THE only way is up. After Saturday’s 4-1 defeat away to Ayr United, Alloa dropped to the bottom of the Championship for the first time this year.

Winless in 2021, Alloa are now out of both cup competitions and at the bottom of the table. Up can be the only option.

At a freezing cold and quiet Somerset Park last Saturday, the Alloa line-up looked promising. Liam Dick returned to the team, as did Alan Trouten, who did something wonderful, but more on that later.

New signing Innes Cameron was to make his debut against the team he had spent the first part of the season with and was hoping to show them what they were missing.

Barely six minutes had passed when Ayr took the lead and Alloa's defensive frailties were highlighted once again.

An early corner for the Honest Men wasn’t dealt with and the ball dropped to Tom Walsh, who was on the edge of the box. The ball bounced perfectly for him and he hit it well, with the strike somehow missing every player in the box and arrowing into Neil Parry’s bottom left corner.

Four minutes later, Alloa equalised. Everyone on social media has now, surely, seen this goal on their timeline more than once.

A textbook foul in the middle of the centre circle. Alan Trouten’s in his own half. Ray Grant sets the ball and takes a few steps back. Trouten steps up to strike it. His teammates aren’t even looking, they’re still making their way into the box, expecting a long ball they can attack.

It’s too late. Before they’ve made it into the box, Trouten’s beat Viljami Sinisalo. The keeper won’t want to see it again. Ever. Alloa’s goal of the season has been decided.

Unfortunately, that was to be the high point of an extremely disappointing day. Sometimes a good performance doesn’t deserve the poor result. On Saturday, this goal deserved a win. The goal deserved three points. Ayr United had other ideas.

Two minutes later, Alloa should have taken the lead. Steven Hetherington’s pass was poked towards Kevin Cawley by Cameron. Cawley managed to find Dick on the left, and he floated the ball in with his right foot. Somehow Stefan Scougall found himself alone in the box but he could only head the ball into Sinisalo’s arms. Anywhere else on target and it would have been a goal.

Just before the half-hour mark, Ayr regained the advantage. Walsh’s cross found Luke McCowan on the edge of Alloa’s box. With Dick closing down on him, he dropped the shoulder and opened his body up, curving the ball past Dick, Grant and Nicky Jamieson and into Parry’s far post.

Alloa had a glorious chance to level the score 10 minutes into the second half. Trouten’s throw-in found Scougall, who dragged two players out wide and then played a cute reverse pass into the path of Edin Lynch. Making a rare start, Lynch drove towards the by-line but didn’t see Trouten waiting for the cutback and instead fired it across the six-yard box.

The severity of the missed chance was reiterated minutes later when Ayr doubled their advantage. Jamieson foolishly attempted to backheel the ball out of danger instead of clearing it, and the deflection fell into the path of Michael Miller. Racing towards goal, he was tackled from behind by Hetherington and the home side were given a penalty. Aaron Muirhead made no mistake from 12 yards with Parry diving the other way.

Eight minutes later Ayr put the game to bed. Walsh got the better of Lynch on the left wing and his cross once again found McCowan who got a yard on Liam Dick and volleyed it past a helpless Parry.

The result leaves Alloa bottom of the table, two points behind Arbroath. They're yet to win in 2021. The season has reached the halfway point and there’s plenty of football still to be played. February will be a huge month for the Wasps, with home games against Queen of the South and Arbroath either side of an away trip to Inverness to begin with.

Facing off against the three sides above Alloa in the table, the importance of these matches cannot be stressed enough. Whatever happens in Inverness, it’s surely imperative Alloa don’t lose their home games. Otherwise, they face an incredibly tough uphill battle.

ALLOA: Parry, Lynch, Jamieson, Graham, Dick, Hetherington, Grant, Trouten, Cawley, Scougall (Buchanan), Cameron. UNUSED SUBS: Wright, Robertson, Connelly, Thomson, O’Donnell, Murray.