Alloa Athletic….........2

Scottish Cup, 3rd round

CRAIG MALCOLM'S second-half double inspired Alloa Athletic as they sealed their passage into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.

The Wasps were made to sweat by the League Two side, who took the lead in the first half through Nicki Paterson, but Malcolm’s brace made sure of his side’s progress.

Alloa fielded an unchanged team once again as they looked to stretch their winning run into a fifth game. Ryan Hoggan returned to the substitutes’ bench after a spell on the sidelines with injury.

Former Wasps Jamie Longworth and Eddie Ferns both lined up for the home side, who were looking to build on their impressive League Two form.

The Warriors had the better of the opening stages while Alloa looked nervous, and a mix-up between Scott Taggart and Neil Parry almost let the hosts in for an opener inside the first few minutes.

Iain Flannigan was getting some joy down the left and when he beat Ross Meechan and laid it on a plate for Malcolm, it seemed certain that the Wasps would take the lead, but the striker couldn’t reach the ball despite stretching for it.

Mark McGuigan looked very dangerous for the hosts and was showing all the confidence of a man with 14 goals this season. A couple of driving runs almost brought results, the second ending in a shot which forced Parry into his first meaningful save.

Just before the half-hour mark, the breakthrough arrived and it went the way of the League Two side.

Ferns’ run down the left created the space for him to produce a teasing cross, and when the Alloa defence missed the ball completely, Paterson was on hand to lash it home at the back post.

In truth it was no more than they deserved but Alloa almost got back on terms immediately, Malcolm rattling the crossbar from another excellent Flannigan delivery.

However, it should have been 2-0 to the hosts five minutes later. Ferns again burst down the left, and his cross was turned home by Longworth, but the striker was denied by a contentious offside call from the assistant referee.

Alloa did grow into the game and Kevin Cawley saw a header cleared off the line before he drilled his follow-up wide of the mark.

In-form McGuigan should have extended his side’s lead five minutes before the break when he raced clear, but with only Parry to beat he uncharacteristically blazed his effort high and wide.

Alloa started the second half with renewed vigour and got their reward just five minutes in. Steven Hetherington’s cross found Malcolm, and this time he was able to convert, volleying past Chris Smith to drag his side level.

The Wasps had a huge claim for a penalty when the ball appeared to strike a Warriors player on the arm in a goalmouth scramble, but the referee was unmoved as the away fans raged.

Midway through the half, the turnaround was complete when Malcolm added his second. Flannigan swung in a corner, Smith came and missed it, and the striker was on hand to lash the loose ball into the roof of the net.

Having set up his side’s goal, Ferns almost got on the scoresheet himself, but although his looping header had Parry beaten, it sailed just wide of the far post, to the relief of the Alloa defence who had left him unmarked.

The home side continued to press in search of an equaliser but Alloa were holding firm, Parry and Andy Graham dealing with every ball that came their way.

Alloa could have had another late on when Kris Renton played a through-ball for Cawley, but Smith raced off his line to clear the danger.

There was more drama late on as Colin McMenamin thundered a header off the post, while Michael Dunlop volleyed just wide, but the Wasps survived to ensure their Scottish Cup journey continues.

ALLOA: Parry, Taggart, Crane, Graham, Fleming (Cook), Robertson, Cawley, Hetherington, Malcolm, Crossan (Renton), Flannigan. Not used: Martin, Hoggan, Goodwin, Wilson.