Aberdeen’s hopes of finishing best of the rest in the Premiership were severely dented when they went down to a narrow defeat in Dingwall this afternoon.
The 2-1 defeat to County means Rangers are now seven points clear of the Dons in second spot, although Aberdeen still have a game in hand.
Liam Boyce’s 10th goal of the season gave County the lead against the run of play in the first half.
County only held on to that lead thanks to some inspired goalkeeping from Scott Fox, who made two top class saves from net-bound efforts by Dons midfielder Kenny Mclean.
In fairness to the Highlanders, Dons No1 Joe Lewis was also at his best during what was a highly entertaining opening 45 minutes.
Niall McGinn came off the bench to equalise midway through the second half.
County were then reduced to 10 men when Kenny Van Der Weg was sent off for an X-rated tackle on Jonny Hayes.
But the Staggies stole the points when Dow nodded the winner with two minutes to go.
It was cruel on the Dons who dominated most of the match.
But they failed to take their chances and allowed County to grab a win that boosts their hopes of avoiding relegation and will have been greeted warmly down Govan way too.
Dons boss Derek McInnes made one change to the side that had started the match against Motherwell that was abandoned in midweek, with Wes Burns coming in for Peter Pawlett.
Paul Quinn returned from injury for the suspended Jay McEveley to captain County against his former club.
Only 17 seconds had passed before County committed their first foul on James Maddison.
The Dons midfielder recovered to help force their first corner, after a clever exchange of passes with McLean.
Maddison took the kick from the left and his cross just evaded Anthony O’Connor at the back post.
County’s response was a long range effort from Chris Routis that flew wide of the target.
Dons keeper Lewis denied County the lead in the seventh minute.
The Englishman made an outstanding block from a close range effort by Tony Dingwall.
The County man also got to the rebound first but Dingwall’s effort from that was knocked behind for a corner by Graeme Shinnie.
County keeper Fox did his bit in the 20th minute, diving full length to his left to push a powerful McLean shot from 25 yards wide for a corner.
Fox also pushed away a drive from Jonny Hayes and held a close range header from Jayden Stockley as the Dons began to get into their sride.
McLean was only inches away from scoring the opener in the 25th minute.
The Dons midfielder collected a pass from Maddison and hammered in a shot from 30 yards that just cleared the County crossbar.
Despite that spell of pressure it was County who took the lead in the 26th minute.
Michael Gardyne played the ball across from the left and County top scorer Liam BOYCE nipped in at the back post to net from close range.
Going behind was extremely harsh on the Dons and they were unfortunate not to draw level within minutes when McLean’s excellent pass left Shinnie in the clear on the left.
He then raced to the byline and the in-rushing Maddison just failed to connect with Shinnie’s low driven cross at the back post.
Dons defender Andrew Considine was booked in the 35th minute for what referee Craig Thomson indicated to be persistent fouling.
Lewis denied County a second goal when he made a fine save from Craig Currans powerful effort.
County’s Tim Chow was cautioned in the 39th minute for what was the latest of several fouls on Maddison.
The Dons midfielder before the free-kick could be taken and they were desperately unfortunate to draw level from it.
McLean took the kick from 25 yards out and his effort was going in at the bottom corner until Fox threw himself to his left to get his finger tips to the ball and deflect it wide for a corner.
It was Dons keeper Lewis’ turn for heroics seconds before the break.
He made a brave save to deny Curran from close range to ensure the Dons went in at the interval still in with a chance of retrieving something.
There were no changes for the restart.
The first chance of the half fell to Routis but his 20-yard free-kick flew well off target.
The Dons replaced Burns with Niall McGinn in the 52nd minute.
Aberdeen missed a decent chance in the 56th minute when Ryan Jack played the ball into the County area from the right.
Hayes was unmarked at the back post but scooped his shot well off target.
County then brought Ryan Dow on for Tony Dingwall.
Anthony O’Connor shaved the top of the County crossbar with a long range drive just before the Dons brought Adam Rooney on for Stockley with an hour gone.
The Irish striker was only a fraction away from connecting with a McLean through ball within a minute of coming on.
County replaced the injured Gardyne with Jonathan Franks in the 67th minute.
Aberdeen got the equaliser they deserved in the 68th minute.
Shay Logan’s low cross from the right was dummied by Rooney and that left McGINN in the clear at the back post to calmly slot the ball into the net.
Maddison almost made it 2-1 a minute later. He bamboozled the County defenders with his quick feet inside their area before seeing his shot roll wide of the target.
County made their final change in the 75th minute, when Alex Schalk replaced Curran.
Lewis made another fine save from Shalk’s effort from six yards out two minutes later.
County’s Kenny Van Der Weg was deservedly red carded in the 81st minute for a shocking late lunge on Hayes right in front of the dugouts.
The Dons players and coaching staff reacted angrily and there was a bit of a melee before referee Thomson restored calm by immediately sending Van Der Weg off.
The Dons brought Miles Storey on for Jack with five minutes to go.
County snatched the points when DOW’s looping header found the net in the 88th minute after the Dons defence failed to deal with a cross from the right.
The Dons threw keeper Lewis forward at a corner deep into injury-time but County held on to claim the victory.