Ross Stewart’s brace ensured Ross County’s place in the last four of the IRN-BRU Cup in a 2-1 win over Motherwell colts.
The former St Mirren striker netted twice in a frantic five-minute period, either side of Adam Livingstone’s free-kick, against the 10-man hosts.
Christian Mbulu was sent off for Stephen Craigan’s side in the aftermath of their equaliser, as a spirited display from the young Steelmen went unrewarded.
County co-bosses Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell named an attacking line-up, with starts for Declan McManus, Brian Graham, Stewart and Tony Dingwall. Teenager Tom Grivosti got his chance at the back while goalkeeper Ross Munro, who was called up to the Scotland under-21 squad last month, continued his role as County’s cup goalkeeper.
Dingwall had the first sniff of goal inside the first minute but was denied by Alex Rodriguez’s challenge, after Peter Morrison parried Stewart’s shot into his path.
The young Motherwell played with intensity and kept County honest, with Broque Watson showing flashes of quality to deceive Marcus Fraser and force a save from Munro on 26 minutes.
Graham, who won the League Cup with the Staggies two years ago, should have opened the scoring just after the half-hour with a near-post header from Don Cowie’s corner. However, his powerful attempt sailed wide.
The visitors were given a let off six minutes before the break when Hastie nipped past Cowie and centred for James Scott, however there was too much pace on the cross for him to connect.
They were given a further reprieve on the stroke of half-time when Hastie’s corner into the six-yard box was met by Mbulu, with the centre-half directed his header back across goal against the post.
County took the lead six minutes into the second half when Stewart was left unmarked to head in, after Draper nodded Cowie’s corner back across goal.
That began an eventful five minutes as Draper fouled Hastie on the edge of the box, picking up a yellow card, and Livingstone delivering a superb free-kick that went in off the crossbar.
Defender Mbulu was then sent off by referee David Munro, for what appeared to be an altercation with Cowie in the aftermath of the goal.
Stewart was then on hand to double his tally on 56 minutes, glancing a Cowie corner in at the near post.
Morrison produced a sparkling save to keep out a fierce attempt from McManus as County sought to put the game to bed, however the Staggies were able to hold on to progress.