The bottom of the cinch Premiership has a markedly different feel to it after Ross County completed their first round of fixtures with a 5-0 win over Dundee, their first of the league season. The result at the Kilmac Stadium puts the Staggies one point behind their opponents just when it looked like they were in danger of being cut adrift.

A dominant first-half display, as blistering as the weather that battered the country, led to some home supporters heading for the exit before half-time. Goals from Harry Clarke, Ross Callachan Joseph Hungbo and Regan Charles-Cook gave Malkay Mackay’s side an unassailable lead by the break. Charles-Cook doubled his tally midway through the second half.

The match started fairly evenly; the visitors knocked the ball around while their hosts adopted a more direct style, pressuring the County backline at every opportunity. Dundee soon settled, with Charlie Adam the heartbeat. His half-volley from outside the box on 15 minutes, saved by the legs of Ashley Maynard-Brewer, was the closest his side came before they were blown away.

Clarke got things started minutes later with a clipped, high finish with the outside of his boot following a deft touch to outsmart Jordan Marshall, with Adam Legzdins failing to leave his line. Before the half-hour mark it was 2-0 when Jordan White charged down Legzdins’ clearance, allowing Callachan to cooly slot the ball into a gaping net. The custodian looked to lay the blame at Lee Ashcroft for the poor pass, and he may have had a point.

If the goalkeeper was at fault for the first two there was nothing he could do about the third, even if he was anticipating a cross. Instead, Hungbo’s arched his free-kick from around 35 yards right into the near top corner for a stunning first goal in County colours.

By half-time Charles-Cook added the fourth, though not before McPake made an alteration in an attempt to stem the flow of County attacks. Chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” rang down from the stands as Danny Mullen replaced Paul McMullan. His introduction was to fail to track Clarke, who enjoyed the freedom of the right, and his cross was eventually turned in by the Grenadian, with several of his team-mates also ready to pounce.

“We needed to start well. And we did,” said Mackay, who barked orders at his players until the death. “We got it down, got it to our wingers and caused havoc in the first half. I’m delighted with the whole team’s performance, but especially my back for and my goalie and my holding midfielder because they deserved the clean sheet.

Dundee made further changes after half-time, which drew further discontent, and McPake’s charges gave as good as they got for large spells, though always looked the more likely to concede next as County broke with purpose. 

The fifth came when yet another marauding run down the right flank from Harry Clarke in the 71st minute saw him set up Regan Charles-Cook to curl the ball into the bottom corner for his fourth of the season. Griffiths later stung the palms of Maynard-Brewer but it was the closest he came on a miserable night for him and his side.

"That's as bad a night as I've had in football," said a downbeat McPake. "It was a sobering result. We let the football club down tonight."