FOR all the praise rightly showered upon Alloa this season, they certainly have a flair for defensive errors that could prove terminal to their season.

Defensive lapses burdened the team once again as Ayr United ran out 3-1 winners at the Indodrill Stadium.

A result that was compounded by rivals Falkirk and Partick Thistle both picking up vital wins to ramp up the pressure on the Wasp ahead of a critical fortnight.

Alan Trouten's 16th goal of the season – a typically composed finish to level midway through the first half – had looked like sparking yet another Alloa comeback.

But, a Lawrence Shankland penalty and two Michael Moffat goals sent the Ayrshire men home with all three points.

After a disappointing few weeks for the Wasps, this always seemed the perfect chance for the wounded part-timers to rediscover themselves.

The visitors may have boasted two wins, five scored, and nil conceded over Alloa, but they too arrived in Clackmannanshire hoping to arrest a worrying decline that had seen them give up crucial ground in the title race.

In amongst news of a delay to kick off due to a crash on the M77, Jim Goodwin's hand was forced into changes.

Out went the ever dependable Sam Roscoe due to injury and in came Jon Robertson at left back as Liam Dick partnered Andy Graham.

One of the conundrums going forward will be how to fit the likes of Iain Flannigan and Jordan Kirkpatrick in the same starting lineup. The former was shunted out onto the left on Saturday, to limited effect.

Kirkpatrick's day was also mixed, but he did show wonderful composure to turn Andy Murdoch and send Connor Shields away as part of one of Alloa's best moves of the game. Shields' cross was volleyed over the bar by Dario Zanatta.

This chance, 20 minutes in, seemed to spark proceedings to life as both teams suddenly exchanged a flurry of punches.

First, Moffat put one wide when clean through on Neil Parry before Graham saw his header dealt with comfortably by Ross Doohan at the other end.

But, the first knockout blow was landed by the visitors, with new dad Moffat – who welcomed a baby girl to the world that very morning – unleashing an unstoppable strike past Parry from 20 yards.

As they have done so often this season, the Wasp quickly lifted themselves off the turf and levelled within a minute.

Flannigan picked the ball up in the Ayr penalty area, played it to Trouten, who skipped by Ross Docherty and placed it into the corner.

For all their excellent work in a tightly contested opening half, Shankland's penalty early in the second half notched Ayr ahead. Alloa were always up against it from there.

As the game neared the 70th minute, it seemed they had finally clicked into battle with Flannigan playing an increasingly influential role.

His run teed up the onrushing Zanatta, who saw his thunderous goal bound effort superbly blocked by Aaron Muirhead.

Muirhead was at it again just moments later when he threw himself in the way of another drive from the Canadian.

The Wasps continued to swarm forward as the late drama took hold of the Indodrill.

Goodwin had raged at the officials throughout, but it was Ian McCall who, rightly, was furious when his side were denied a penalty after a Graham foul.

At the other end, Flannigan was denied by the fingertips of Doohan from equalising at the death.

Ultimately, Alloa's hard work was undone as Moffat pounced on sloppy play at the back between Parry, Kirkpatrick, and Robertson to end hopes of another fightback.

ALLOA: Parry, Taggart, Robertson, Graham, Dick, Hetherington (Hamilton, 78), Flannigan, Kirkpatrick, Shields, Zanatta, Trouten (Aitchison, 79). UNUSED SUBS: Cawley, Brown, Peggie, Henry.