Queen of the South?s unbeaten start to the league season ended after fourteen games as Alloa Athletic ran out 1-0 winners in a tightly contested match at a freezing Recreation Park.
The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot on 57 minutes as Ryan McCord slotted home following Ryan McGuffie?s foul. Neither team was able to find the net in open play but did strike the woodwork twice each.
Queens got the better of the opening exchanges and were almost gifted the lead on four minutes as Nicky Clark closed down Scott Bain in the Alloa goal and managed to get his boot to the ball but the goalkeeper?s tackle was strong enough to save his blushes.
After twenty minutes of the away side pressing Alloa decided to have an attack and Kevin Cawley found his way clear of the Queens defence. The striker sent his finish low past Lee Robinson but could not find the net as the ball smacked off the post and ended up in the arms of a grateful Robinson.
Alloa had their tails up and struck the post again minutes later, this time in bizarre fashion. A dangerous attack down the left for Alloa allowed Holmes to cross low to the far post where the ball dropped for Higgins to clear however his clearance smacked off the oncoming Chris Mitchell and looped over a helpless Lee Robinson only to rebound off the top of the post.
Just a minute later and it was Queen of the South?s turn to hit the woodwork as Willie Gibson was given too much room on the edge of the box and his fierce effort beat Bain but cannoned back off the crossbar where Nicky Clark was waiting only to be called offside.
A midfield clash between Paul Burns and Ryan McCord then left the Queens player down and requiring treatment for a knee injury before the former Dunfermline man was stretchered off to be replaced by Kevin Holt.
This stoppage seemed to break the players? rhythm and the game struggled to get back to the tempo of the first half hour but Queens did manage a chance before the half-time whistle.
It came from a Chris Mitchell corner which was met by Mark Durnan in the middle of goal. His goalward header was smashed out from under the crossbar by the Alloa defence and the home side held on until the break.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with Queens having marginally the better of the play and the league leaders threatened through McGuffie?s header five minutes in. Mitchell?s delivery was excellent once again and Ryan McGuffie met the ball well but could only send a looping header towards goal that Bain tipped over.
Then came the match defining moment as Queen of the South failed to clear an Alloa corner. Ryan McGuffie?s swinging boot caught Martin Grehan and the referee pointed to the spot. It was unfortunate for McGuffie as he was looking to clear the ball but there were no complaints from the away side. Ryan McCord stepped up for Alloa and stroked the ball into the bottom right corner giving Robinson no chance.
Immediately after that Queens attack and Nicky Clark found his way clear in the left channel and his cross to the feet of Reilly saw the youngster take a touch before rattling the crossbar from 12 yards.
Into the final fifteen minutes and Allan Johnston threw on Kevin Smith and David Hopkirk to try to find a way back into the match but it was the home side who had the better of the chances towards the end as Queens threw players forward.
Firstly Ben Gordon headed inches wide from a right-wing corner before an Alloa counter attack saw Kevin Cawley with a wonderful chance to finish the match but he lost his composure and hit his shot well wide.
The final whistle signalled the end of Queens thirteen match unbeaten run in the league and saw victors Alloa close the gap at the top of the table to six points.
Two defeats in a row for Queens will surely test the character of Allan Johnston?s men after their excellent start to the season. Brechin City are next up at Palmerston on Saturday and Johnston will be keen to get back to winning ways to maintain the Doonhamers? stranglehold on the Second Division title.