Ross County goalie Jake Eastwood says finding winning habits in the Premier Sports Cup bodes well for the start of the Premiership season.
The Staggies defeated Alloa Athletic 2-0 at Recreation Park on Tuesday, to move within one win of qualifying from the group stage of the competition.
A victory against East Fife on Saturday will ensure Malky Mackay’s men reach the last-16.
Goalkeeper Eastwood, a summer signing on loan from Sheffield United, feels the cup offers key preparation for the league opener away to Hearts a week on Saturday, while also keeping alive the dream of booking a trip to Hampden Park.
Eastwood said: “Picking up three points and clean sheets is so important. We want to do that in every game, whether it be these League Cup games or the season.
“To be fair to Alloa, they were a good test, especially in the second half when they put us under some pressure.
“The boys at the back dealt with it well.
“It’s a cup the manager wants us to do well in. It’s a chance for us to get to Hampden.
“We have got to win these games. It’s sort of like a pre-season, we are looking at the Hearts game, but we want to win these.”
Goalkeeper happy to contribute with penalty save
Eastwood enjoyed a debut to remember, saving a penalty against Alloa striker Connor Sammon at a point when the Staggies led 1-0.
The 25-year-old was happy to play his part in the victory, adding: “I would rather not have to do that, but if I’ve got to do it, I’ve got to do it.
“It was just a case of saving it – there was not much else to it.
“We needed to limit their opportunities, and having a penalty is obviously a very big opportunity which would have given them a bit of momentum for 10 minutes or so until half-time.
“We dealt with it very well at the end of the first half, and the end of the second half when they were trying to push for an equaliser.
“The defending was great around the box, the two centre-backs did well clearing their lines.
“I’m happy we’ve got a clean sheet and three points. It’s another game for us to build on looking to the start of the season.”
‘Top drawer’ welcome at Staggies
Eastwood is eagerly anticipating the start of the new season with his new club, insisting his settling in process has been a smooth one.
The Englishman added: “I hope to play as many games as I can, and have a successful season here.
“Off the back of what the club achieved last season, I hope that carries on and I want to play a part in it.
“It has been good. I went out to Italy and now I’ve been getting settled up here.
“It has been completely fine, the lads are great. They have welcomed me to the group, the staff and everyone have been top drawer.”