A MAKESHIFT Alloa’s return to League One got off to the worst possible start as they tasted defeat in their first game in the third tier for three years.

It was a sobering afternoon for the men in black and gold on the long journey north to Peterhead, who are widely tipped for relegation but showed plenty to suggest they can compete at this level.

Depleted Alloa were without Scott Taggart, Jon Robertson, Mark Durnan and Kevin Cawley, meaning Barry Ferguson had to field a makeshift lineup with only three outfield substitutes on the bench.

The sides traded blows in the opening three minutes, Steven Boyd slashing a shot high and wide from the edge of the box after Adam King’s cross had been half-cleared before Peterhead captain Scott Brown’s effort went wide of David Hutton’s left-hand post.

Hutton was pressed into action on four minutes when Lyall Cameron’s shot took a wicked deflection and was heading for the bottom corner before the keeper, making his league debut, got down to gather.

But after seven minutes there was nothing he could do about the opener. Niah Payne tore clear of Andy Graham down the right and the winger’s perfect cross was finished superbly by Russell McLean.

Alloa struggled to find a foothold in the game and the next meaningful chance also fell the way of McLean, whose diving header was well saved by Hutton.

The keeper was having a busy afternoon and made an excellent save on 35 minutes when he tipped over an effort from part-time midfield and full-time podcast host Si Ferry, before also keeping out a shot from Payne.

Ferguson replaced Alan Trouten and Jordan Armstrong with Cammy O’Donnell and Reis Webster at the break with the pair playing in a more advanced role off Conor Sammon.

The visitors were almost caught out soon after the restart. Craig Howie fouled Hamish Ritchie, Andrew McCarthy found Payne with a quick free kick and his cut-back was cleared over the bar by the stretching Nando Mendy.

Josh Mulligan then glanced a header wide from a corner as the hosts looked for a second which would have surely ended the contest.

But soon after they did have their second and it was a mirror image of the first. McLean hurdled Howie’s challenge and crossed for Payne whose deft touch into the far corner gave Hutton no chance.

By this point Alloa were really struggling and Payne almost added his second with 20 minutes to go, firing a shot wide of Hutton’s goal.

The visitors’ afternoon was summed up when Boyd made a terrific run and got in behind the defence, but with three men waiting in the middle could only send the ball sailing over everyone’s heads.

In truth it was a bitterly disappointing start to the season for the Wasps and a deserved defeat which will have left Ferguson with much to ponder if he wants an immediate return to Championship life.

ALLOA: Hutton, Howie, Mendy, Graham, Armstrong, King, Scougall, Boyd, Church, Sammon, Trouten, O'Donnell (on 46), Webster (on 46), Lamont (on 81). UNUSED SUB: McDowall.