Montrose 4 Alloa Athletic 3

ANDY GRAHAM expressed immense pride in his players for their rallying performance in their 4-3 defeat to Montrose.

The Wasps made only one change from last week’s win over Hamilton, with Stefan Scougall replacing Miko Virtanen in midfield.

The hosts took an early lead through Blair Lyons, who slotted past PJ Morrison to send Montrose one up in the opening stages.

The Wasps grew into the match as the half went on, with Bobby Wales catching Scott Taggart’s run but his strong effort was saved by Cammy Gill. However, the keeper failed to hold the ball and Taylor Steven was there to fire in the rebound to level the match.

Alloa then stopped a Montrose attack and immediately responded, sending the ball over the top to find Ethan Sutherland. The on-loan St Mirren youngster showed great composure as he tussled with Aidan Quinn, got his shot away and sent Alloa into the lead.

Unfortunately, their lead was short lived as Michael Gardyne’s free kick was met by the head of Sean Dillon to bring the game level going into half time.

The game continued to be end to end in the second half, with Kane Hester restoring Montrose’s lead just five minutes in.

Anf the Wasps suffered a further setback just before the hour mark, as Kevin Cawley received an instant red card for dissent. His frustrations arose from a series of questionable decisions in Montrose’s favour by the referee, who had no hesitation in sending Cawley off.

Alloa were not phased by the red card, though, with Sutherland’s corner kick meeting Wales, whose impressive flick turned the ball neatly into the net at the near post.

Both sides battled for a winner, but in the end it was the hosts broke through one final time, Graham Webster bundling in their last effort to seal three points.

PJ Morrison came close to being the hero in Angus, as he came up for a corner and had several headed efforts cleared off the line.

“I’m really proud of the way they played,” Graham told Wasp TV. “When you go down to 10 men that early and you lose a goal, the easy thing to do would be to crumble, especially when you come to a place like this.

“But we didn’t, we created more chances with 10 men and that shows how much effort and quality they put into the game.

“When they go a man down and play the way they did, I’m really proud of the players. It’s really disappointing to lose the game but from what I saw out there in the second half, that fills me with a great deal of hope moving forward.”

Despite the result, Alloa’s fire power was on display for all to see, with each of the starting front three earning a spot on the scoresheet.

A stand-out was a first senior goal for club and career for Ethan Sutherland, while Bobby Wales and Taylor Steven continued their impressive form.

“I’m delighted for Ethan,” Graham continued. “I took him over after 15 minutes and said to him I thought he was playing within himself, he’s very positive in training.

“Once he got that into his game, you can see he’s such a threat and his finish was brilliant.

“I’m really pleased for him but, ultimately, we lost the game, so as good as it is to get Ethan, Bobby and Taylor on the scoresheet, when you come out the game with zero points, that’s the frustration.”

Kevin Cawley’s sending off means the midfielder will serve a one-match suspension and will be ineligible for the visit of Kelty Hearts this week.

Graham laid praise on the team for not allowing the red card to completely throw them, instead causing them to rally together and seek something from the game.

He explained: “I think Kev’s said something to the referee and he’s not been happy about it. It’s one of those things.

“Kev’s an experienced player, he’s as disappointed as anybody and he’ll know that more than anybody.

“That’s not an excuse because after that we go and play really well and anybody at the game would say we were unlucky not to snatch a point at the death when we were throwing everything at them.

“That’s credit to the players because it’s a long time to play with 10 men, so to play the way they did, I was really pleased with that.”

The defeat to Montrose brings Alloa’s winning run to an end, with the Wasps having previous won their last five fixtures in the league.

Despite this, they remain in the play-off spots, albeit dropping into fourth. But the Wasps do have a game in hand over Montrose and will look to kick on this week and embark on another run against Kelty Hearts.

“Every run comes to and end and it’s all about what you do next week,” Graham added. “The last time, it came to an abrupt end against Falkirk but we got right back on it and won the next week.

“All that will happen is we focus on Tuesday, we focus on Thursday and focus on getting three points on Saturday and bouncing back.”