Ross County progressed into the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup, but made hard work of seeing off a dogged Linlithgow Rose side in a 4-2 win at Victoria Park.
Paul Quinn’s early opener gave County the lead, but Rose were boosted on the stroke of half-time by Jamie Reckord’s own goal which levelled the scoring.
Goals from Brian Graham and Alex Schalk appeared to put the Staggies in command after the break, however Ruari MacLeannan pulled one back for the junior outfit. Graham’s second goal proved to be the killer blow, with the Staggies set to discover their last eight opponents in Monday’s draw.
County manager Jim McIntyre took the opportunity to reshuffle his side from the team that lined up against the Hoops, making six changes. Goalkeeper Gary Woods, defenders Jamie Reckord and Scott Boyd, midfielders Ian McShane, Jonathan Franks and Rafa De Vita, along with attacker Brian Graham came in, at the expense of Scott Fox, Michael Gardyne, Richard Foster, Stewart Murdoch, Martin Woods and skipper Andrew Davies.
County grabbed the early breakthrough after just four minutes, when Jackson Irvine’s header from Ian McShane’s corner came back off the post, but fell kindly for deputising skipper Paul Quinn to stab home his second goal in as many games from 10 yards.
Linlithgow showed intent at the other end though, with Conor Kelly striking just over, before Tommy Coyne saw his low strike held by goalkeeper Woods.
County continued to enjoy the majority of attempts though, with De Vita twice coming close with acrobatic efforts, while Brian Graham’s header forced a fine diving save by Alistair Adams.
The Staggies were far from home and dry however, and their slackness was duly punished just a minute before the break. Ruari MacLennan bore down on goal, with his shot saved by Woods, before Blair Batchelor’s follow up attempt was blocked on the line by Boyd, whose clearance rebounded off the back of Reckord and nestled in the net to give the visitors a huge boost.
McIntyre rang the changes at half-time, replacing Reckord and Franks with Foster and Gardyne. Just as tension was starting to build, the Staggies regained their lead on 58 minutes, when McShane’s corner was met by a bullet header from Graham, who directed the ball past Adams.
The goal settled the hosts back into their stride, and just moments after Quinn was denied a second goal due to the assisting free-kick having been taken too early, Schalk struck home from close-range following Jackson Irvine’s flick on to establish a two-goal cushion.
That looked to have given County some breathing space, but they were to be hit once again on 76 minutes, when Kelly’s low cross picked out the untracked run of MacLennan at the far post, who reduced the deficit to just one goal.
County responded with a quickfire fourth goal just two minutes later however, with Graham finding the space to nestle a strike into the bottom corner to finish off the job.