Stagecoach West Region Premier Division
Saturday 12th January , Loch Park, New Cumnock
GLENAFTON ATHLETIC 0 (0)
POLLOK 1 (0)
Glenafton 0 Pollok 1
For the second time in seven weeks Pollok left Loch Park with all the spoils and left Glenafton to lick their wounds having taken nothing from either encounter after having given so much. Little consolation neither that as in the Scottish Junior Cup tie the winning goal proved to be a worthy match winner.
The first half evolved into three phases of play. Although Glenafton started brightly in the glorious sunshine and enjoyed much of the early possession their play lacked the bite of the “blast of Janwar win’” that cut across the park and keeper Stephen McNeil was rarely tested. The initiative passed to Pollok who conjured up a couple of telling runs down the left but on each occasion the final ball across the face of goal was easily mopped up by the Afton defence.
The home side dominated the closing twenty minutes of the half beginning with a Gus Cochrane corner-kick which Steve Reilly was on hand to usher behind at the back post with Glen Mitchell waiting to pounce. Bobby Colligan’s pace saw him skip past former Glenafton defenders Reilly and Kevin McBride into the box but his shot on the run sailed just high and wide of target. Still on the front foot the Glens carved out a collection of corner-kicks. Typically, either Mitchell or Ryan McChesney came out on top in the ensuing aerial contests, the latter coming close to breaking the deadlock only for his header to crash off the top of the bar three minutes before the break. HT Glens 0 Pollok 0
Two minutes into the new half and Glen Mitchell’s bullet header from a Cochrane corner-kick was met by Paul McKenzie at the back post where he shook of the shackles of Ross Hepburn to try and prod the ball home, however with McNeil grounded the alert Paul McQuilken stepped in and cleared the danger. Four minutes later Pollok won back to back corners kicks the latter of which ended with Ross Dunlop’s drive whizzing over Semple’s bar.
Play raged from end to end albeit with clear cut chances thin on the ground. On the hour mark a Pollok corner caused panic in the Glens’ six yard box, only for McChesney to do enough to prevent Carlo Monti from getting enough purchase to power the ball home and the striker’s shot was cleared on the line by John Dempster. Three minutes later another ‘Lok corner saw McChesney and Mitchell combine to block Reilly’s effort and Dempster and Craig McEwan double team to prevent Jonathan Carter battering home the loose ball.
Glenafton responded well and on 64 minutes a Paul Murphy header was gathered by Dempster, twelve yards out with his back to goal and McBride and McQuilken for company. The big striker wheeled and drilled the ball for goal but McNeil was in the right place at the right time to parry the shot with both hands and gather the loose ball safely. Two minutes later the keeper could only look on in relief as a McChesney header from a corner looped over his head and over the bar. Soon after McNeil had to be on his toes to claw away a Cochrane corner from right under the bar and then look on as McKenzie came within a whisker of making contact with another deadly corner from Cochrane.
With 15 minutes to go a brave McNeil raced from his line to clutch the ball and deny the incoming Dempster from getting a toe poke on a cross from Murphy. Two minutes later the keeper punched a corner kick from the head of Dempster and in a flash Dunlop launched the loose ball up the left wing only for a promising Pollok break to be ended by Craig Potter at the cost of a booking.
Back came Glenafton and inevitably the corner count continued to mount. With eight minutes to go Mitchell got between Carter and Reilly to win another header from a Cochrane delivery but McNeill’s goal remained secure as the ball bulleted over the bar. On 85 minutes another Glenafton attack, down the left flank, was broken down at the corner flag and play quickly switched by Pollok to their left flank where the ball was gathered by substitute Tony Fraser and taken upfield at pace. On the edge of the box Fraser fed McQuilken on the overlap and he instantly cut the ball across the face of goal for the incoming Ryan McArdle at the back post only for Cochrane to intercept and clear the ball skywards. Hepburn was on hand to head the descending ball into the path of McCardle who took a touch with his right foot before swivelling and blasting the ball home with his left from on or near the penalty spot – a quite stunning finish.
Gutted Glenafton brought on Gareth Armstrong for Craig Potter and although they managed to breach the visitors box on a couple of occasions McNeil’s net remained empty. FT Glens 0 Pollok 1
Glenafton: Semple; Potter (Armstrong), McChesney, G. Mitchell, McEwan; McKenzie, Murphy, D.Mitchell, Cochrane; Dempster, Colligan. Subs. McKillen, Menzies, Campbell, Dunsmuir (gk)
Pollok: McNeil, Dunlop, McBride, Reilly, Carter, McGinty, McKay (McArdle), McQuilken, Hepburn, Monti, Mills (Fraser). Subs. Millar, McMahon, Black (gk)