They can’t say they weren’t warned. 783 hardy souls took in a late January match between hosts who haven’t scored a league goal from open play since November and visitors with 15 from their last 22.

To say Hamilton and Ross County couldn’t hit a cow’s rear end with a banjo would be to suggest they’d even be capable of locating the necessary instrument in the first place, and bovine backsides remained resolutely untroubled despite both sides creating plenty of chances. In the end it took penalties to send Hamilton, bottom of the Championship, into the next round.

Accies could boast four academy graduates in their starting XI while just one, Dario Zanatta, of the substitutes did not come through the Hamilton youth ranks.

A hardy band of 205 County fans were among the crowd, the home support diminished amid an ongoing protest in support of fans banned for alleged social media abuse, and manager Malky Mackay offered a pre-match salute and fist pump for those who trekked down from Dingwall.

They were almost treated to an opener inside the first 10 minutes, the roving presence of Yann Dhanda popping up on the right wing and finding Jordy Hiwula with a low cross, but the Englishman couldn’t convert from close range.

Accies, rooted to the bottom of the Championship, caused problems of their own early on though, Andy Winter seeing a goal-bound shot blocked before Ross Laidlaw had to be out sharply to deny Jean Pierre Thiehi.

Ross Callachan, a former Hamilton player, was inches from breaking the deadlock in a very lively start that also saw Owura Edwards blaze over from close range.

The Premiership side were beginning to assert their dominance and the Dhanda-Hiwula combination again should have brought the opener as the former Swansea man’s corner was headed over with the goal gaping.

With Thiehi leading the line though the hosts always carried a threat, and Laidlaw was again quick off his line after the striker had bamboozled the Staggies defence with a lovely touch and turn.

Mackay shuffled his pack at half-time, sending on Victor Loturi for Nohan Kenneh. Hiwula’s attempt to win a spot kick shortly after the restart could, if one were being generous, be described as ‘optimistic’ and his collapse drew loud boos from the home fans.

Getting down altogether more gracefully was Ryan Fulton in the Accies goal as he beat away a shot from Callachan, but he had Dylan McGowan to thank for hooking one off the line at a corner minutes later.

Hiwula’s afternoon was over soon after that as Jordan White, for whom Mackay ruled out a move to St Johnstone pre-match, entered the fray. The big striker didn’t do much better with Dhanda’s dangerous deliveries though, heading over from a good position with practically his first touch of the ball.

The roles were reversed as the game ground toward the end of normal time, the County number 10 fluffing his lines after good hold-up play by White before Hamilton sub Andy Ryan drew a decent stop at the other end.

And so to extra time. Substitute William Akio could have won it for County but sclaffed his shot at Fulton. Dario Zanatta hit the woodwork up the other end. The cow had shuffled off some time ago and the banjo remained nowhere to be seen.

Penalties raised the terrifying prospect that no-one would score even from the spot, 800 people watching balls flying high, wide and into the goalkeeper’s arms until the trumpets sounded on the Day of Judgement, but Zanatta stuck one home to at least assuage that fear.

When White, next up, missed you knew where this was going. No-one for County missed but no Accies man did either. After the huffing, the puffing and the scuffing it was finally over.