What a disappointing afternoon it was in Alloa today! It really is hard to believe that the same team that has been on such a good run since Christmas was playing today. Queens seemed to be second to every ball and in the end were comprehensively beaten by team much more determined to get the result they needed than we were.
To all intents and purposes, manager John Connolly was able to field his strongest side, with only long term absentees Derek Allan and George O'Boyle as well as Paddy Atkinson unavailable. There was only one change from the team which comprehensively beat Morton on Tuesday night, Derek Anderson returning from suspension to replace Jon Crawford at left back.
Just two minutes had gone when Queens worked the first half chance of the game, Joe McAlpine feeding a good ball into the penalty area which Derek Lyle turned to prod goalward, but it was a comfortable save for Derek Soutar in the Alloa goal. On five minutes, Sean O'Connor picked the ball up in midfield and ran towards the Alloa goal before shooting from the edge of the box but again Soutar saved comfortably. A minute later, good work by O'Neill and O'Connor set up Lyle again but once more the finish had no venom and Soutar coped easily.
However, after this bright start, Alloa began to dominate and it was no great surprise when they took the lead after quarter of an hour. Richard Walker was the man causing all the damage, running up the right he evaded the attention of McAlpine and Anderson before rounding Aitken to reach the goal-line. His low and hard cross was partly intercepted by Colin Scott but the keeper only succeeded in deflecting the ball towards his own goal. The ball may have been going in anyway but Gareth Hutchison appeared to make sure, knocking in from practically on the line.
Queens tried to fight back with Steve Bowey in particular prominent with two efforts of note, one over the top and the other again saved by Soutar. However, just after the half hour mark, it was the "Wasps" who doubled their advantage. It all started when Derek Anderson lost track of his opponent over on the right. The ball was then switched right across the field to the left where Gordon Connelly twice got a foot on the ball but still failed to prevent a cross coming in from the bye-line. Max Christie this time was unchallenged to head the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. A terrible goal to lose from a defensive point of view.
Queens started the second half much brighter and Jim Thomson was narrowly over the bar with a header from an early corner. In the 52nd minute, Queens came as close as they ever had to a goal. O'Connor worked well on the left to get himself into a crossing position and sent a good ball into the box. Derek Lyle met it with a looping header at the near post but Soutar again managed to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
A very poor spell for Queens around the hour mark though effectively ended the match as a contest. First, following a left sided free kick, Andy Seaton blasted narrowly wide from the edge of the box. Within a minute though, Alloa did add a third goal of quality. Again it was Walker doing the damage on the right crossing low for Ross Hamilton to dive full length and head home at the near post. Ninety seconds later it was 4-0 for the home side. Again Walker on the right did all the damage, beating a couple of players before trying to slide a ball through to Gareth Hutchison. Jim Thomson just managed to get a foot in and prevent the striker from an easy goal chance but Hutchison was still able to collect the ball and lay it back for the in-rushing Andy Seaton. This time the full back made no mistake with his drive from the edge of the box, picking out the bottom right hand corner again.
By now the game was effectively over and, in the course of the next five minutes, Joe McAlpine picked up a booking for his second poor challenge of the game and Connell replaced the out of sorts and ineffective John O'Neill. In the 71st minute Queens earned themselves a consolation goal. Gordon Connelly dispossessed Andy Seaton on the halfway line and the defender collapsed to the ground clutching his face. The referee however waved play on and Queens broke quickly up the right side with Alan Gray working his way into the penalty area before sending a drive into the bottom right corner of Soutar's goal to score the goal he's been threatening to get all season.
In the 77th minute, Peter Weatherson replaced Gordon Connelly and Queens shifted to a 4-3-3 formation but it was way too late to have any effect on the game. With three minutes remaining, Derek Lyle really should have scored a second consolation when he latched onto a good ball from Gray to get a free shot from six yards out but Soutar again made a fine block at the expense of a corner.
There is no denying that Alloa were well worth their win, though Colin Scott never made a save in the game. Everything they put on target went in. However, Queens were very poor on the day and got what they deserved. The only saving grace was that the five point lead we had sees us still top despite the set back. Clydebank's failure to win today means they are now out of the equation but Forfar earned a good win at Berwick to maintain their chances of catching us so we are not up yet. With three games to play we still need four more points to be sure though Morton could do us a favour in midweek against the "Loons". As for the championship, well that will surely now go to the wire. Alloa trail only by two points and have much the better goal difference so even two wins and a draw wouldn't be enough for us if they don't slip up. Nothing less than three wins will do if we want to win it all.
Thomson goes close from a corner in the second half
Massive away support behind the home side's goal in the first half