ALLOA put up a brave fight as they were narrowly beaten by Premiership side Hibs in last Saturday’s Betfred Cup tie.

The Wasps defended manfully throughout and played with a confidence belying their part-time status against their higher-division opponents.

The display showed a marked improvement from the midweek draw with Elgin – and even in defeat they will have been satisfied with their efforts.

New manager Peter Grant pitched new signing Kevin O’Hara in from the start, ably supported by Alan Trouten, Kevin Cawley and Adam Brown.

There was immediately a scare inside the first minute as a loose pass from Scott Taggart sent Martin Boyle scurrying down the right, but skipper Andy Graham headed the winger’s cross clear.

The home side started strongly and Steven Whittaker had a good chance to test Neil Parry when he latched onto a headed clearance from Taggart on the edge of the box, but the former Scotland international didn’t catch his volley and it trickled harmlessly wide.

Parry was called into action for the first time with five minutes played as Tom James slipped a neat ball through to Florian Kamberi, the goalkeeper racing off his line sharply to deny the Swiss striker.

Whittaker had another good opportunity as he got his head to an inviting corner from Stevie Mallan, but his glancing effort was harmlessly wide.

Hibs were really starting to turn the screw and Parry was called into action again when Boyle played in Christian Doidge, making a smart stop to deny the former Forest Green striker from an angle.

Alloa battled gamely and had one or two chances of their own. Liam Dick fizzed a cross in from the left which was just too far behind Alan Trouten, last season’s top scorer heading wide of the target.

Another chance followed for Whittaker at the other end, the defender again rising unchallenged to meet a Mallan corner and again failing to test Parry.

The keeper was again called into action when Daryl Horgan nipped clear, Parry standing strong and saving well with his feet.

Seconds later, the Wasps registered their first shot on target as Adam Brown’s low drive was gathered by Ofir Marciano.

Hibs continued to flood forward and Graham made a timely intervention to reach Boyle’s ball across the face of goal before it reached Doidge for what would have been a certain tap-in.

Brown was looking lively down the left for Alloa and was doing a good job of exploiting the space down the flank. A solo run presented him with a shooting opportunity but his curled effort from just outside the box sailed over the crossbar.

The visitors were growing into the game and when Darren McGregor hesitated in clearing a cross from Dick, O’Hara was almost able to steal it off his toes but the defender recovered.

They were looking terrific on the break and their best chance up to that point arrived six minutes before the break. Kevin Cawley released Dick down the left and he fired a ball into the middle which Trouten volleyed just wide.

In the opening exchanges of the second half, there was a moment of panic for the hosts when a low ball from Cawley was fumbled behind for a corner by Marciano, who also dropped the resulting ball in from Stevie Hetherington.

Hibs had started the second period purposefully though, and half-time substitute Scott Allan stung Parry’s hands with a fierce drive from distance.

Hibs had a huge shout for a penalty when Doidge seemed to be pulled down by Graham as he stretched to reach a Paul Hanlon cross, but referee Kevin Clancy waved play on.

The striker was involved again as he attempted to get on the end of Boyle’s knock-down, but Parry did magnificently to claw the ball away from the striker – although he did pick up a knock in the process.

The battle between Parry and Doidge continued to rage, with the big keeper well on top as he kept out a powerful header.

But finally the striker did gain the upper hand ass he gave the home side the lead. He raced onto a ball over the top, lifting the ball over Parry as he raced off his line to break the deadlock.

Worse was to follow for the Wasps. The keeper, so often a standout performer, picked up a head knock in his attempt to prevent the opener and was unable to continue. He was replaced by Chris Henry, who entered the fray to make his debut.

The young stopper was soon called into action, reacting quickly after almost being wrong-footed by a deflected shot from Whittaker.

And even when he was beaten by Fraser Murray’s shot, Taggart was on hand with a vital goal-line clearance.

The one blot on his copybook came when he rushed out to collect a cross, only for Doidge to beat him to the ball and nod home – but the striker was flagged offside.

However, there was nothing Henry or anyone else in black and gold could do when Hibs did add their second. Mallan probed for an opening and when none was forthcoming, he laid the ball off to James who curled an outstanding shot into the top corner.

Whittaker continued in wasteful fashion as he latched onto an error from Taggart and looked certain to slot beyond Henry, only to inexplicably send his shot high over the bar from eight yards out.

Alloa continued to battle in the dying seconds, and Brown fizzed a drive wide as they looked for a consolation.

That proved to be the final action, and although his side were defeated, Grant will have been pleased with how his players acquitted themselves against a side who will harbour ambitions of troubling the European spots in the Premiership this season.

Alloa Athletic: Parry (Henry), Robertson, Dick, Taggart, Graham, Hetherington, Cawley, Flannigan, O’Hara, Trouten (Buchanan), Brown. Not used: Stirling, O’Donnell, Aloulou, Gillespie, Murray.