ALLOA ATHLETIC....................0

Scottish Championship

THIS was supposed to be a chance for Alloa to show they could respond to a painful setback.

But in the end, the Wasps were stung by their own disjointed display in the season’s first clash of the part-timers.

The fact the deficit was only one, courtesy of a delicious finish by the influential Bobby Linn, was the only blessing in an afternoon to forget by anyone with a Wee County persuasion.

On the day, Arbroath proved they were streets ahead in every department.

Any fading hopes of another rousing Alloa comeback were well and truly put to bed when Steven Hetherington was sent off for a needless second booking; but in all honesty those hopes were born out of desperation rather than anything tangible.

Even the most casual Wee County diehard couldn’t have helped but notice the Andy Graham shaped hole from the off. His absence – his first since an October 2017 clash, also against the Angus side – was sorely felt as Linn and Greig Spence bullied the makeshift backline.

The winning goal came after a quarter of an hour as Spence picked up a hopeful ball upfield before showing wonderful vision to play an inch-perfect ball between the lines for Linn to slot home beyond the onrushing Neil Parry.

Time and time again the visitors were finding joy in the space vacated by Graham. And even before he stroked home the opener, Linn had already stung the palms of Parry with a couple of early efforts after escaping the attentions of Jon Robertson and Scott Taggart.

Both chances and meaningful possession were scarce for the hosts who were struggling to lay a blow of note. Gone was the fluency from the midfield of past games, instead replaced by a nervousness and indecision which was hurting Alloa at both ends of the pitch.

It took Peter Grant’s men 23 minutes to create anything substantial going forward and it was the unlikeliest source as Liam Dick continued a fine run into Arbroath’s box and was unfortunate to see his effort at the near post flick off a defender and comfortably into Jamieson’s arms.

Jamieson enjoyed a disappointingly quiet afternoon, but moments after Dick’s half chance he once again had to look alert to push a Kevin Cawley cross away before he was quickest onto the rebound.

It’s difficult to pinpoint why Alloa never got going; the dizzying late August sunshine and stodgy pitch won’t have helped. But Arbroath were susceptible to their hindrance too and rarely showed it.

The visitors should have made it two before half time when Spence rose above a flustered Alloa defence to head agonisingly past the post.

There were few crumbs of comfort for Grant and even a half-time dressing down struggled to lift his side from their slumber.

With 50 minutes on the clock, the Wasps were the orchestrators of their own downfall once more when Parry’s slack pass forced Robbie Deas to give up possession in a dangerous area. The keeper redeemed himself with a decent save.

The hosts’ finest chance of the game came in their next – through increasingly rare – foray into the Arbroath penalty area. Kevin O’Hara, who was surprisingly quiet, played a clever pass into Liam Buchanan’s path, but he could only find Jamieson’s side net.

It was at the other end, in truth, where the real danger was, despite substitutes Robert Thomson and Andy Stirling both missing late half chance. Jason Thomson nodded one over the bar when unmarked at a corner before James Murphy’s curling effort smashed against Parry’s post and away from danger.

If this is going to be a cut-throat battle between the part-timers for survival then Alloa have plenty of work to do.

  • ALLOA: Parry, Robertson, Taggart, Dick, Deas, Hetherington (Off 77), Cawley (Stirling 70), Flannigan, Trouten, Buchanan (Thomson 58), O'Hara. UNUSED SUBS: Malcolm, Brown, O'Donnell, Henry.