FOR Alloa fans, the Championship table makes for some grim reading. Once again, Saturday saw an opportunity to move up the table come and go.

Queen of the South and Arbroath both lost their games this weekend. Had Alloa won, they would have got off the bottom of the table and been joint in eighth place.

Alloa came into this game off the back of a history-making Betfred Cup win over Hearts. There was only one change to that team with Nicky Jamieson, a colossus at the centre of defence, forced out due to an injury picked up mid-week.

That meant a return to the starting 11 for Jon Robertson who reclaimed his right-back position and Scott Taggart moved into the middle alongside Andy Graham.

Alloa had their first chance of the match six minutes in when Kevin Cawley got on the end of Liam Dick’s cross but he could only put it over the bar.

Ayr put the pressure on and forced Neil Parry to make some excellent saves. Michael Moffat, lucky to not be judged offside, forced the keeper into a great diving save.

Just minutes later the ball bounced to Ray Grant on the edge of the box and he controlled it well before launching a tame volley into the keeper’s arms with his right foot. It was the kind of opportunity he may have buried had it been on his favoured left, but that’s Alloa’s luck at the moment.

The first real moment of quality in the match came from Ayr’s Joe Chalmers. After Steven Hetherington brought down Cammy Smith, Chalmers’ free kick smashed of the underside of the bar. Parry could only look on; the free kick was inches away from being perfect.

Alloa were working the ball out wide and getting numbers in the box, but almost every ball was being blocked by an Ayr body. When the ball did make it into the box, Ayr’s keeper Sinisalo parried it right into the six-yard box but there was nobody to capitalise on the mistake.

With half-time less than 10 minutes away, Ayr took the lead. Some great neat possession and passing around Alloa’s box – a theme of the day – saw Chalmers wander into the box and float a cross across goal. With nobody marking him, Luke McCowan was able to calmly chest the ball into the net.

The second half began and Alloa took a bit more control of the match. Grant’s ball over the top played in Liam Buchanan who controlled well and drilled the ball across goal towards Innes Murray. The ball was just too far in front of him and he couldn’t make contact. Any touch would have been a goal.

Just as Alloa were beginning to get a hold of the game, they conceded again. An excellent goal that’s hard to argue against, Aaron Muirhead played in McCowan down the line, who backheeled it back to Muirhead and took out two Wasps in the process. Muirhead’s cross was met by Andy Murdoch who drilled it under Parry to double the visitors’ lead.

The second goal forced Alloa into a change and Lee Connelly replaced Murray on the left wing. Connelly’s pace instantly caused Ayr a problem and gave Alloa some intensity in the final third.

After the second goal went in, there was only going to be one winner. Alloa’s passing was off and when they worked the ball into dangerous positions, the final ball was lacking. Robert Thomson entered the pitch for Kevin Cawley and the striker managed to bundle a header by Connelly into the net but the keeper pushed it away and the referee didn’t believe it crossed the line.

Ayr would go down to 10 men after Cammy Smith received a second yellow for an elbow on Scott Taggart, but Alloa couldn’t make the most of the advantage. Thomson caused the visitors some problems with his presence winning balls in the air and worked hard to knock it down to the supporting attackers.

Buchanan had a golden opportunity around the 90-minute mark even if it would have been too late. Again, Thomson’s header played his strike partner through on goal but his effort was tame and it was easily collected by Sinisalo.

Another defeat for the Wasps sees them stay bottom for another week. Next up is a massive double header. Away to Arbroath on Saturday is followed by the Betfred Cup quarter-final against Hibs on Tuesday.

With Arbroath just one point above Alloa, a win would be a great result, however the bottom line is Alloa cannot be beaten.

Peter Grant always takes each week one game at a time and, whether he does have an eye on the cup, the trip to Arbroath is a huge game for his side.

ALLOA: Parry, Dick, Taggart Graham, Robertson, Hetherington, Grant, Cawley (Thomson 76), Trouten, Murray (Connelly 63), Buchanan. UNUSED SUBS: Willison, Scougall, Brown, O’Donnell, Lynch