And so yet another Scottish Cup campaign ends prematurely. It's now twelve seasons since we made it through to the Fourth Round and we've made precious few Third Round ties in the seasons in between!
To be honest this was a poor performance and we never really threatened to extend our stay in this season's tournament. Back for this game came the 3-5-2 formation and, with it, three personnel changes. Jon Sunderland and Graham Connell came in as direct replacements for Gordon Connelly and Stuart Davidson, who had to be content with places on the bench. Jon Crawford made his return from injury and Joe McAlpine dropped out, Paddy Atkinson performing the left wing back role.
However, it was the home team who started sharper and they should have taken the lead after just two minutes when the two Gareth's combined. Evans' cross was met at the near post by Hutchison's shot but, with Scott beaten, the effort went narrowly wide. This only served to encourage the Wasps though and the all important winning goal arrived three minutes later courtesy of Gareth Evans who finished in some style low to the left post after being played in by an excellent crossfield pass.
Queens started to come into the match a little though and, in eight minutes, Martin Glancy managed to get in our first shot at goal from outside the box on the left. It's touch and go whether or not it was on target but it was an easy save for young Evans in the Alloa goal. Two minutes later, from a Glancy lay back, John O'Neill fizzed a drive over the bar. After 22 minutes came Queens best chance of the first half. A quickly taken free kick saw Peter Weatherson take possession on the right side of the penalty box. Peter tricked and turned inside his marker but, with the target opening up for him, he pulled his shot badly wide of goal. Four minutes later, after Weatherson had again broken forcefully into the box, O'Neill had a shot from the edge of the box which Glancy stabbed a foot at in an effort to deflect it in. It seemed to be deflected over the top by a defender but the referee, who was woeful all day, somehow contrived to award a goal kick. A minute after that, Weatherson, who was giving the Alloa defence a hard time, again got in a shot which was easily saved by Evans. In the 32nd minute, John O'Neill burst into the box on the end of a fine move but went down under a strong challenge. Despite forceful appeals from the players only a corner was given and nothing came of it.
In the final minute of the half, Derek Allan seemed to be fouled just inside his own half but, with nothing given, he was forced to trip his opponent to stop him getting away with only Crawford to beat. This saw Allan pick up the first booking of the game and, from the resulting free kick, Alloa got in a shot which Colin Scott had to move sharply to save.
If the above suggests that Queens had Alloa under the cosh for most of the half then it gives a false impression. Despite the chance count, it had been a poor half of football and Alloa, typically of a Terry Christie side, had really defended their lead pretty comfortably. The second half saw much the same fare. In fact John Connolly had made his first change, bringing on McAlpine for Atkinson after 65 minutes, before any other chance of note occurred. This came following a free kick from the hosts when a strike from the edge of the penalty area seemed net bound with Scott helpless but narrowly missed the left post.
In 72 minutes, Connolly made a second change, bringing on young Graeme Armstrong in place of Martin Glancy. Four minutes later, a great ball fed John O'Neill bursting into the box. However, the prolific midfielder took the shot first time and failed to place the ball beyond the reach of Evans. Two minutes later, Jon Sunderland became the second Queens player booked, for dissent after having a free kick awarded against him.
As the final whistle approached, Queens pushed forward more looking to earn a replay at Palmerston. With five minutes remaining, a Weatherson drive looked to be goalbound but was blocked by a desperate defensive challenge. However, Alloa so nearly clinched the tie in the last minute when a breakaway left substitute Richard Walker in on goal. His early strike was partially blocked by Scott but went through the keeper's legs and continued on towards the net. Fortunately Scott was able to scramble back up and drop on the ball just before it crossed the line.
As the game entered injury time Queens final chance came with a free kick played high into the box but Derek Allan's header went wide and the game was gone.
Thanks to David Gow for the action shots