Hat-trick star Brian Graham makes 10-man Cove suffer as Ross County hit seven
Brian Graham plundered a hat-trick as holders Ross County ended their disappointing Betfred Cup campaign with a 7-0 win over Highland League champions Cove Rangers.
Knowing they were condemned to a group-stage exit before kick-off, County finished on a high against opponents who played a part in their own downfall.
Alex Schalk scored the only goal of the first half at Global Energy Stadium, and he was also the victim of the reckless tackle that saw Cove reduced to 10 men when Mitch Megginson was shown a straight red card.
Schalk's breakthrough strike in the Group D clash came in the 24th minute when Kenny van der Weg swung a ball in from the left and the former Go Ahead Eagles forward fired high into the net.
Megginson was not far away a couple of minutes later with a flashing shot which flew just wide of the far post, but he was soon off the pitch.
Cove's hopes of staying in the game were dashed 10 minutes from the break when Megginson was sent off by referee Mat Northcroft.
The home side put the tie out of sight with two goals in the first four minutes of the second half. Graham doubled the lead in the 47th minute with an angled drive from the edge of the six-yard box, and a couple of minutes later Schalk scored from a yard out after a Christopher Routis header was parried.
Graham added a fourth goal in the 56th minute when he headed home a pinpoint cross from Van der Weg.
The goals kept coming and Craig Curran quickly made his mark after coming off the bench when he lobbed the ball home in the 65th minute after Routis threaded the ball through to him.
Curran was on target again eight minutes from the end when he was left with a tap-in after Boyce set him up.
Graham completed his hat-trick in the last minute when he nodded an Ian McShane chip in off the inside of the post.