ALLOA’S season got off to a rocky start as Stirling Albion came back from a goal down to win 2-1 at the Recs.

The Wasps started strongly in their first game of the 2023/24 League Cup campaign, keeping the Binos on their toes as they maintained pressure.

The game entered half time with Alloa very much so the better team, unfortunate not to have been a goal or two up by the break.

Alloa found their breakthrough from Quinn Coulson, who scored just a minute after coming off the bench with a free kick, slicing through the Binos defence and finding the bottom corner.

It wasn’t to last, however, as Paul McLean equalised for Stirling just ten minutes later. Alloa had penalty appeals waived off despite what seemed to be a clear handball in the Stirling box.

The match seemed sure to be going to penalties until a dubious penalty decision fell Stirling’s way. PJ Morrison went the right way but Dale Carrick’s effort found the net just above the keeper.

Manager Brian Rice said the result was disappointing but placed some praise on several individual performances.

“We’re disappointed to lose the match,” Rice said. “I thought we had control at 1-0 but they made a change and brought two strikers on.

“That changed the game and it upset our three centre backs.

“[Coulson] scored the goal but I expect a lot more from him. He knows that himself.

“There are some positives from tonight – Stephen Buchanan probably had his best game for us, he put some great balls in especially during the first half.

“Steven Hetherington was controlling the midfield. Big Conor [Sammon] is just back and we had to play him tonight, we gave him an hour.

“Josh Debayo hasn’t had any game time really but we gave him a bit of time as well.

“It was two poor goals that we lost. It’s not a great way to start.”

Josh Debayo made his debut in an Alloa shirt, having been announced as signing from Queen of the South just an hour before the match.

The centre half had a fairly solid outing, playing on the left of a back three alongside Morgyn Neill and fellow ex-Doonhammer David McKay.

McKay was at the heart of the penalty drama, with his high foot deemed as a foul in the box, with the referee initially giving a free kick before changing his mind and awarding a penalty.

“My view doesn’t matter,” Rice added. “If it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty, we just have to get on with the game.

“There’s too much debating on these things – just get on with the game. We’re here to play football and try to win football games.

“If the linesman helps the referee out and says it’s a penalty, it’s a penalty, I’ve not got any gripes about that.”

Rice offered an update on his search for new signings, having previously stated his wishes to bring in a new striker for the season.

“It’ll be after the group stages,” Rice explained. “People get caught up in the window but recruitment is every day of the year, right through the season and right through the summer.

“It’s not just about the window, you’re always looking and looking and there’s just this timescale where you can actually do it.

“We’re looking for loans but we won’t get any until beginning of August. Strikers are the hardest ones to get.

“We’re a part time club, I tried to get four strikers and they opted to go for full time clubs. You can’t argue with that.

“Boys want to play full time football and that’s what we’re up against.

“We keep looking and we keep looking and it never stops all the way throughout the year.”

With last night’s defeat, Alloa sit in fourth in their League Cup group, only ahead of St Johnstone on goals scored.

The Saints will visit the Recs this Saturday, with Alloa looking to bounce back and put some points on the board to remain in the running for the League Cup.

Rice said: “It’s another game [this Saturday]. We want to see if we can get that win.

“St Johnstone is a Premiership team, we need to make sure we don’t give away any soft goals that we gave away tonight and we try to be more clinical.

“We had plenty chances in the first half tonight to wrap up the game but fair play to Stirling Albion, they hung in there and finished the game strongly.

“Their two strikers coming off the bench made a big difference – we don’t yet have that luxury up front.

“I’m asking Coulson to play in a foreign position for him to help us out at the minute, Luke Donnelly hasn’t done a pre-season and he’s a big player for us.

“I’m disappointed about tonight but I look forward to Saturday.”