Ross County 4 Montrose 1
Ross County finished their Premier Sports Cup Group C in third spot thanks to an impressive 4-1 home victory over Montrose in the Highland sunshine.
Blair Spittal’s early strike had the Premiership side in front and Alex Iacovitti headed home a second after a decent spell for the League One visitors.
Jordan White and another from Spittal had County cruising before Craig Johnston replied for the Angus side.
The Dingwall team were already unable to qualify due to their forfeited matches against Forfar Athletic and Dundee, which resulted in 3-0 defeats as per SPFL rules.
Blair Spittal, left, celebrates his early opener for Ross County against Montrose.
A period of 10 days self-isolating as Covid affected a large proportion of the squad left County playing catch-up as well as suffering those sanctions which ended their hopes of making the knockout stages.
Malky Mackay got long-awaited his managerial career in the north started on Wednesday with a 1-0 win at Highland League champions Brora Rangers, while the Gable Endies lost 2-0 to Dundee.
Montrose, who made the promotion play-offs last term before being beaten by Morton, kick off their league season at Airdrie next weekend.
Shaping up smartly for the Saints
County were looking to build upon their midweek victory by building up their fitness and match sharpness ahead of the visit of double cup winners St Johnstone next Saturday.
There was no debut day for Austrian midfielder David Cancola, who was signed on Friday from Slovan Liberec.
On-loan Manchester City midfielder Alex Robertson and striker Jordan White came into the team, with Connor Randall and Oli Shaw dropping to the bench.
Ex-County striker Stewart Petrie, the manager of Montrose, made four changes from their midweek encounter.
In came Aaron Lennox, Paul Watson, Craig Johnston and Blair Lyons for Allan Fleming, Sean Dillon, Terry Masson and Mark Whatley.
A water break for the players midway through the first half.
The hosts again played with three at the back, with Coll Donaldson on the right, Alex Iacovitti on the left, with captain Keith Watson in the centre. Left-back Jake Vokins, who is on loan from Southampton, took a midfield berth on that side.
The Staggies got off to the perfect start when Spittal supplied a deadly finish in the box after a cut-back from Ross Callachan on the right was sent on by Dominic Samuel.
Good response from the visitors
Montrose, who settled well after that, were almost level on 17 minutes when a Lewis Milne cross from the right was just a whisker away from meeting the in-rushing Johnston.
However, County were two ahead on 35 minutes when Spittal, after exchanging passes with Vokins, drove a delivery on and Iacovitti headed home his second goal in two games.
Alex Iacovitti celebrates after making it 2-0 to Ross County.
Montrose won an early corner from a blocked Johnston shot in the first attack of the second half then Samuel headed over at the other end when he met a Vokins cross.
White swerver takes tie out of reach
It was 3-0 though on 53 minutes thanks to a neat goal from County as Callachan and Spittal linked up before lining up White, who swerved a wonderful shot past Lennox.
Just a few minutes later, it was four as Spittal guided home a 20-yarder after a tidy pass was fed to him by Jordan Tillson.
Ross County striker Jordan White celebrates his goal against Montrose.
Montrose pulled one back when Johnston pounced in the penalty box to tuck the ball beyond goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw.
The result meant that County leapfrogged their opponents in third position in the group to at least end this season’s competition on a high note.
In the table-top clash today, Dundee defeated nearest challengers Forfar Athletic 5-2 to win the section and progress into the next stage.
Match Report courtesy of Press and Journal
Team Lineups & Stats
Premier Sports Cup
Saturday 24th July 2021
|1|| Ross Laidlaw
||21|| Aaron Lennox
|3|| Jake Vokins (s84)
||19|| Liam Callaghan (s62)
|7|| Blair Spittal
||3|| Andrew Steeves
|8|| Ross Callachan (s54)
||4|| Matty Allan
|10|| Dominic Samuel (s84)
|11|| Alexander Robertson (s45)
||22|| Craig Brown (s57)
|15|| Keith Watson (c)
||7|| Graham Webster
|16|| Alex Iacovitti
||8|| Paul Watson (c) (s62)
|22|| Jordan Tillson
||16|| Craig Johnston
|25|| Coll Donaldson
||10|| Lewis Milne (s80)
|26|| Jordan White (s68)
||11|| Blair Lyons (s57)
|2|| Connor Randall (s45)
||14|| Seán Dillon (s57)
|9|| Oli Shaw (s54)
||15|| Mark Whatley (s80)
|30|| Matthew Wright (s68)
||6|| Terry Masson (s62)
|33|| Ben Williamson (s84)
||23|| Martin Rennie (s57)
|34|| Ryan MacLeman (s84)
||12|| Chris Antoniazzi (s62)
|21||Ross Munro||24|| Sam Garnham
|1|| Allan Fleming
Jonathan Bell, Elliot Husband
Ross County - Blair Spittal (6, 56), Alex Iacovetti (35), Jordan White (53)
Montrose - Craig Johnston (62)
Montrose - Andrew Steeves (75)