It was a bitterly cold evening as Scotland begins to thaw out following the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’. The snow, wind and the minus temperatures had saw most Scottish matches being postponed over the weekend, but, The Indrodrill Stadium was deemed playable come Tuesday evening as third faced fourth in SPFL Ladbrokes League One action.
The sides only met on the 17th of February; the match finished 0-0 that afternoon at Gayfield, but, the 300 odd hardy souls who turned up in Clackmannanshire this midweek were pleasantly surprised with the action on show – well, the Wasps were happy enough come full-time, at least!
Michael McKenna had the opening chance of the match, for the visitors, on 2 minutes but his right-footed shot drifted wide of Neil Parry’s goal. However, the deadlock would be broken just 250 seconds later.
Colin Hamilton conceded a corner and as Alloa swung the ball in, Leighton McIntosh was penalised for a hand-ball inside the area, giving Jim Goodwin’s side the chance to open the scoring early on. Gary Fleming stepped up and slotted the ball home as he found the top right-hand corner of the net, leaving David Hutton with no chance.
Bobby Linn then tried his luck from distance but his effort sailed over the bar and harmlessly out for a goal-kick. Then, on 9 minutes, it was 2-0: Hutton conceded a corner, which was swung in by Steven Hetherington; on-loan St Mirren forward Ross Stewart was quick to react to the delivery as he headed home from the middle of the box to double the Wasps’ advantage.
McIntosh tried to amend the deficit with a header of his own but the striker was unable to beat Parry who was up to task on this occasion. At the other end, Stewart was at it again as he pounced to make it three nil with a left-foot shot from close-range following good work by Kevin Cawley, who squared the ball to the former Albion Rovers forward to make it 3-0 to Alloa with only 15 minutes on the clock.
The goals dried up but the chances didn’t as McKenna saw a shot blocked before Blair Yule headed over the bar as the Red Lichties pushed to try get back into the match as the midway point of the first-half approached.
Hutton then saved well from Jordan Kirkpatrick, with the playmaker digging out a chance from outside the penalty area. Play quickly moved to the other end where Parry was called into action again, diving low to save Gavn Swankie’s header to keep the home side’s clean-sheet intact.
On the half-hour mark, Scott Taggart saw his header cleared off the line as the game swung from end-to-end. Kirkpatrick had another long-range strike, this time his effort being blocked before Taggart attempted another header which Hutton managed to claw away.
Linn came close but the former East Fife winger was unable to break Arbroath’s duck on this occasion, but, he was involved on 39 minutes when Parry was finally beaten. McKenna was set up by the tricky and experienced wide-man, with the ex-Berwick Rangers attacker heading home to reduce the deficit to two, six minutes before the interval.
Dick Campbell – and his brother Ian, who was managing the side on Tuesday evening due to a touchline ban picked up by Dick in a recent Scottish Cup tie – would have been angry with his sides start but may have been pleased with the fighting spirit their side had shown to get a foothold back in the match before the break. However, Stewart completed a perfect hat-trick on 42 minutes as the 21-year-old calmly put his right-footed shot past Hutton and into the net to make it 4-1 at half-time for the hosts.
Midfielders David Gold and Scott Martin came on at the break, replacing Leighton McIntosh and Blair Yule as Campbell shook things up as he looked for a much improved second-half showing from the away club.
Thomas O’Brien had an early effort from 25-yards that flew wide of goal in a quieter opening in the final period. But, the scoreline became 4-2 ten minutes into the second-half as Linn fired home from 20-yards to scare Alloa into gear after a slow start by them since the interval.
Taggart tried his luck again with a header, but, he wasn’t to be third time lucky as his close-range attempt flashed wide of Hutton’s goal rather than into the back of the net. Iain Flannigan then came on for PJ Crossan as Goodwin looked for some fresh impetus in attack.
Martin tried his luck from distance but his dig at goal was poor, with the on-loan Hibs man unable to hit the target on this occasion. Then, the Red Lichties made their final substitution of the night as Swankie was replaced by Danny Denholm with just over 20 minutes left on the clock.
Kirkpatrick forced Hutton in action again, with the ex-Dunfermline shot-stopper saving high to the left to deny the on-loan St Mirren midfielder. And, the goalkeeper was forced to work yet again just moments later as Stewart attempted to grab his fourth of the evening but his header was saved well by the busy keeper.
Jon Robertson then replaced Fleming before previous substitute Flannigan fired home to seal all three points for Alloa, with the attack being set up by Cawley. The former Partick Thistle man shooting into the centre of the goal with a crisp left-footed effort, leaving Hutton exposed once again by his defence.
Kris Renton got a late run out as he came on for Stewart late on; he wasn’t to get his name on the scoresheet though as Arbroath ended stronger. Linn set up Denholm who headed past Parry to make the scoreline 5-3, but, it was too little, too late, for the away side as the game eased out to a close following the restart to the delight of the home fans, who saw their side draw level on points with their third placed rivals after Tuesday evening’s win.
FULL-TIME: Alloa Athletic 5-3 Arbroath
1. Neil Parry
2. Scott Taggart
3. Callum Crane
4. Andy Graham
5. Jamie McCart
6. Gary Fleming (Jon Robertson 75′)
7. Kevin Cawley
8. Steven Hetherington
9. Ross Stewart (Kris Renton 83′)
10. Jordan Kirkpatrick
11. Paul Joseph Crossan (Iain Flannigan 64′)
18. Andrew Wilson (GK)
12. Kris Renton
14. Iain Flannigan
15. Jon Robertson
16. Frank McKeown
17. Jim Goodwin
1. David Hutton
2. Ricky Little
3. Colin Hamilton
4. Thomas O’Brien
5. Blair Yule (Scott Martin 45′)
6. Mark Whatley
7. Omar Kader
8. Michael McKenna
9. Leighton McIntosh (David Gold 45′)
10. Gavin Swankie (Danny Denholm 67′)
11. Bobby Linn
20. Ricky Gomes (GK)
12. Danny Denholm
14. David Gold
15. Scott Martin
16. Ryan McCord
17. Josh Skelly
Referee: David Lowe