HOLDERS Ross County crashed out of the SFL Challenge Cup on Wednesday night at Victoria Park. Their first division opponents, St Johnstone, made the best of lacklustre defending to return down the A9 with a 2-0 win and a place in the quarter-finals. Home boss Dick Campbell didn't hesitate however to have a real go in the final 20 minutes, as he took off a defender and midfielder for two extra attackers. Paul Lawson, lured north from Celtic for a year, made his debut for the Staggies and showed enough to suggest he'll be a big player for the club as they aim to shoot back to Irn Bru Division One. County took the game to the Perth Saints from the off, and Andy Barrowman twice came close in and around the penalty box. Owen Coyle's men though grabbed a gift for an opener on 14 minutes. Andy Dowie was caught napping just outside his six-yard box and former Gretna hitman 'Dr' Kenny Deuchar pounced to score. Lawson came close with two attempts from long-range, but it was 1-0 to St Johnstone at the break. The task of staying in the competition which County won on penalties last year was made doubly difficult however just four minutes after the restart when Gary Irvine's swerving delivery was met by a stooping Andy Jackson header to seal the win. With Scotland v Lithuania dominating football fans' minds this Saturday, County have a weekend off before their next match - a trip to face Division Two pace-setters, Raith Rovers, on September 15. County: Curtis, McCulloch, Golabek (Iain Anderson 77), Dowie, Keddie, Lawson, Scott (Higgins 70), Adams, Barrowman, Petrie (Shields 77), Brady. Subs not used: Bell (GK), Moore. St Johnstone: Cuthbert, Irvine, Dyer, Anderson, McManus, McInnes, Weatherson, McClusky, Deuchar, Jackson, Sheerin. Subs not used: Main (GK), MacDonald, Daal, Lawrie, Stewart. *See next week's North Star for all the latest news and views from Victoria Park, plus a preview to the Kirkcaldy crunch game, which could put County just one point off top spot. Out on Thursday, Sep 13.
Lacklustre County out of Challenge Cup
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