IT WAS Irn Bru Cup heartbreak for Alloa Athletic as two late goals were enough to down the Wasps at Tannadice.

The home side went in front in the second half after a contentious penalty award but Kevin Cawley levelled with a fine finish. However, the Wasps were beaten as the impressive Patrick N-Koyi set up Paul McMullan before Willo Flood wrapped up proceedings.

Dundee United might have had the lion’s share of possession in the opening period but they showed minimal incision in the final third. Much of the Terrors passing was short and tidy but it allowed Alloa to settle into the tie and organise themselves.

And the first opportunity of the encounter fell to Andy Graham as he met an Iain Flannigan corner but the towering centre half could only direct the effort wide.

The home side responded on eight minutes when Logan Chalmers dinked the ball towards Neil Parry’s goal but he watched it drift harmlessly over the bar.

McMullan might have been expected to test the Wasps goalkeeper more than he did in the 17th minute when he cut in field from the left flank. However, his shot was tame and Parry smothered comfortably.

The chance of the half arrived in the 23rd minute when Alloa fullback Daryll Meggatt drove into the United area and picked out Kevin Cawley in the middle. But with the goal to choose from, the winger drilled his effort inches wide of the left post.

That gave the away side the confidence to assert themselves further as they looked to counter-attack at pace, and Steven Hetherington came close on 39 minutes when he brought the ball down on the edge of the area before firing a shot wide of the right post.

It was Alan Cook’s turn to spurn a good opportunity when he latched on to a long ball on 44 minutes. However, the winger lost his footing and sliced his effort wide.

Alloa would have one final opportunity to upset the home side in the first half when Hetherington was scythed down on the edge of the box. Iain Flannigan took the resulting free-kick but could only curl his strike wide to ensure it was 0-0 at the break.

The second half failed to set the heather alight in terms of entertainment and quality, which seemed to suit the away side as they continued to frustrate Dundee United. Lewis Toshney probably could have made more of a McMullan corner but headed well wide.

The match burst into life on 70 minutes when Graham was adjudged to have fouled N-Koyi inside the box. It was a decision that was harsh on the captain who seemed to have made contact with the ball but the Tangerines’ striker brushed himself down to slot the ball home into the bottom right corner and make it 1-0.

Alloa kept their composure after going down, putting their foot on the ball and continuing to create chances. They were rewarded for their patience in the 78th minute when substitute Adam Martin danced into the box and showed the presence of mind to pick out Cawley, who made no mistake this time around with a neat low finish for the equaliser.

The Wasps were encouraged by the goal and continued to press, coming close when Cook won a free-kick on the left. Flannigan’s curling ball into the area caused United all sorts of problems but Deniz Mehmet reacted to tip the ball over.

And the home side’s fitness shone through in the final stages when the menacing N’Koyi broke forward in the first minute of stoppage and turned inside the box to square for McMullan, who put his side in front with a clean finish.

Dundee United put the game beyond all doubt in the 93rd minute with a fine strike from Willo Flood. Substitute Billy King showed his intelligence to tee up the Irishman and the midfielder made no mistake with a driven finish to make it 3-1 and send the home side into the next round.

Neil Parry, Scott Taggart, Daryll Meggatt, Frank McKeown, Andrew Graham (Adam Martin), Jon Robertson, Kevin Cawley, Steve Hetherington, Chris Renton, Iain Flannigan, Alan Cook. Unused Substitutes: Andrew Wilson, Garry Fleming, Callum Crane, Dylan Monaghan, Mark Greene.