IF YOU’RE not going to win the game, make sure you don’t lose it.

Those were the words of Alloa manager Barry Ferguson following his side’s dismal defeat to Clyde earlier this month. After going a goal down, Alloa managed to claw their way back to level terms. However, as their attempts on goal proved futile, Clyde countered and stole the three points.

Alloa really couldn’t have made it any harder for themselves on Saturday, but they somehow avoided defeat. Whisper it, but they may even feel they should have taken the three points.

Queen’s Park were undefeated when they arrived at the Indodrill and are one of the favourites for the cinch League One title.

Ferguson would admit after the match he knew his side could not play open, expansive football or Queen’s would cut them open, and so the plan was to be hard to beat.

After a poor – and that’s putting it mildly – performance against Clyde, Fernandy Mendy was dropped from the starting line-up. The Wasps lined up with a back four, with Jon Robertson on the right and Scott Taggart on the left, either side of Andy Graham and Mark Durnan.

The role of Craig Howie and Mouhamed Niang is to protect the defence and help the transition from back to front. Howie, early on in the first half, received a booking for a clumsy challenge.

From the beginning, Queen’s were dominating the ball without really causing the home side any problems. Simon Murray’s movement was proving troubling without any end product.

One great chance and one half chance fell to the Wasps but they were unable to convert.

Kevin Cawley, on his return to the side following an operation, was able to find Robertson on the right wing. His cross was collected by Steven Boyd in the box and he unleashed a volley that went straight down the throat of Willie Muir. Niang would then try his luck from distance and it wasn’t far away from the post.

As manager of Alloa last season, Peter Grant constantly bemoaned the poor refereeing decisions that hindered his side and disputed the claims they would level out over the season. If that’s true, Alloa can await a huge slice of good fortune.

A smart piece of play by Graham gave him the space to look up and clip a great through ball to Conor Sammon. The striker had escaped his defender and was rushing onto the ball when he was clearly blocked by Queen’s keeper – and last man – Muir. For reasons unknown, referee Chris Fordyce only showed a yellow and Alloa couldn’t make the free kick count.

After one blow to the side, Alloa were dealt another. Howie, attempting to slide tackle one Queen’s player, caught another and was shown a second yellow. With 13 minutes of the first half and the whole second half remaining, Alloa would be playing with a man down.

“I think even before we lose Howie to the sending off, it was probably quite a good game to watch,” Robertson said after the match. “I thought we were getting crosses into their box, a few chances with Kev’s header and they were the same.

“Even up to that point, we were well in the game. I expect them to be quite strong this year.

“When we go down to 10 men I think we managed the first half well, getting to half-time is the first hurdle, get there no worse than you are and take it from there. I thought we regrouped and it’s always going to be – against a team with good quality – a long second half.

“Even then it’s a disappointing goal to lose, just a wee breakdown in communication between us and Hutts [David Hutton] and the boy Murray will mop them up all year. It was definitely more positive.”

With a big 45 minutes to go, Alloa were able to dig in and grind out a point, despite the goal Robertson mentioned.

A floated ball into the box should have been collected by Hutton, but for whatever reason he pulled out and the ball fell to the head of Murray who headed it into an empty net.

With more than 30 minutes left, there was a worry the floodgates may open but Alloa restructured and started trying to find a way back into the match.

Cawley, Sammon and an injured Taggart made way for Mendy, Cammy O’Donnell and Adam King and Alloa were able to hold a better shape.

With less than 15 minutes to go, Alloa got their opportunity and Boyd grabbed it with both hands. A terrific free-kick from the former Peterhead man bounced off the bar and over the line.

“I actually changed my mind last minute,” Boyd told Advertiser Sport after the match. “I was going to hit it keeper’s side and then I clipped it the other side.”

Alloa would push for the winner but, in a stark change to the Clyde performance, they didn’t score a second but they also didn’t concede. In situations like Saturday, hat’s all Ferguson can ask for.

ALLOA: Hutton, Robertson, Graham, Durnan, Taggart (Mendy), Howie, Niang, Cawley (King), Boyd, Sammon (O’Donnell). Unused: McDowall, Lamont, Webster, Trouten