Two late goals were not enough for Ross County as new co-managers Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell saw their side beaten 3-2 by Kilmarnock in their first game in charge in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Billy McKay and Alex Schalk scored in the last five minutes but goals from Lee Erwin, Kris Boyd and Eamonn Brophy sealed another three points at home for Killie who went nine games unbeaten.
Erwin opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour before Boyd netted his 14th league goal of the season. Brophy grabbed a birthday goal to finish things off.
Ferguson and Kettlewell took over from Owen Coyle last week but defeat here, coupled with Partick Thistle picking up a point at home to Aberdeen, leaves the Highland club eight points from safety.
Erwin could have put the home side ahead with his first attempt of the day after less than 10 minutes, but saw his left-footed shot saved well by Aaron McCarey.
A neat one-two between Greg Kiltie and Stephen O’Donnell on the edge of the County box allowed the full-back to find the striker in acres of space in the middle of the area, but McCarey was quickly down to his left to parry it away.
Erwin did grab the goal his early energy merited, when he directed a half-volley into the bottom corner from O’Donnell’s cross, in a move started by the resurgent Boyd.
The home side were buoyant for a spell shortly after their goal but eventually their tempo dropped. County offered nothing going forward and repeatedly conceded possession in the middle of the park.
Kilmarnock were content to sit off them and wait for any mistakes and were in no hurry to rush the ball themselves, but for a late flurry on the stroke of half time when Aaron Tshibola headed over and Rory MacKenzie had a long range sail too high.
Boyd tucked home from inside the box to keep up his record of scoring in every game in March for Killie, before the away side even any chance to put what Ferguson and Kettlewell had said in the dressing room at half-time into practice.
The veteran striker almost doubled his account in the 55th minute when he was slid through one-versus-one with McCarey inside the box but this time the keeper was equal to his effort.
Boyd’s job for the day was done after 71 minutes and his replacement Brophy rifled home the third after he burst free down the right, interchanged with MacKenzie on the edge of the box and fired a shot high past the helpless McCarey.
McKay capitalised on miscommunication in the Kilmarnock defence to score with the away side’s first shot on target. With the seconds ticking down County grabbed another through Schalk when the home defence failed to deal with Michael Gardyne’s cross but it was too little too late.