St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright admits there is no margin for error if St Johnstone are to keep their Betfred Cup hopes alive.
The Perth boss isn’t accustomed to being on the receiving end of a cup shock.
And Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to third-tier Montrose ensures tomorrow’s home clash with a free-scoring Ross County side is firmly in the “must win” category.
“The team we put out against Montrose should have been good enough and we should have had a penalty,” said Wright.
“But these things can happen in cup games. It is the first defeat in the group stages in our third year.
“It’s alright saying we have done well before in cup competitions. But you have to live in the present.
“We have to be better and show more belief in the final third, and make things happen.
“We’ve put ourselves in a difficult position with a performance that wasn’t good enough to win the game.
“We were beaten by a wonder strike but there were things we should have done much better. We didn’t threaten their goal until late on.
“It is simple now. We have to win against Ross County and I mean take all three points, not settle for a draw and a win on penalties.
“Hopefully that will put us back in a position where we can progress from the group, although there are no guarantees.
“But ultimately if we don’t win on Sunday it is curtains for us in this competition.
“It is a tough task but we are more than capable of turning this around.
“I am certainly looking for a response from my players and I didn’t think I would be saying that at this stage of the season. But that is the reality we face.”
Wright hopes to have injury victims Zander Clark, Steven Anderson, Liam Craig and potentially David Wotherspoon and Chris Kane available for his squad.
Winger Michael O’Halloran has aggravated a foot injury but should make tomorrow’s game but striker Callum Hendry has missed training with a back injury and is in the doubtful category.
Craig, meanwhile, admits he did not see the Montrose setback coming.
The long-serving midfielder had taken pride in the Perth club’s ability to avoid banana skins.
So the 1-0 Links Park loss wasn’t how he had anticipated the group stage starting.
“It might just be the kick up the backside that we needed,” said Craig.
“It’s a reminder we have to be right at it physically and mentally or you get found out.
“In my whole time at the club over 10 seasons whenever we have played lower league opposition we have always found a way to win these games.
“It might not have been pretty at times but we got the job done.
“It’s something I was proud of and a record the club would have been proud of.
“You see cup upsets all the time but we have never been associated with them.
“The good thing here is that we aren’t out of the cup and we could still advance if we win our next three games.
“The County game is at McDiarmid and we have to lay down a marker that it is going to be a hard place for teams to come.
“There’s no getting away from the fact it was a massive disappointment at Montrose and we have to put it right.”