Ross County move top of Group D after scoring four away at Elgin City in the Betfred Cup
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Elgin City 1 (Cameron)
Ross County 4 (Shaw, Iacovitti, Paton, Lakin)
Ross County moved to the top of Group D in the Betfred Cup with a solid win over Elgin City at Borough Briggs.
The Staggies had been one point behind their opponents going into the match, but ensured qualification for the second round stayed in their own hands thanks to goals from Oli Shaw, Alex Iacovitti, Harry Paton and Charlie Lakin.
The quality of the visitors' goals will be encouraging as they look to build momentum for their final group game and the Premiership, but there may be some frustration at being unable to keep a clean sheet – as well as losing another defender to injury.
County started really strongly, showing the class that you would expect from a top-flight side against a League Two outfit.
Harry Paton showed good vision to send Carl Tremarco through on the left flank, winning a corner in what would be the veteran full back's last involvement.
He was forced to come off after tweaking his hamstring, but before he left the pitch County had the lead.
From the corner, Stephen Kelly's ball into the middle was not cleared properly, falling to Oli Shaw who swept home for the third consecutive match with a little help from a deflection.
Elgin nearly responded immediately, with Kane Hester proving a particular thorn in the Staggies' side.
On three separate occasions he tested Ross Laidlaw, forcing the goalkeeper to dive to make important saves.
Laidlaw was bailed out by the offside flag at one point though, seeing Smart Osadolor's free kick late and only parrying it out to an Elgin shirt, but the free kick was given instead of an equaliser.
As the first half wore on, the home side impressively stopped County stringing passes together with a high-intensity pressing game, often pinning their visitors back in their own half.
Just before the interval though, Stuart Kettlewell's side burst back into life.
A nice passing move through the middle of the park sent Billy McKay through on goal, and though he dropped a shoulder to get Thomas McHale in the home net to commit, his effort on goal was blocked.
Josh Reid, who had come on for Tremarco, took the resulting corner which Alex Iacovitti met with his head.
The centre back's first shot was stopped by a great reaction save from McHale, but there was nothing Elgin could do about the follow up header which doubled County's lead, Iacovitti's first goal for the club.
Kettlewell will have impressed on his side the importance of not easing off at half time, with memories still fresh of the team's trip to Montrose, and the players came out firing at the start of the second half.
So much so in fact, that Harry Paton made it three within six minutes of the restart with a great finish after being played in by Mckay.
Once again, the hosts grew into the game, but this time sights of goal were few and far between after Hester was replaced.
One of County's own substitutes, would extend the lead even further with 15 minutes to go as Charlie Lakin scored his maiden Staggies goal direct from a free kick.
The match could quite easily have fizzled out from there, but just a few minutes later Elgin pulled one back through Bryan Cameron, who slotted into the bottom corner to leave Laidlaw rooted to the spot after a corner was only half-cleared.