Championship Playoff final, first leg
ALLOA will have to come from behind if they are to win promotion back to the Championship after they lost out in the first leg of the playoff final to Brechin City.
Elliot Ford’s second-half strike was enough to separate the sides in a game which was in many ways reminiscent of the Wasps’ semi-final clash with Airdrie.
Jim Goodwin made one change to the side which triumphed over the Diamonds on penalties, with Steven Hetherington replacing top scorer Greig Spence, who dropped to the bench.
Following a very nervy start from both sides, perhaps understandably given the magnitude of the tie, Finn Graham tested Neil Parry with a snapshot which the big keeper did well to hold onto.
Andy Jackson almost found a route through after latching onto a long clearance but Andy Graham recovered to snuff out the attack.
That came seconds before Parry produced a wonderful save, somehow clawing Ross Caldwell’s well-struck effort away when it looked destined for the top corner.
Chances were at a premium for Alloa, their first opportunity falling to Jon Robertson in a similar positon to where he scored his semi-final screamer against Airdrie from, but he couldn’t reproduce his heroics and the ball sailed over the bar.
The visitors did start to find a foothold in the game and Jordan Kirkpatrick fizzed an effort just wide of Graeme Smith’s post.
The second half began much as the first had, Jackson curling a shot safely into the gloves of Parry as the hosts looked to get their noses in front.
Kevin Cawley should have opened the scoring when Calum Waters found him unmarked at the back post, but the midfielder could only play the ball off the legs of Willie Dyer.
But the deadlock would be broken just moments later, and just like in the first leg of their semi-final, it was Alloa who fell behind.
Finn Graham did well to get into the box down the left and square for Elliot Ford, who sidefooted the ball into the corner via a deflection.
Brechin were enjoying all the pressure and Liam Watt tested Parry again with a stinging drive from distance.
Alloa had a strong penalty appeal waved away when Iain Flannigan was hauled down in the box, the referee dismissing the protests of the Alloa players.
The home side were unlucky not to extend their advantage again when captain Paul McLean’s header crashed off the bar, while at the other end Smith had to be alert to keep out Andy Graham’s looping header.
Dylan Mackin failed to trouble Smith with a header which bounced tamely into the keeper’s arms, the final chance of what was a disappointing evening for the Wasps, and one which leaves them with an uphill task to seal their place in the second tier for next season.
ALLOA: Parry, Taggart, Waters, McKeown, Graham, Robertson, Cawley (McCluskey), Hetherington (Spence), Mackin, Kirkpatrick, Flannigan (Martin). UNUSED SUBS: Marr, Longworth, Hoggan, McDowall.