Ross County manager Jim McIntyre was relieved his side overcame testing conditions to progress to the second round of the Betfred Cup after claiming the bonus point against Arbroath.
The sides had cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw in blustery conditions at Gayfield, with midfielder Tim Chow netting the all-important spot kick in a 5-4 shootout victory.
The result ensured County ended the Group D campaign on 10 points, and although they finished behind winners Hibernian on goal difference, their tally is enough to go through as one of the four best-placed runners-up.
McIntyre was happy his team did enough to advance and said: “We were not at our best, but conditions made that very difficult.
“We made some glorious chances to win it but we found a goalkeeper who was in very good form who made a couple of incredible saves in the second half.
“Arbroath came into it in the last 20 minutes and put us under pressure, but the wind was a problem all day.
“It is a real spoiler when it’s blowing like that. It makes it difficult, and the pitch was difficult as well.
“We still created good opportunities to take the lead, but we didn’t take them.
“As long as the game remained 0-0 the opposition always had a chance and I could see they got a bit of belief. I’ve got to give them credit as well.”
County open their Premiership campaign away to Dundee on Saturday and although McIntyre knows there is plenty still to polish, he is pleased with preparations having failed to get out of the group stage last season.
McIntyre added: “It’s four games, we’re unbeaten, we’ve not conceded any goals and we’ve scored eight.
“There’s a lot of positives there.
“The bottom line is it’s about qualifying and we know we’re capable of beating anyone on our day in the next round.
“We wanted to win the group, but we had to make sure we were in the hat for the draw.
“It’s a good way for us to approach the first league game, but equally we know there is plenty of things to work on.”
Arbroath made the better start, with Danny Denholm’s shot coming off the outside of the post after just two minutes, however chances were at a premium for both sides in the remainder of the first half.
Craig Curran spurned an excellent chance to give County the lead just after the break, when his effort was blocked by the legs of goalkeeper David Hutton after going through one-on-one from Chow’s headed through ball.
The introduction of former Dundee United attacker Thomas Mikkelsen in place of Curran gave the Staggies fresh impetus, and the Danish attacker was twice thwarted by superb saves by Hutton, first from a near-post header, before the former Aberdeen goalkeeper dived full-stretch to tip a curling 15-yard effort wide.
The match went to penalties, and although Michael Gardyne and Mikkelsen missed the target for County, goalkeeper Scott Fox’s crucial saves from Ricky Little and David Gold allowed Chow to have the final say with the decisive penalty.