Forfar Athletic exited the Irn Bru Cup at the first hurdle following a 2-1 defeat to Ross County’s U20 side in Dingwall.
Goals from Billy McKay and Ross Maciver in the first half had the Staggies ahead and despite Mark Millar’s late free kick, the Loons couldn’t pull it back.
Forfar came into this after a 3-0 defeat at Ayr United while the young Staggies, including experienced striker Billy McKay, were not to be taken lightly after their SPFL Development League win last season.
The Loons made three changes from their weekend defeat with Andy Munro, Ousman See and debutant Patrick Cregg replacing Jim Lister, Michael Travis and the injured Simon Mensing.
Dylan Easton had the first opportunity in the fifth minute when David Cox’s cross was headed down by Marc Scott but the midfielder’s shot was blocked and eventually cleared.
County were unlucky not to go ahead two minutes later; James Wallace did well to get a shot away off balance however his effort crashed off the post with McCallum beaten.
Easton curled over shortly after but it was the hosts who took the lead after 24 minutes. Russell Dingwall teed up Billy McKay and he expertly lobbed McCallum. It was 2-0 within three minutes as Ross Maciver slotted home from inside the box.
Greg Morrison saw his shot turned over the bar by McCallum before McKay was also denied as the Staggies looked to add to their tally.
Forfar were unlucky not to pull one back on the stroke of half time; Patrick Cregg setting up Easton however his long range effort flew just over the bar.
Andy Munro nodded over from a Millar corner a minute into the second half before McKay saw a header held by McCallum at the other end.
Millar fired over in the 49th minute and from the goal kick, County were instantly on the attack with Morrison having his shot tipped wide.
Another Millar corner created a stramash that ended with Munro’s powerful strike blocked by Morrison as the game approached the hour mark.
In the 63rd minute a Conor Quigley throw was flicked on by Ousman See; allowing Michael Travis to connect with a volley that Ross Munro smothered.
Two minutes later Morrison weaved his way past two defenders but couldn’t net County’s third as his shot rattled the bar.
A long ball by Aitken up to Jim Lister was just inches too heavy by the youngster as the County keeper nipped it away before Lister could get a shot away.
Wallace thought he had scored with eight minutes left when he slipped the ball under McCallum but Munro did well to clear the ball off the line.
Forfar did pull a goal back in the 87th minute to give themselves some hope with a Millar free kick. See and Munro had efforts off target in injury time but the Staggies held on to go through to the next round.
Ross County U20: Ross Munro, Tom Kelly, Kyle Johnson, Sam Morrison, Tom Grivosti, Max Ashmore, Greg Morrison, Russell Dingwall, Billy McKay (Nathan Turner 66), James Wallace, Ross Maciver
Subs not used: Ben Johnston, Mark Gallagher, Jack Murray, Jack Grant, Joel MacBeath, Lee Herbert (gk)
Forfar Athletic: Marc McCallum, Jamie Bain, Conor Quigley, Patrick Cregg, Andy Munro, Eddie Malone, David Cox (Jim Lister 46), Mark Millar, Ousman See, Dylan Easton (Michael Travis 53), Marc Scott (Matthew Aitken 40)
Subs not used: Greg Warwick, Scott McBride, Michael Kennedy, Jason King (gk)