Well, we've managed to play Alloa three times this season without losing yet to our traditional bogey team, two of them away from home. And in the context of the league table this wasn't a bad point at all keeping us four wins clear of the home side and also of Arbroath, who were hammered at home by Falkirk. However, having taken the lead three times it was disappointing not to win the game. Alloa fans will I'm sure though wonder how they didn't win the game too. It was that kind of game.
There were a number of changes to the Queens side which faced Ayr nearly three weeks ago at Palmerston. As expected Colin Scott replaced flu victim Andy Goram in goal whilst new face Steven Renicks started at right back in a 4-4-2 set up. John O'Neill partnered Peter Weatherson up front with Lyle still out and O'Connor only fit enough to sit on the bench. Also returning to the bench after long absences were Derek Allan and Jamie Campbell.
Queens almost fell behind in the very first minute. Ryan Davidson, making his debut for the home side on loan from Hearts, struck a powerful shot from outside the box which Scott had to look smart to parry out. It seemed as though Alloa would be first to the loose ball but Derek Anderson managed to slide the ball out for a corner just ahead of a striker. Right sided corners would give us problems for the whole day and, whilst this one was comfortably enough dealt with, another in the third minute saw the unmarked Gareth Hutchison head the ball against the crossbar and the ball was smuggled clear.
However, completely against the early run of play, Queens took the lead in the 8th minute. Brian McColligan won possession but gave the ball straight to Richard Walker. Fortunately the winger who has been on trial at Kilmarnock recently gave it straight back to McColligan and he strode forward before passing the ball out wide left to Brian McLaughlin. Wee Brian put in a tremendous cross to the six yard box where John O'Neill was perfectly positioned to bullet a header into the top left corner with Hogarth in the home goal stranded. The lead was short lived though and Alloa were level just 3 minutes later. As a free kick was flighted into the Queens penalty box Mr Dallas spotted a pull back on Davidson by either Anderson or Thomson and awarded a penalty kick. Andy Seaton stepped up from his left back role to hammer the ball into the right side of goal, sending Scott the wrong way.
Alloa began to reassert their early dominance and in 13 minutes Scott did well to smother a drive by Ross Hamilton who had broken forward after seizing on a mistake by former team-mate Derek Anderson. However, on 19 minutes Queens should have done better when they broke forward four against three after a home attack broke down. It ended with Bowey shooting from the edge of the box and forcing a decent save out of Hogarth when a pass to Weatherson might have been the better option. Again against the run of play a little though Queens re-took the lead in 22 minutes. This time the architect was Andy Aitken who exchanged passes with Brian McLaughlin wide left before beating a defender and firing a cross into the penalty area. John O'Neill produced a piece of sublime control on his chest before laying the ball off perfectly for the in-rushing Peter Weatherson to fire the ball first time into the bottom left corner of the goal beyond Hogarth's despairing dive.
Just before the half hour mark a dangerous cross from the right side caused chaos in the Queens penalty area as Jim Thomson drove a clearance against Derek Anderson before it was scrambled clear. In the meantime Colin Scott collided with Gareth Hutchison and required treatment before he was able to continue. Queens nearly doubled the lead in the 40th minute when John O'Neill was narrowly beaten to a long clearance by Hogarth outside his box only for the keeper to hit O'Neill with the clearance. Fortunately, with Hogarth out of the equation, the ball dropped close to the only defender in the area and he hooked clear before John could capitalise on the situation. However, instead it was Alloa who scored again and from exactly the same source. This time Ross Hamilton ran at Andy Aitken in the box and forced the defender into a rash challenge. Mr Dallas again had no doubts in pointing to the spot and again there was no real protest about the award from the Queens players. This time Andy Seaton struck the ball low into the bottom right corner of goal with Scott standing still looking for the one down the middle. Before the half could finish both Jim Thomson and Max Christie managed to get themselves booked, JT for a tackle from behind on halfway and Christie for a pull back on Bowey in the same are of the park as he tried to break forward.
The second half was only five minutes old when Queens were fortunate again from a right sided corner. On this occasion the ball was missed by everyone and seemed to be heading straight into goal until Eric Paton popped up to head it off the line at the back post. Two minutes later "The Wasps" came even closer to taking the lead when yet another right sided corner was headed against the underside of the crossbar from almost point blank range before being hooked off the line again by Jim Thomson. However, straight up the other end Bowey and Weatherson combined to set up O'Neill for a strike which shaved the left post as it narrowly missed the target from the edge of the box. Queens were coming more into the game now and on 57 minutes Paton curled a free kick narrowly over the bar from about 20 yards. Five minutes later there was controversy as Hugh Dallas spotted a foul on O'Neill and awarded a free kick to Queens inches outside the penalty area. It wasn't too clear where he saw a foul at all to be honest but, given that he gave one, O'Neill did appear to most to have been inside the box at the time. However, no amount of appealling changed the decision and, from the resultant free kick, Andy Aitken's powerful drive was spilled and Jim Thomson narrowly failed to turn the rebound into goal. The ball was never properly cleared though and Queens came again down the right side. Eric Paton put in a driven cross which was not dealt with by the defence and Peter Weatherson reacted brilliantly to hammer the ball past Hogarth from just inside the penalty area.
In 64 minutes Hogarth kept his team in the game when he made a magnificent diving save from Paton's low drive and then did even better to get up and fist the loose ball away from the incoming John O'Neill. In the 70th minute again it was Paton running at the defence and causing panic before his shot was deflected past the right post. Three minutes later Valentine joined Christie in the book for pulling Weatherson back on halfway. However, two minutes later the home side produced their third equaliser of the game. Yet again it was a right sided corner which caused the problems. This time the ball was met perfectly by the head of Steve Thomson who bulletted the ball past Scott from six yards out.
In the 77th minute Alloa almost scored again when a right sided free kick ricocheted about the penalty box before being turned narrowly wide of the left post. Three minutes later Brian McColligan picked up the booking he'd been trying to get all game after pulling back his opponent. Queens made a couple of final thrusts to win the game though. In 86 minutes a three against three break forward saw Weatherson set up O'Neill to curl a shot narrowly over the top from 20 yards and a minute later Paton struck a glorious effort for the top left corner from which Hogarth produced a phenomenal save to tip the ball over the top. To general disbelief around the ground Mr Dallas managed to award a goal kick initially but was corrected by his assistant. The corner came to naught though and with no further action of note the teams had to settle for a draw.
It's certainly a point which does us far more good than Alloa, who need to start winning games not drawing them. It was frustrating not to win having led the game three times but, to be fair, Alloa contributed well to the game too and probably had more possession over the piece than we did. At least we got a game and a bit of match practice before next week's big cup tie.