Cove Rangers boss Paul Hartley felt their lack of bodies told as they scraped past Stenhousemuir on penalties in the SPFL Trust Trophy.
Cove needed penalties to see off the SPFL’s bottom side at the Balmoral Stadium, with the game finishing 0-0 after 90 minutes.
Hartley only had one fit outfield player on the bench – Robbie Leitch – with both Harry Milne and Ryan Strachan named as substitutes having been ill during the week.
Ross Draper is working his way back from bone bruising while Jevan Anderson looks set for a spell on the sidelines after coming off injured against Clyde. Fraser Fyvie and Shay Logan were also back involved but Iain Vigurs was not available due to illness.
Hartley said: “We’re through to the next round but we know we can play better. We weren’t our usual selves. We weren’t fluent in our play and we’ve got to improve that.
“We showed little signs of it but we didn’t do enough. It is difficult – we’re trying to juggle our team and we only really had one sub we could make, which was Leitchy.
“It’s disrupted the squad to try and pick the best team. You’re waiting all the time to get your best team on the pitch.
“I don’t know if the team picks itself. You’re waiting day-by-day to see what players are available.”
Goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie was recalled to the Cove side on Saturday in place of Kyle Gourlay.
McKenzie kept a clean sheet and saved a penalty from Ross Lyon to earn a home tie against Albion Rovers in the third round next month.
Hartley added: “I didn’t think he had a lot to do in the game, he didn’t have a lot of saves to make. But we kept a clean sheet which was the important thing and in the penalty shootout, our players were clinical.
“It’s at home (against Albion Rovers) and that’s the most important thing. We’ll have to make sure we’re a lot better.”