JO HUNGBO came off the bench to shoot Ross County into the top six by keeping his cool while all around Aberdeen's players were losing their self-control at the award of a controversial late penalty.

The on loan Watford winger was subjected to extended gamesmanship from a number of opponents while Jonny Hayes and Lewis Ferguson focussed their wrath on referee Greg Aitken.

The official pointed to the spot when the ball struck Hayes' arm but when the dust settled Hungbo drilled the kick straight down the middle for his seventh goal of the season.

Of course it was the most important as it propelled a team bottom of the division after the first ten games into the top half for the first time in six years with a chance of European football to follow.

By contrast it's the group stage of the League Cup for Aberdeen and that's not what Dave Cormack had in mind when he replaced Derek McInnes with Stephen Glass in March last year.

The club enjoyed seven consecutive top four finishes under McInnes but the chairman's gamble on a rookie replacement bringing greater success failed in less than 12 months.

Jim Goodwin's arrival was too late to salvage a ninth successive season of European football and had their supporters singing "you're not fit to wear the shirt" at the end.

In a season that's also included early cup exits against Raith Rovers and Motherwell, that should be a source of embarrassment given the quality of the players available at Pittodrie.

Goodwin wouldn't argue with that assessment but he is also willing to shoulder some of the blames after a run of one win in seven games since taking charge.

He said:"For a club of this size, with that squad of players, to miss out on top six, it’s extremely regrettable.We’re not going to shy away from what’s happening and I’m going to take my fair share of the responsibility.

"I’ve been in seven weeks, I think I’ve had enough time to turn it around, and I haven’t been able to do that. It’s as simple as that."

By contrest Malky Mackay is the fifth man to take charge of the Staggies in the relatively short time since they last finished in the top six then but the Dingwall board can take considerably consolation in that choice.

After all, the former Cardiff City manager has taken the team from a run of one win and six points from their first eleven league games to just three defeats and 19 points from the last eleven.

The only problem could be holding on to a manager with a revitalised reputation but he does have a strong connection with chairman and club owner Roy MacGregor who celebrated this achievement as much as the players and travelling fans.

Mackay said"Roy’s not an overly emotional person but what I know is that he’s an incredibly passionate football fan and he cares deeply about that club.

“I think the stability at our football club; the fact he’s been there as a constant over the last 20 years; that the club have been in the top-flight nine of the last 10 years when there’s four or five thousand people who live in Dingwall; that the books have to be balanced - It’s great testament to him.

“I’m delighted for him more than anything. He came in and had a little moment or two with the players which was important for me, to be honest with you."

As for the game itself, it only really burst into life when Greg Aitken gave the penalty as for all the frentic play neither goalkeeper was troubled, not that Ross County cared about that.