Colin McMenamin was the hero for the home side, responding to being dropped to the bench after a nine-game goal drought by coming on as a substitute to score the winner seven minutes from time.
Leigh Griffiths struck early on to give Hibernian the lead but Stuart Kettlewell equalised soon afterwards. Iain Vigurs then put County ahead but James McPake made it 2-2 on the stroke of half-time. Home manager Derek Adams had acted boldly in re-shaping his midfield but most notably dropping McMenamin, last season's top scorer, from the starting XI as he blooded teenager Steven Ross for a hard-working debut.
McMenamin, though, was quick to remind Adams of his worth when he came on. Afterwards the 31-year-old summed up what it meant to County to close the gap on Hibs, who are fourth in the SPL, to four points.
"We've played everyone bar Hearts now and nobody has given us the runaround," McMenamin said. "I'd go as far as saying we've more than matched everyone, including Celtic. It gives us great confidence that we can build on this – especially our home form. We feel we can start picking up a lot more points now.
"It was important we bounced back our the last game when we lost the Highland derby. We were desperate to get it out of our systems, to be honest. It has been a tough couple of weeks since it happened and we were delighted to put in a good performance and take three points."
It was a big moment for Ross, a 19-year-old local lad from along the road Balintore, but it was the men in green who tore from the traps first. After just six minutes, a dinked David Wotherspoon pass sent Griffiths sprinting through the middle of the County defence to slip the opener under goalkeeper Michael Fraser's body.
County reacted in the best possible way. Three minutes later, captain Richard Brittain's corner bounced off Hibs bodies in the six-yard box and Kettlewell reacted sharply to poke the ball into the roof of the net.
The excellent Vigurs had County dramatically ahead after 34 minutes when, from Brittain's high ball forward, the County midfielder nodded past outrushing keeper Ben Williams, keeping his cool with two defenders desperately back-tracking.
County succumbed again, however, when McPake gleefully met Griffiths' free-kick to volley home from 12 yards.
The match was finely balanced and keenly fought entering the second half but County went for it after 66 minutes with McMenamin's introduction.
Griffiths would arc a header just over and brush the top of the County bar, but it was the hosts who grabbed the points. A long Scott Boyd free-kick was flicked on by Gary Glen and there was McMenamin, instinctively positioned, to smack the ball home from close in.
Adams said: "We knew we would beat Hibernian today, it's as simple as that. We knew we had the character in the team and the better players. We had watched them and knew their weaknesses. We have closed the gap on Hibs to four points. We don't have half the budget or fanbase they have. We've had an excellent start to the SPL campaign."
Easter Road manager Pat Fenlon said: "We had chances in the second half to seal the game. I thought we played quite well in the second half and we're disappointed to lose it.
"I'm disappointed with our defending as a team. We didn't deal with long balls into our box. We invited too many from free-kicks."
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