Boyce and Davies get the goals as Ross County down Dundee United
A Liam Boyce penalty and an Andrew Davies goal did the damage early on for Ross County as they secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dundee United.
A wonder-goal from Sean Dillon hauled United right back into the match at Global Energy Stadium and they pressed hard for an equaliser in the last quarter - but it did not come.
County threatened early on and Boyce headed a deep cross from Jonathan Franks over the crossbar, before the same player tested United's Luis Zwick with an angled drive from the edge of the six-yard box which the goalkeeper palmed away.
United were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position in the 12th minute but Scott Fox flung himself to his left to make the save - and five minutes later County took the lead with Boyce's spot-kick - awarded after Mark Durnan handled in the box.
The goal fired United up and Ryan Dow got behind the County defence from a Billy McKay assist but Fox flew off his line to block his shot. McKay and Dow combined again but once again Fox closed him down to make the save.
County doubled their lead in the 28th minute. Franks had an effort cleared off the line by Ryan McGowan and from the resulting corner Franks swung the ball over for the unmarked Davies, who fired a first-time shot low into the net from 12 yards.
Davies almost scored again shortly afterwards when he headed over from another Franks corner.
Spittal shrugged off the attentions of County's Fraser in the 50th minute but instead of having a shot at goal he elected to play in McKay but his pass was read by Fox.
County looked to be coasting but a wonder-strike from Sean Dillon from fully 30 yards flew into the top corner of the net to get United right back in the game.
The goal was the encouragement United needed and Spittal was not far away with a shot which cleared the crossbar.
Zwick had to be alert in dealing with a couple of snap shots in quick succession from Boyce and Franks, before Irvine weaved his way into a shooting position in the 73rd minute but his goalbound shot was blocked by the feet of the visitors goalkeeper.
United were well on top for most of the second half and County were restricted to the odd breakaway move - but County survived sustained pressure in the last quarter from the visitors to take all three points.