IF IT'S the hope that kills you, Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Dundee United will have sent Wasp fans to the morgue.

For 83 minutes, the Wasps threatened to snatch the unlikeliest of points until Nicky Clark tapped home to crush Alloa hearts and keep them rock bottom of the Championship.

An Andy Graham own goal had earlier cancelled out Jordan Kirkpatrick’s opener, which for so long looked to have made up ground on Partick Thistle in the relegation battle.

It was a crushing blow to Jim Goodwin's men, whose makeshift back four had defended for their lives as they threatened to upset the apple cart.

Only six minutes had elapsed in the day’s sole Championship fixture when Kirkpatrick fired home against the stunned Arabs.

Iain Flannigan’s corner into the box was flapped into the path of Alan Trouten and the veteran had no trouble teeing up Kirkpatrick with a lovely flick towards the back post, who buried it past the stranded Benjamin Siegrist.

The early effort was just rewards for a confident opening from Goodwin’s men and they had already forced Siegrist into a double save from Dario Zanatta's well-taken drive and Trouten's header on the rebound.

The makeshift Wasps were more than matching Neilson’s men and by now the 80 or so visiting faithful were dreaming of an upset against the fallen giant – a giant which seemed to be awoken from its slumber by the early opener.

Andy Graham was forced into a couple of last ditch blocks and Neil Parry had to keep his eye on a Calum Butcher effort as the hosts looked for an instant retort.

Sam Roscoe’s injury will undoubtedly hinder the Wasps’ hopes of pulling off the remarkable survival. In his absence, Goodwin shuffled the pack with Scott Taggart partnering Graham and Jon Robertson on the right. Liam Dick kept his place at left back.

A quick glance to the bench – which contained the likes of Adam Brown, Zach Karadachki, and Reis Peggie and a combined two appearances since the start of December between them – was a timely reminder of just what the Wasps are up against.

For the most part, the four defended admirably despite United growing increasingly hungry for the equaliser as the half wore on. Taggart, in particular, was excellent at the heart of the defence.

But their resistance was finally broken when the hosts finally scored the goal they craved. After Dick hacked down Paul McMullan on the right, Nicky Clark got on the end of the latter’s inviting free kick to help it home via the back of Graham’s head, 27 minutes in.

The floodgates began to creak as United poured forward in search of a quick-fire second. Parry first denied Sam Stanton and then comfortably dealt with a drive from Butcher, but saved his very best for the hour mark.

With Alloa pinned inside their box from the first peep of Nick Walsh’s second half whistle, McMullan twisted his way past Dick to put it on a plate for Paul Watson.

The centre back had already reeled away in celebration, sure his point blank header was destined for the net. That was until, remarkably, the big goalie threw an arm to his right and clawed the ball away.

The hosts undoubtedly dominated the ball in the second half and always looked the more likely to score. But that’s not to say Alloa didn’t have some near misses of their own.

Midway through the half, Graham nearly avenged his earlier own goal by forcing Siegrist into a save from a header.

Zanatta, who by now had drifted onto the left, was next to threaten when he jinked his way towards the Swiss’ goal before watching his deflected strike land inches wide.

Intent on pouncing on Partick Thistle’s dropped points the night before, Goodwin threw on Kevin Cawley and later Jack Hamilton to try and force what would have been a priceless winner.

But, United were still the team in the ascendancy and their dominance paid at the death.

After Hamilton was bullied off the ball on the halfway line, the hosts broke down Alloa’s right with pace, Jamie Robson and McMullan played a neat one-two to leave Robertson for dead, and the young full back’s ball across the face of goal was tapped home by Clark to seal all three points.

ALLOA: Parry, Robertson, Dick, Taggart, Graham, Hetherington (Brown 85), Flannigan, Shields (Hamilton 75), Kirkpatrick, Trouten (Cawley 62), Zanatta. UNUSED SUBS: Henry, Karadachki, Peggie.