Alloa Athletic.................5

Scottish League One

A TEN-MINUTE first-half blitz helped Alloa to a stunning victory over playoff rivals Arbroath at the Indodrill Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Garry Fleming got the scoring underway with an early penalty, before Ross Stewart netted twice in the next ten minutes.

Michael McKenna reduced the arrears shortly before the break, but Stewart hit back immediately to complete his hat-trick.

Bobby Linn reduced the arrears once more in the second half, but Iain Flannigan added a fifth for Alloa as they ran riot in the Wee County.

Danny Denholm’s late header was of little consolation to the visitors, who let a three-point advantage slip in the race for third place.

The result was made all the more impressive given that the visitors were unbeaten in their previous nine League One fixtures.

Wasps Manager Jim Goodwin made several changes to the side which lost out to Stranraer ten days previously, with Fleming and Stewart both coming in.

Kevin Cawley also returned to the starting lineup to make his 250th appearance for the Wasps.

Former Alloa stars Omar Kader and Colin Hamilton started for the Lichties, while Ryan McCord was on the bench for the visitors.

The Wasps were literally handed the perfect opportunity to break the deadlock just six minutes in. Steven Hetherington’s corner was inexplicably handled by McIntosh, and Fleming stepped up to confidently tuck the penalty away for his maiden Alloa strike.

Arbroath almost had a leveller immediately afterwards when Linn’s long-range effort sailed over the bar.

Cawley almost marked his special night with a wonderful strike which was only matched by the save from Lichties keeper David Hutton.

But from the resulting corner Alloa did have their second goal. The ball was recycled by Scott Taggart, whose pinpoint cross was met by Stewart.

The St Mirren loanee rose highest to power a header beyond the helpless Hutton and double his side’s lead before ten minutes had been played.

McIntosh almost made amends for his earlier error with a header which Neil Parry did well to hold, but the visitors simply could not cope with Alloa’s sumptuous attacking play, and they added a third inside a quarter of an hour.

The Arbroath defence were all over the place, and a moment of hesitation at the back allowed Stewart to knock home his second from close range to cap a remarkable opening period.

The Wasps continued to throw everything at the visitors and Jordan Kirkpatrick drew another save from Hutton, who despite the scoreline had looked impressive between the sticks.

Most of Arbroath’s good play was coming from crosses into the box, and both McIntosh and Gavin Swankie had headers stopped by Parry.

PJ Crossan looked impressive down the left flank and his driving run and cross almost led to a fourth, but Hutton shovelled Taggart’s diving header off the line.

The visitors continued to look dangerous in patches, and Linn drew an excellent save from Parry, forcing the keeper to tip his stinging drive round the post.

But Alloa were on top, and continued to enjoy the lion’s share of both the possession and the chances.

Taggart was enjoying a fine game out on the right, and his pinpoint cross almost let Kirkpatrick in again, but the midfielder’s volley was kept out by Hutton.

Arbroath did manage to get one back before the break as McKenna diverted a glancing header beyond Parry from close range.

But moments later, the Wasps’ three-goal lead was back intact as Stewart claimed his hat-trick. The striker capitalised on a poor header back to Hutton and knocked it beyond the helpless stopper.

The visitors were given another glimmer of hope ten minutes into the second half thanks to an error from Parry. Linn’s strike from the edge of the box didn’t look like it would pose any problems for the keeper, but he let it slip through his grasp and the lead was reduced once more.

It was an enthralling encounter which continued to provide action at both ends, and Taggart was so close to adding the goal his performance deserved with a looping header which went just wide.

Hutton continued to impress and made a stunning save to deny Kirkpatrick, who had endured a frustrating evening in front of goal despite a decent performance.

The keeper was in action again, pulling off a remarkable stop to deny Stewart his fourth goal of the match.

Cawley might not have been able to get on the scoresheet on his landmark appearance but he was still highly influential, and was in the thick of the action as Alloa notched their fifth of the evening. His knock-down teed up Flannigan, who drilled his first-time shot into the back of the net.

Denholm headed home from close range with three minutes to play but by that stage it was far too late for the Lichties to mount any sort of comeback.

Victory meant Alloa moved level with their opponents in the League One table, and now only trail on goal difference as the season enters its final stages.

ALLOA: Parry, Taggart, Crane, Graham, McCart, Fleming (Robertson), Cawley, Hetherington, Stewart (Renton), Kirkpatrick, Crossan (Flannigan). UNUSED SUBS: McKeown, Goodwin, Wilson.