Injuries and suspensions forced Paul Hartley to make four changes. With Scott Bain suspended David Mitchell made his first start in goal. Julen Etxabguren and Thomas Konrad replaced the injured Kosta Gadzhalov and Paul McGinn, while Rory Loy replaced suspended skipper Gary Harkins, although in a more advanced role. Paul McGowan took over the captain's armband. 17 year old central defender Kerr Waddell was on the bench, making his first appearance in a senior squad. County made two changes. Martin Woods and Jonathan Franks came in for Jackson Irvine and Stewart Murdoch.
The game got off to a breathtaking start and the whirlwind action didn't let up for the rest of the first half. In the second minute Cammy Kerr launched himself at a diagonal ball from Nick Ross, but couldn't keep his header from six yards down. Kerr nearly set up the opening goal when Richard Foster fell over and missed McGowan's through ball, but Rory Loy's shot on the turn from the cut back lacked the power to beat keeper Gary Woods.
David Mitchell was quickly called into action when he had to beat away Alex Schalk's low cross shot. County then had a couple of corners, but it was the Dark Blues who opened the scoring with a fast break out of defence. Kane Hemmings' pass allowed Greg STEWART to run through the middle, check back onto his left foot and pass the ball around Woods and into the corner of the net from 18 yards, an impressively composed finish to an incisive move.
Only two minutes later, with just eight minutes on the clock the Dee went two ahead. Kevin Holt headed a Stewart pass down into the goalmouth. The Staggies' defence hesitated and Kane HEMMINGS seized the chance in a flash, whipping a low first time shot past Woods.
Stewart nearly added an instant third with another curling shot from the edge of the penalty area, but this one took a deflection that sent the ball wide.
Disappointingly after some thrilling attacking the Dark Blues gave away a soft goal from a corner after 14 minutes. Martin Wood's delivery to the near post was firmly headed past Mitchell by the unmarked Andrew DAVIES. County threatened to grab a shock equaliser when Michael Gardyne broke free down the left, but Woods volley from the cross was high and wide.
Dundee started to reassert their control of an open and hugely entertaining game in which neither defence looked entirely happy. The Dark Blues, however, had the edge in attack and threatened a nervous County defence with some slick moves.
After 37 minutes Dundee deservedly extended their lead. A lovely, flowing move ended with Nick Ross finding Loy in the penalty area. With his back to goal he played the ball back to Hemmings who tried a curling shot towards the top corner, only for LOY to divert the ball with a glancing header that left Gary Woods helpless as the ball sailed into the back of the net.
County had looked particularly vulnerable down their left flank, and after left back Richard Foster was booked for a dreadful foul on Stewart he was removed from the action before the referee did it for him. Stewart Murdoch replaced him, but the Staggies were given a tough time down that wing by Kerr and Stewart for the whole match.
The game was threatening to drift away from County, but to their credit, they dug their way back into the match with an important second goal just before the break. Alex SCHALK burrowed his way into the penalty area from the left, checked back onto his right foot and curled his shot towards Mitchell's top corner. The keeper got a hand to the ball, but it looped under the bar to confirm that plenty more work would be required from the Dee in the second half to clinch the win.
Shortly after the break there was a lengthy delay while Darren O'Dea was treated for a head knock, but happily he was able to continue. Hesitancy in the home defence gave Gardyne a half chance, but he slashed his shot well over the bar.
Dundee then twice went close from corners. First, McShane cleared Hemmings' header off the line and from the next corner O'Dea headed just over the bar. County threatened when Dundee failed to clear a free kick and Mitchell had to move smartly to block a Davies shot.
The game went through a flatter spell for 20 minutes. It was hardly tedious, but it lacked the fireworks we'd seen earlier, and would see again in the closing stages. Dundee always looked dangerous on the ball, without creating clear chances during this spell.
Yet again a central defender was forced out of the game through injury as Julen Etxabeguren was replaced after 72 minutes by Darryll Meggatt. The substitute stepped effectively into the defence, making some important challenges and interceptions.
Dundee's attacks became increasingly dangerous as County started to chase an equaliser. Kerr broke up an attack and charged forward only to be felled by a bad foul by Martin Woods. Stewart's free kick found Hemmings, whose header shaved the outside of the post.
Kevin Holt saw his header fly just too high after great play by Cammy Kerr, who was celebrating his new contract with a swashbuckling display down the right wing.
Craig Wighton replaced Rory Loy after 79 minutes, and six minutes later he scored his first goal of the season. Nick Ross's pass gave Greg Stewart the chance to cut in from the right wing. His shot from just inside the area was blocked, but the ball fell to WIGHTON who smashed the ball past Woods from 10 yards.
With the points safe the Dark Blues turned on the style in the last few minutes and it was no surprise when they scored a classy fifth. Another swift break out of defence saw Wighton move the ball on to STEWART, who shimmied into the penalty area, dancing one way, then the other, tying the defence in knots before applying the coup de grace with a cool finish into the corner of the goal from 16 yards. The keeper didn't even bother to move. Stewart was then replaced by Jesse Curran for the final minute, receiving a well deserved standing ovation from the Dark Blues' supporters.
At the final whistle the crowd rose to applaud the Dee and the tannoy blasted out "That's Entertainment" by the Jam. Dundee might not have been all that convincing in defence at times in the first half, but they were very impressive in attack. It was that extra flair and confidence that proved too much for a County team that never gave up, but who were second best on the day.
The Dark Blues and the Staggies have shared 20 goals equally in the three games this season. That's entertainment indeed, and this was just the sort of fare to send the supporters home with a smile.
Dundee FC 3-4-1-2
Konrad, Etxabeguren (Meggatt 72), O'Dea
Kerr, McGowan (c), Ross, Holt
Stewart (Curran 94)
Loy (Wighton 79), Hemmings
Unused subs: Gourlay (gk), Arturo, Colquhoun, Waddell.
Goals: Stewart (6, 92), Hemmings (8), Loy (37), Wighton (85)
Booked: Konrad (foul on Boyce), Holt (foul on Franks)
Ross County 4-4-1-1
Fraser, Quinn, Davies, Foster (Murdoch 43)
Franks (Dingwall 76), Martin Woods, McShane, Gardyne
Schalk (Graham 69)
Unused subs: Fox (gk), Robertson, Goodwillie, De Vita.
Goals: Davies (14), Schalk (44)
Booked: Davies (foul on Loy), Foster (foul on Stewart), Martin Woods (foul on Kerr)
Referee: Andrew Dallas. Assistants: Alasdair Ross, Ralph Gordon. Fourth official: Steven McLean.
Attendance: 5,095 (217 County supporters)
Report: James Christie