Second Division: Paul Hartley aims to push on

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QUEEN of the South may have the title sewn up, but the race for second place, play-off spots and relegation affairs are keeping the Second Division very exciting.

Alloa all but secured a play-off berth with a 2-0 win at Ayr United, which came courtesy of a first-half goal by Ryan McCord and a late counter by Graeme Holmes after a poor clearance by home goalkeeper Graeme Smith.

Wasps manager Paul Hartley said: “We played well again and when we do qualify for the play-offs we will not be relaxing as I want us to finish second. That would be a terrific achievement when you consider where we were a year ago.”

Brechin’s demanding schedule appears to have caught up with them as they went down 3-2 to Stranraer, who moved further away from relegation issues. Craig Malcolm fired the Blues ahead at Stair Park with a penalty, but Derek Carcary’s header and Paul McLean’s drive from the edge of the box had Brechin winning by half-time. Malcolm levelled and Chris Aitken hit home the winner.

Arbroath were staring defeat in the face against Albion Rovers until two goals in the last seven minutes turned defeat into victory.

Pat Walker scored for Rovers, but the Gayfield men struck back. Steven Doris netted with a penalty after Barry Russell was sent off for the third time this season, and Alex Keddie’s last-minute header kept Paul Sheerin’s side a point ahead of Forfar.

The Loons also left it late to keep themselves in the play-off hunt with Gavin Swankie’s winner in their 3-2 success over East Fife coming just eight minutes from time. Gavin Malin hit home from 20 yards to open the scoring on 20 minutes, but the visiting Robert Sloan netted right on half time to level with a well taken-free kick.

Malin gave Forfar the lead again with a drive from outside the area, but it looked like the Fifers had rescued a point through Scott McBride’s close-range header with eleven minutes left before Swankie struck.