Caley Thistle once again reaped the rewards of their rotation policy in a comfortable triumph over Alloa.
Inverness showed little sign of disruption when they rang the changes for the 3-1 victory over Morton in the previous round.
So it was no surprise to see the Highlanders adopt the same approach for the visit of another fellow Championship outfit.
The convincing nature of the victory was further evidence of Inverness’ strength in depth and the much-changed side showed a keen appetite to make an impression.
Of the three goalscorers, Mitch Curry and Matheus Machado netted their first strikes for the club, either side of a deflected Charlie Trafford effort.
With manager John Robertson once again opting to watch from the sidelines, Scott Kellacher was put in charge along with Barry Wilson and the Caley Jags assistant took huge satisfaction from the display.
Kellacher said: “They keep answering the questions we ask them, which is really pleasing.
“Young Cammy Mackay in goals did great along with Cameron Harper and Roddy MacGregor.
“There are boys on the fringes who are pushing, the likes of Charlie Trafford and David Carson, who have done great. We have always struggled to have a good squad, so it’s important we have got that now.
“We know if we do have an injury, we are putting in a good player as well and they are going to do the same sort of job.”
Inverness were on top throughout the first half, with all the goalmouth action headed the way of Wasps goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald. Miles Storey saw a shot flash wide following a corner, while Roddy MacGregor’s header from a Cameron Harper delivery forced MacDonald to claw the ball to safety.
Curry nearly inadvertently put Caley Jags in front on 14 minutes when he deflected Aaron Doran’s shot goalwards, however MacDonald gathered comfortably.
Inverness should have broken the deadlock on 28 minutes though, with MacGregror guilty of passing up a glorious chance when he nodded over unchallenged from six yards after being picked out by Shaun Rooney’s cross. The miss could have been costly, but Caley Jags’ timely breakthrough three minutes before the interval set them on the right path.
It came about through an error from the Wasps’ teenage debutant Nathan Gilhooly, whose loose ball across the back line was intercepted by Curry, who ran in on goal before clinically finding the bottom right corner.
It was a significant moment for Curry, who was making his first outing since recovering from an ankle injury which has kept him sidelined for the bulk of his loan spell from Middlesbrough which he made in the summer.
Kellacher feels the 20-year-old Curry gives Inverness a valuable extra striking option, and he said: “Mitch is a completely different striker from what we are used to. He likes to go behind, while Jordan White and Nikolay Todorov like to link up, be strong and have a battle.
“It’s something different. Alloa probably wouldn’t have been expecting the balls in behind. He worked hard for his goal – I’m delighted for him.”
Caley Jags continued to dominate at the start of the second half, with MacGregor seeing a low drive gathered by MacDonald following Harper’s short corner, while Doran drifted a shot narrowly wide.
Inverness seemingly wrapped up their passage into the last eight on 64 minutes, when Trafford took aim with a long range strike which deflected off a Wasps defender to take it past MacDonald.
Alloa could have opened a route back into the game moments later, however, when a neat link-up with substitute Robert Thomson sent Alan Trouten through on goal.
But Trouten struck the outside of the post with only Cammy Mackay to beat, while Andy Graham hit the bar with a late header.
Inverness wrapped up the win near full-time with Brazilian teenager Machado getting on the end of Miles Storey’s cross to steer past MacDonald from close range to net his first goal for the club, capping another productive afternoon.
Supporter’s view: A map for community reconnection
By David Sutherland
The view expressed by Inverness chief executive Scot Gardiner last week that the club needs to reconnect with the local community certainly caught my attention.
I think many fans of the club have recognised this has been a problem for quite some time and didn’t just start when Inverness were relegated.
We have heard over the years all the reasons why people don’t go to games – too expensive, too cold and the standard of football on show not being to their liking.
While I don’t really have much time for many of the reasons I hear, there is clearly room for improvement in the way the club interacts with the city.
If I were Gardiner I think I would start off with a map of Inverness, a list of where season-ticket holders live and some pins.
I’m pretty sure we would find great variance in the amount of support the club receives from different areas.
From that might come a plan to further develop the areas with strong support and initiatives to encourage support where it is weak.
Meanwhile, on the pitch, Caley Thistle progressed fairly comfortably to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup on Saturday in a game where it was good see the young lads doing well.
Compared to the league it may be of secondary importance, but I think we have a great chance to win this competition again.