ALLOA ATHLETIC.......................0
PARTICK THISTLE.....................2

Scottish Championship

IF Alloa are going to continue to defy the odds and keep their place in the Championship, they are going to have to do it the hard way after another damaging defeat to their relegation rivals.

An early Blair Spittal strike and a composed finish from veteran Scott McDonald proved too much for the battling Wasps, who have now lost four league games in a row.

It was a result that sent Alloa to the bottom for the first time since August and ensures the next few months are going to be an uphill struggle.

Odds that won’t be helped by Alloa’s bad recent habit of giving the opposition cheap goals.

In this one, barely four minutes had elapsed when it struck again as Spittal rifled an unstoppable shot beyond Neil Parry after being teed up by Kris Doolan who benefited from charitable defending.

The diminutive Spittal was proving a thorn in the Wasps side and nearly doubled the lead when he found space behind the Alloa backline, but Parry stood tall at his near post to block.

Truth be told, Alloa offered next to nothing in an attacking sense – a half-hearted claim from Kevin Cawley for a handball in the box aside – during the game’s opening period.

The Glasgow side, meanwhile, looked to have benefited like last week’s opponents Falkirk by bringing in host of reinforcements in a relentless start.

Cawley’s involvement here was welcome as he made his first start in three, with Kirkpatrick dropping out.

The little winger was certainly bringing his all action approach to Thistle’s Christie Elliot and was unlucky to hit a fresh air shot from Connor Shields’ inviting delivery as the Wasps hunted for an equaliser.

In a tussle between two sides who started the day in the bottom two, this was always likely to produce a cagey contest.

As Thistle’s early pressure relented, neither side seemed capable of stringing a move of note together as both keepers remained mostly untroubled.

But at both ends of the pitch, Cawley was suddenly involved. Initially, he forced Alloa’s first corner of the day with another deflected drive before he twisted in the box to find space and unleash a shot that proved too hot to handle for Conor Hazard.

In between this, he was in the right place at the right time to clear Gary Harkins’ header off the line.

In a frantic spell for Parry’s goal, Jack McMillan’s miscued cross crashed against the bar to ensure it stayed just one.

Under the watchful eye of Hearts’ manager Craig Levein, Dario Zanatta took a little while to get going, but as the half wore on he was increasingly influential.

The Canadian was unlucky to see Steven Anderson throw himself in the way of his effort from inside the box on the stroke of half time.

Much like the first half, it was the visitor’s who had the better of things at the start of the second.

Doolan’s wonderful drive from the edge of the area had Parry desperately throwing himself across his goal as it flew just inches wide.

With results less than kind to them elsewhere, the Wasps were up against it. In many ways, there’s no place they’d rather be than on the floor with a cocky heavyweight standing over them.

In relative terms, they come no heavier than former Celtic ace Scott McDonald.

The veteran Aussie was as surprise signing for Thistle during the week and his introduction, midway through the second half, almost reaped instant success but his shot was uncharacteristically high and wide.

But, he wasn't to be denied for long when he stole in between Sam Roscoe and Graham and showed the composure of his years to slot home past Parry to kill the game.

How Alloa could have done with someone of his stature at the other end.

For all the effort, drive, and, at times, skilful play of the likes of Zanatta, Iain Flannigan, and Shields, Hazard’s goal was never truly tested.

Even when they did finally beat Hazard, Stuart Bannigan was there to clear Jack Hamilton’s last gasp effort off the line and seal all three points for the visitors.

ALLOA: Parry, Taggart, Dick, Roscoe, Graham, Hetherington, Cawley, Flannigan, Trouten, Zanatta, Shields. SUBS: Robertson, Hamilton, Brown, Kirkpatrick, Henry.