.
Iain Campbell took control of the resultant free-kick and his fine delivery was
only narrowly missed by the sliding Dowie in the centre of the home side's
United's efforts were summed up by an earlier Morgaro Gomis shot, which from
just outside the penalty area somehow managed to go out for a throw-in.
Following the restart Craig Levein's side continued in vain to try and break
through County's rugged defence and Bullock was only called into action to stop
a Prince Buaben drive with a routine save.
But United finally found a route to goal soon afterwards when Robertson was too
quick on the ball for McCulloch, who could only resort to body-checking his
Referee Crawford Allan had no hesitation in awarding a spot-kick for the
indiscretion and Hunt placed the ball high into the net.
Robertson continued to pose the County defence problems and in the 71st minute
saw a crisp shot gathered by Bullock.
However, the visitors then almost caught United cold as Barrowman turned Sean
Dillon with ease after receiving a pass from Sean Higgins and forced Szamotulski
into a great save.
Levein's team failed to learn from scare though and when a free-kick from Adams
was not claimed by Szamotulski, Barrowman was left with the simple task of
tapping-in from Dowie's header.
United retaliated immediately and Robertson smashed a searing volley off the
underside of Bullock's crossbar, before scoring the winner in the 86th minute to
cap a brilliant performance in the best way possible.
Following a flowing move Kalvenes' cross was just missed by the head of Gomis,
but Robertson was on hand to chest the ball down and drive a powerful shot past
the helpless Bullock.
Dundee Utd: Szamotulski, Dillon, Dods, Kenneth, Kalvenes,
David Robertson, Flood, Bauben (Kerr 73), Gomis, Hunt,
Jordan Robertson. Subs Not Used: McLean, Wilkie, Duff, Goodwillie.
Booked: Kenneth, Bauben, Hunt, David Robertson.
Goals: Hunt 65 pen, Jordan Robertson 88.
Ross County: Bullock, McCulloch (Brady 90), Golabek, Dowie,
Keddie, Scott (Webb 90), Iain Anderson (Moore 81), Adams,
Barrowman, Higgins, Campbell. Subs Not Used: Cartis, Petrie.
Booked: Golabek, Higgins, Campbell.
Goals: Barrowman 78.
Ref: C Allan (Scotland).