Dundee United’s crisis intensified at the Global Energy Stadium as they slipped four points behind relegation rivals Ross County after a 4-0 defeat.
It was a measure of County’s dominance that in addition to scoring four they also hit the woodwork and were twice thwarted by VAR.
Eamonn Brophy was the principal architect of United’s downfall as they crashed to a sixth consecutive defeat with two goals and two assists.
This was also County’s biggest win of the season and it could so easily have been by an even more emphatic margin.
Brophy increased the pressure on United after just six minutes of what was effectively a relegation scrap at this point in time at least.
The on-loan striker judged his effort from a tight angle wide left to perfection after the defence, in particular Charlie Mulgrew, had misjudged a long ball over the top, finding the bottom-left corner of the net in the process.
Brophy, whose services from St Mirren have been secured until the end of the season, almost doubled his tally three minutes later when the defence was once again ruthlessly exposed.
This time Brophy struck the right post with his shot from just outside the box after Yan Dhanda had provided the ammunition.
Victor Loturi also tested United’s nerve with a shot from outside the box that was blocked under pressure.
But it took County just a further five minutes to pile further agony on a United side without a Premiership victory since January 2.
Brophy swapped roles with Dhanda when he turned provider for the midfielder to execute a clean finish from the centre of the 18-yard box with just 14 minutes on the clock.
United feared that the situation was about to get a whole lot worse after 29 minutes when Jack Baldwin claimed his header from Jordan White’s assist had crossed the goal-line after first striking the post.
But United earned a reprieve when a VAR check went against the County captain.
VAR was again brought into play eight minutes after the restart when White scrambled the ball over the line.
But, after a ridiculously lengthy check lasting at least five minutes, the initial offside ruling stood.
It turned out to be no more than a stay of execution for United when White headed County’s third goal in the 62nd minute after combining with Brophy to carve open a defence already living on its nerves.
Brophy put the seal on a superb afternoon’s work when he broke free in the 70th minute and then completed a powerful run before firing his second and County’s fourth goal wide of despairing goalkeeper Jack Newman.
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