Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson felt the Staggies put right the wrongs of Arbroath in beating Alloa Athletic 2-0 to top their Betfred Cup group.
Goals from Callum Morris and Harry Paton ensured County got the win they needed to progress in a game they dominated.
The 4-1 defeat by Arbroath on the Wednesday previous had cast some doubt over whether they would make it to the last 16, but Ferguson was pleased with how the job was done.
Ferguson said: “Alloa was always going to be difficult – they punch way above their weight with the resources they’ve got.
“But we had to look after our own business and the players did that.
“We set out at the start to win four games and win the group; we’ve won three and won the group.
“We weren’t happy collectively through the week but we put that right.
“Billy Mckay and Declan McManus are proven goalscorers in their own right, and adding that a bit of craft and guile behind them can hopefully provide the ammunition for them.”
Stuart Kettlewell and Ferguson made four changes from the 4-1 defeat by Arbroath, with the suspended Tony Dingwall joined on the sidelines by Stelios Demetriou, Dylan Dykes and Ryan Dow. Marcus Fraser, Jamie Lindsay, Josh Mullin and McManus all started.
Referee Greg Aitken left the game urgently prior to kick-off due to a family emergency, meaning there was a frantic hunt for a late replacement.
Just 15 minutes before kick-off, a grade four official was located to stand in as one of the assistants as Ryan Lee stepped up to take charge of the game.
Local grade-four referee Stewart Johnstone was named as the replacement assistant as kick-off was held back for 15 minutes.
Alloa needed a point to go through to the last 16 as Group A winners but were fortunate to still be level after just five minutes. McManus and Mckay had worked a fine opportunity for the latter and he looked to have opened the scoring after rounding Neil Parry but Andrew Graham intervened on the line.
Parry was called into action on 19 minutes and this time it was two midfielders combining, Jamie Lindsay teeing up Michael Gardyne to try for goal and force Parry to palm over.
Gardyne and McManus had chances that flashed across goal as the visitors hemmed Jim Goodwin’s side in.
Josh Mullin added to a lively first-half by whistling a free-kick past the far post and Parry again came to Alloa’s rescue, sticking out a right hand to block McManus’s low shot.
County broke the deadlock on 59 minutes after a half-cleared corner broke to Lindsay and when Parry blocked his effort into Mullin’s path, the wide man’s drive towards goal was deflected in by Morris.
Parry continued to thwart McManus, beating one effort away and blocking another with his legs, but Paton added a second in stoppage-time after Mckay’s close-range shot was saved.
Alloa Athletic (4-4-2) – Parry 7; Taggart 6, Karadachki 5, Graham 6, Dick 6, Cawley 6, Robertson 5 (Brown 77), Flannigan 5, Hastie 6, Trouten 6, Spence 6. Subs not used – Henry, Peggie, Goodwin, Hetherington.
Ross County (4-4-2) – Fox 6; Fraser 6, Watson 6, Morris 7, Kelly 6, Gardyne 7, Lindsay 6, Vigurs 7, Mullin 7 (Dow 77), Mckay 7, McManus 7 (Paton 89). Subs not used – Munro, Demetriou, Dykes, Morrison, R Dingwall.
Referee – Ryan Lee 7.
Man of the match: Michael Gardyne.