SIXTY-eight seconds were all that stood between Alloa and a half-time lead at league leaders Dundee United.

We’ll never know how the game might have turned out had the Wasps rearguard remained stubborn for just a minute longer.

But, it gave United the route back into the game they needed and a team of their quality was always likely to find the winner; which came courtesy of a controversial Louis Appere strike.

It wasn’t for a want of trying from the hosts who had attacked the Wasps’ goal in the first-half with such alarming regularity it was less of a Tangerine wave and more of a tsunami.

Alloa tried to fend off United for as long as they could but the stubbornness of the defence and an inspired Jamie MacDonald could withstand the champions elect no more.

With just over a minute to go before the break and a Peter Grant pep-talk, Alloa gave up possession in the middle of the park and United smelled blood. Former Rangers man Nicky Clark - the scorn of the Wasps back in March - couldn’t believe his luck as he ghosted in-between Andy Graham and Robbie Deas before smashing the ball beyond MacDonald, who finally lost his personal duel with United’s front men.

Games away to a team of Dundee United’s calibre and relative financial power will never be those which define Alloa’s season and, ultimately, their Championship status. Instead Grant will undoubtedly look to the likes of Morton in the coming weeks as ‘must-win’, which was only exacerbated by Partick Thistle’s late winner to send the Wasps bottom.

Not that the Alloa gaffer would entertain any talk of the club’s league position in the post-game press conference.

The major surprise of the first-half was Alloa’s opener which came courtesy of a Mark Reynolds own goal and against the run of play.

From the off, Paul McMullan was running riot up against the Wasps’ makeshift left back Blair Malcolm and the Tangerines found themselves increasingly camped inside the part-timers' half as McDonald was called into action.

He pushed away efforts from Nicky Clark, Callum Butcher and Reynolds in the first seven minutes alone and few in the city of discovery could see anything other than a Dundee United opener.

But, the Wee County faithful have seen this Alloa side produce moments of disbelief with such regularity in recent times that it’s little wonder they still believed.

Scott Taggart, who was working his socks off at the other end, ventured into the Dundee United half and suddenly found himself on the edge of the host’s box. He glanced up, flung a hopeful cross towards Alan Trouten, and remarkably the ball was in the net and Tannadice was silent.

All except for those Alloa fans in the Jim McLean stand who bellowed out delight at what was happening before their very eyes.

Any hopes this would stifle United and provide respite for the visitor’s backline were soon put to bed as the Tangerines stormed up the other end in another wave of relentless attack.

MacDonald pulled off a flying save from Lewis Smith before a Dundee United man contrived to miss when practically on the line. The resistance lasted until Clark’s late strike.

The second-half fight lasted even less time at a rather underwhelming nine minutes when Malcolm again was caught out by sharp wing play and Appere gleefully tapped Ian Harkes’ ball across the face home.

In a season of seemingly endless officiating controversy, Grant rightly bemoaned a missed tug on Taggart from Appere which proved critical to his Wasps.

Oddly enough, the goal seemed even harsher on Alloa than United’s equaliser with the Wasps dashing out from the half-time oranges anew.

Jon Robertson picked up a loose ball from Benjamin Siegrist, dashed towards the United box, and kissed the top of the crossbar with a wonderful effort before Andy Graham - who seconds earlier had denied Smith a certain goal - glanced a header just wide.

The United goal aside, Alloa were playing the ball across the lush turf with far more fluidity than they had in the first-half. But, it would be harsh to criticise the Wasps too much especially against such a talented United side.

A side which threatened to make it three and even four when Jamie Robson curled an audacious effort onto MacDonald’s post and Clark later headed over the bar when it seemed the harder thing to do.

Alloa searched desperately for the equaliser and Grant introduced Robert Thomson and Liam Buchanan, with the former squandering the side’s best chance of the half when he opted to pass rather than shoot with the goal gaping.

If only they could have held on for 68 seconds more.