ALLOA Athletic manager had only praise for the spirit of his players as they stand on the brink of relegation from the SPFL Championship following a 1-0 defeat to St Mirren.

The gaffer reckons it was another game that sums up the luck they have had this season because after a level first half, the Wasps absolutely dominated the second period before Alex Rae's men somehow rallied to snatch a late winner.

The 39-year-old boss must now rally his gutted players as they get set for a win-or-bust encounter with rivals Livingston next weekend and he says they will not go out without a fight.

Ross told Advertiser sport: “I have said for a while now, the position we have found ourselves in, if we were going to get out of that position then we would need to win games and that hasn't happened for us. One thing I would say though, is that we will need to be dragged out of the league and will certainly not go out with just a wee pat on the head. The players have done that in the main since I have come to the club, pride was the thing I asked the players to show against St Mirren and they showed that in abundance. I have not one bit of complaint about the performance, the players didn’t deserve that result - but it’s a results business. Nothing I can say will change that, the only thing if they are looking to learn something from today is remember how they feel, try and use that as motivation so they don’t want to feel that pain again.

“We knew it was a must win, but to be fair lady luck has not been kind to us and at times things just wouldn’t fall our way at the right moment, so maybe it’s just not meant to be. The spirit the players have shown has been terrific, and I heard supporters going away from the game hugely frustrated, but also proud of the performance of the team.

“It was another tough defeat to take for the players, who put so much into the match. I’m not gutted for myself, but it is for them and it was a very quiet dressing room after the game. I thought they were terrific. In the first half, we competed well and there wasn’t a lot in the game, but in the second half they were very, very good. I would defy anybody to say otherwise, we were the better team by a stretch, played really well and created good opportunities. I don’t think it was bad finishing, just we needed a wee bit fortune at times, so it was cruel.”

Ross reserved special praise for on-loan Celtic forward Michael Duffy who produced an inspired second half display to drive his side on and the gaffer reckons the display proves he has a big future ahead of him.

He said: “Michael Duffy was outstanding. He has been a great success for us and it will be beneficial for him over his career because he has a bright future in the game. Michael is a lovely boy with a terrific attitude. I think for the last couple weeks he has not been at his best, his work rate could not be questioned, but he didn’t look just as sharp. Even in the first half against St Mirren, but then for him to produce that kind of performance in the second half was terrific. He has shown exactly what he has in his locker, which makes him such a threat to defenders. It is just a case of getting him to believe in himself enough because believe it or not, players are not always arrogant and full of themselves.”

The former Falkirk and Clyde defender was impressed by the goalkeeping of St Mirren's veteran keeper Jamie Langfield and believes he was the only reason Alloa did not win the game.

Ross added: “There were a few key moments in the game, not least some of the saves Jamie Langfield produced but he is a very good goalkeeper who played a long time in the Premier League. They had a number of players in their team who played in the Premier League last season and we were better than them, but he was the difference. The save from Duffy's shot in the second half was fantastic because not only was he going the wrong way, but the shot is hit with terrific power.”