The Betfred Cup group stages came to a close over the weekend with the sixteen sides into the next round confirmed. Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock enter the tournament at this stage due to their European exertions and are joined in the last-16 by the eight group winners and four best runners up.
Hearts topped Group A despite being held to a 1-1 draw by East Fife at New Bayview before losing the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
The Jambos took the lead on fifteen minutes when Jamie Walker fired past Brett Long after good work by Craig Halkett created the chance. East Fife though were full of confidence after their shock 2-0 win at Tannadice in midweek and equalised early in the second half with Chris Duggan sending his shot high past Zdenek Zlamal into the net.
In the shoot-out, Aaron Hickey saw his effort saved by Long with Aaron Dunsmore finding the net with his kick to earn the Fifers the bonus point and secure second spot in the group and a nervous wait to see if they would make it through.
Elsewhere in the group, Stenhousemuir were 2-0 winners over Cowdenbeath at Ochilview with Mark McGuigan and a Jamie Todd own goal ensuring the Warriors wouldn’t finish bottom of the table.
East Fife 1-1 Hearts (7-6 penalties) Stenhousemuir 2-0 Cowdenbeath
Forfar Athletic made it into the last-16 as one of the best runners up with an impressive 2-1 win over Premiership St Johnstone.
Callum Tapping gave them the lead inside the opening two minutes when he bundled Ross Forbes’ cross over the line at the back post. It was Forbes who got the hosts’ second on 53 minutes with a stunning free-kick.
The Perth Saints halved the deficit soon after as Matty Kennedy nodded into an empty net but it wasn’t enough as they slipped out of the competition.
Montrose earned a bonus point by beating Brechin City on penalties following a 1-1 draw at Glebe Park.
They took the lead in the second half when Ross Campbell found the bottom corner but Scott Reekie levelled for Brechin, forcing the shootout which the Gable Endies won 4-2.
Brechin City 1-1 Montrose (2-4 penalties) Forfar Athletic 2-1 St Johnstone
Hibs rounded off their group campaign on Friday night with a comfortable 2-0 win away at Elgin City.
Joe Newell took away any nerves with the opener on ten minutes before Florian Kamberi’s strike just past the hour mark ensured the Easter Road side finished top.
On Saturday, Alloa came from a goal down to beat Championship rivals Arbroath 3-2 at Gayfield.
Bobby Linn put the hosts ahead but Liam Buchanan levelled things up straight from the kick-off to make it 1-1 at half time. An Alan Trouten double either side of Jason Thomson’s equaliser saw the Wasps pick up the three points as both sides exited the tournament.
Elgin City 0-2 Hibs Arbroath 2-3 Alloa Athletic
Dundee pipped Inverness to the top spot with Danny Johnson’s goal enough to see the hosts through on Sunday, meaning Caley were knocked out and East Fife earned the final spot in the next round.
In the group’s other game, Cove Rangers defeated Raith Rovers 3-0 with Jamie Masson, Chris Antoniazzi and Declan Glass scoring for the SPFL new boys.
Dundee 1-0 Inverness CT Cove Rangers 3-0 Raith Rovers
Motherwell thrashed Annan Athletic 4-0 at Fir Park to make it into the last-16 with a 100% record.
Liam Donnelly capitalised on a defensive mix-up to fire the ball into the roof of the net to give the Well the lead on 20 minutes with Liam Polworth doubling the lead on the stroke of half time.
Donnelly scored again in the second half before James Scott added number four with a clever curling finish in stoppage time.
Morton joins the Steelmen in the next round following their penalty shoot-out victory over Queen of the South at Cappielow.
Goals from John Sutton, Nicky Cadden and Bob McHugh put the home side 3-1 up after Lee Kilday’s early opener but Jim McAlister’s own goal and an equaliser from Callum Semple forced a shoot-out.
The comeback was in vain though as Morton took the bonus point 4-3.
Morton 3-3 Queen of the South (4-3 penalties) Motherwell 4-0 Annan Athletic
Hamilton had to come from behind to beat Airdrieonians 3-2 and seal their place in the knockout stages on Saturday afternoon.
Callum Smith and Ally Roy put the Diamonds two goals to the good at the break but Ross Cunningham’s penalty double and Marios Ogboe’s last-minute winner completed the comeback to send Accies through behind Partick Thistle.
Queen’s Park won their second group stage penalty shoot-out, this time against Clyde, following their 1-1 draw on Sunday.
Darren Smith gave Clyde the lead but Craig Howie’s own goal earned Queen’s a point before they picked up the bonus point too.
Airdrieonians 2-3 Hamilton Accies Queen’s Park 1-1 Clyde (5-4 penalties)
Livingston were comfortable winners against Berwick as they remained unbeaten in the group to progress to the knockout rounds.
Doubles from Rickie Lamie and Craig Sibbald were added to by Alan Lithgow’s goal as they dispatched of their Lowland League visitors 5-0.
Elsewhere, Stranraer struck late to draw with Ayr United before defeating their neighbours in the shoot-out.
Michael Moffat put the Honest Men ahead early on but Adam Cummins scored the first of his double to bring Stranraer level.
Stephen Kelly then fired in a wonderful free-kick to put the hosts back in front but Cummins struck again with four minutes to go and force the game to penalties.
Ayr United 2-2 Stranraer (5-6 penalties) Livingston 5-0 Berwick Rangers
Albion Rovers continued their impressive form with a 2-1 win over Edinburgh City in Coatbridge.
Euan East and Nicki Paterson put them in control and despite Blair Henderson’s penalty for City, Rovers held out for the win but ultimately it wasn’t enough to see them progress.
The group’s other game saw Dunfermline hammer East Kilbride 4-0 as they topped the group. Kevin Nisbet (x2), Josh Coley and Tom Beadling got the goals.
Albion Rovers 2-1 Edinburgh City Dunfermline Athletic 4-0 East Kilbride
The draw for the last-16 was made following Dundee’s win over Inverness at Dens Park on Sunday afternoon with the Dee arguably in the tie of the round where they will host Aberdeen. Holders Celtic were drawn at home to Dunfermline while East Fife were rewarded for their shock progression, with a home tie against Rangers.
Draw in full
Hibs vs Morton Partick Thistle vs Ross County Motherwell vs Hearts Dundee vs Aberdeen Celtic vs Dunfermline Athletic Forfar Athletic vs Livingston Kilmarnock vs Hamilton Accies East Fife vs Rangers