FOR the fourth and final time this season, Alloa are set to head east as Dundee United welcome them to Tannadice on Saturday.

It seems an age since the first ball was kicked in anger between the two back in July – the Wasps fended off Csaba Laszlo’s below par Arabs on penalties in the Betfred Cup on that day – and the two sides have become intimately acquainted since then.

Alan Trouten, the club’s top scorer, scored an equalising penalty in the 1-1 draw and the veteran was at it again just two months later. On that occasion, Alloa once again took the Arabs to spot kicks and once again held their nerve in the Irn-Bru Cup.

For Trouten, trips to Tannadice have inevitably led to goals. To add to his cup strikes, he netted the opener, again from the spot, in Alloa’s only defeat to the Tangerines this season; a 4-2 reverse at the hands of new boss Robbie Neilson in November.

A stunning free kick from Iain Flannigan had given the Wasps a fighting chance that evening and the cultured midfielder has his own form in the fixture. In the sides’ clash at the Indodrill Stadium in September, his late free kick secured a much-deserved point for Jim Goodwin’s men as he hammered home another nail in Laszlo’s coffin.

When the Arabs next travelled to the Wee County in the dying embers of 2018, the Hungarian’s doomed reign was fast becoming a distant memory. Neilson was in the dugout but could only watch on in disbelief as Dario Zanatta popped up with a stunning late winner to lift Alloa to the heady heights of eighth in the Championship table.

Much has changed since that memorable day in Alloa. Dundee United have only lost twice in eight games to keep up their outside hopes of piping Ross County to the league title, while the Wasps have undoubtedly floundered. Five defeats in eight - alongside worryingly good form for their relegation rivals - has seen Goodwin’s men plummet to the foot of the table.

Two sides, then, whose fortunes have fluctuated to both extremes since the timid first introduction in July. For Alloa’s sake, they will hope their dominant head-to-head record over the Tangerines remains in tact come the final whistle.