BRIAN RICE remains in confident mood ahead of the final four games of the season, despite a second successive home defeat to play-off chasing Queen of the South on Saturday.

Two goals from in-form striker Ruari Paton gave the visitors a 2-0 lead at the interval, and despite relentless Alloa pressure late on, Scott Taggart's strike from range was the hosts' only goal of the afternoon.

After the defeat, Rice reflected on the thin margins that separated the two sides on the day.

He said: "It was a great performance and I think we dominated most of the match.

"It's the best start we've started a game and we could have been a couple of goals up, but, we weren't and then two individual mistakes give you a mountain to climb.

"But, overall, we gave it everything we had and I couldn't have asked for anything more effort-wise. On another day we possibly could have won the game."

The Wasps started brightly, and the first chance of the game through a deep cross from Scott Taggart which evaded everyone and sailed narrowly wide of the upright.

A flick-on from MacIver was then met by Luke Donnelly, whose scuffed effort appeared to be looping over Dabrowski in the Queen's net, but it dropped just past the post.

But for all the early pressure it was the away side who would open the scoring following an uncharacteristic error from Jay Hogarth. His attempted pass up the field was blocked by Ruari Paton. The striker first to the contested ball flicked it over the keeper and walked it into the empty net.

The Queen's opener shifted the momentum. Not long after ex-Alloa loanee Cammy Logan slipped through and found himself one-on-one in acres of space but placed his shot wide.

Kieran McKechnie then hit the bar with a looping header.

The hosts were once again caught sleeping at the back, following Ian Wilson's driving run Paton latched onto the ball in the box and coolly slotted it past Hogarth, taking his tally to 19 in the league this season.

Alloa pushed for a way back into the game, but Scougall's downward header was comfortable for the keeper.

On the stroke of half time, the Doonhamers had a glorious chance to make it three, Lee Connelly blazing over after being slipped in by Paton on the counter-attack.

The hosts came flying out of the traps in the second half but struggled to break down a resolute Queens backline, with the visitors still looking as threatening on the break.

Substitute Cnnor Sammon went close moments after entering the field but Kevin Dabrowski was equal to it.

The Wasps did half the deficit just past the hour mark. A cleared corner came to Scott Taggart, who took a couple of steps and drilled the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

The goal gave Alloa a lifeline, but as they continued to push Queen of the South posed a threat on the break. Jay Hogarth saved with his feet to deny Ross Irving a goal from the bench as he raced through one-on-one.

In stoppage time Queen of the South keeper, Kevin Dabrowski pulled off a sensational double save, first tipping MacIver's effort onto the bar before blocking Sammon's shot from close range.

The drama wasn't over yet, as Sammon then hit the bar a minute later, leaving the hosts wondering what could have been.

The result moves the visitors to within three points of the Wasps, but Rice insists that his side is still in the driving seat.

He said: "We're three points ahead and we have a superior goal difference.

"But we don't look any further forward than next week's game.

"I think the way we started the game today was fantastic before the setbacks, but like I said that was really good stuff and that's as good as we've played in a long time."

The Wasps face Kelty Hearts next, who are winless in seven games. They sit eighth in the table and have nothing to play for given they cannot mathematically finish in a promotion place or be relegated.

ALLOA: Hogarth, Taggart, Miller, MacIver, Scougall, Stanger, Strachan (O'Donnell 82'), Donnelly, Doyle, Durnan (Coulson 46'), Robertson (Sammon 56').