Pollok 2 GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 2
Scorers : Howie, Allan
With leading marksmen Scott Houston and Darren Johnstone both unavailable for selection Craig Bingham was given the lone striker role. Glens welcomed new signing Steven McGregor from Stenhousemuir to the centre of defence. Pollok too were forced into making changes with Robert Burns replacing Ian Wilson in goal, who was seriously injured in a car accident last week. Of course this was also the first opportunity for the Glens to face their old captain Joe Carruth, who after a shaky start with the club has settled in at the heart of the 'Lok defence.
Pollok knew that with all other top teams in the Premier League involved in OVD Scottish Junior Cup business next week (Lok were knocked out in the 1st Round by Arthurlie) victory today and victory over Cumnock (another Cup casualty) next week would see them climb to the top of the league. However, Robert Burns would also be aware that the Glens were looking to complete an Ayrshire treble over Pollok in the league at Newlandsfield and I'm sure I heard him recite this wee ditty before kick-off....
First; thae wee sleekit strikers of the ‘Nock
Without reply pit twae past the ‘Lok,
Second; a gemme tae the daith was fought,
But up popped Robbo, 1-2 to the ‘Bot;
Third, we face the Sweet Afton Glens,
My prediction is we will win on pens!
It was the Glens that were first to threaten when Craig Bingham shrugged off a challenge by Carruth but his run towards the box came to a premature end with a saving tackle from Heaton. Minutes later an Agnew header came close and then some uncertainty between Burns and his back-four saw Bingham pick up the ball and drive to the bye-line, but there were no takers for the cut-back.
Pollok weathered the early mini-storm and Burns' nerves were soon settled when the Lok took the lead in the 16th minute. The referee adjudged that a long ball to the back post had scliffed off the back of Liam Paterson before going out of play, and from the resultant corner, Derek Paterson headed home a free header at the near post. Within minutes Pollok extended their lead in spectacular fashion. Frankie Haggerty appeared to be boxed in tight on the left hand touch line and with few options he launched a ball so high that it seemed to be heading for the roof of the tower block in the distance; but down it came catching Garry Matthews unaware and into the back of the net.
The game then settled into an evenly match affair, Steven McGregor was having an excellent debut and Willie Howie was immense in the middle of the park and Craig Bingham was putting in a tireless shift up front. The Glens failed to capitilise on a number of set pieces that they won on the outskirts of the Pollok box. Whilst on another day better finishing from the 'Lok front men could have saw them extend their lead even farther, although McGregor must take great credit for a last ditch tackle on Friels who not for the first time seemed to take an age before shooting for goal. In any case 2-0 was more than ample reward for Pollok's over all contibution in the first half. Half-Time Pollok 2 Glenafton 0
Striker Paul Deeney came on to replace defender Peter McAninch, a clear indication that the Glens felt that they still could take something fom the game. Howie continued to dominate in midfield winning his own tackles or picking up the scraps from other 50-50 tackles, and cleverly bringing Stevie Agnew more into the game. The Glens were now beginning to peg Pollok back and it came as no surprise when they clawed a goal back, half way through the second-half. Pressing forward into a packed Pollok penalty box, Agnew was crudely brought to the ground and the referee was perfectly placed and pointed to the spot. Burns managed to get a hand to Willie Howie's kick but the ball bounced off the under-side of the bar (bard!) and into the net.
The Glens then introduced new signing 19 year-old striker Zander Allan for Brian Miller and in the 78th minute he grabbed the equaliser with a cracking volley after good work down the left by Stevie Agnew. Understandably the home fans became increasingly frustrated and concerns over cracks appearing in fortress Newlandsfield were further reinforced when a brave referee turned down loud claims for a penalty with 5 minutes to go. By now Pollok were creating chance after chance through McLaughlan and Friels but these were either broken down by the excellent central defensive pair of Paterson and McGregor or by Gary Matthew, who must have dived low to save well at both his posts in a least half a dozen occasions. In the dying seconds the ref refused to 'bottle-it 'and turned down another forlorn plea for a Pollok penalty.On reflection I am sure our friends from the cold North would find it hard to deny the Glens a share of the spoils.
Full time Pollok 2 Glenafton 2
Glenafton: Matthews, McAninch (Deeney), Paterson, McGregor, Stewart; Blair, Howie, Murphy (Chiesa) ; Miller(Allan), Bingham, Agnew
Where's the ball ?
Willie Howies scores from the spot (that's the ball hitting the ref's hand on the way in!)
Captain Willie Howie - in charge again
"Vezza the Barber" has nothing on Brian Miller as he cuts past Carruth and Heaton
"What's that Joe?" - 'Clap your hands if you're a Glens man!"
Best wishes to Ian Wilson for a speedy recovery - one of the games true gentleman!
All the best.