A goalless draw at Newlandsfield Park on Saturday helped neither Pollok nor Arthurlie in their quest to escape the threat of relegation from the Stagecoach Super Premier League.
With J.C. Hutchison injured, goalkeeper Scott Morrison answered a late S.O.S. call from manager John Richardson to make his first appearance between the sticks since early January. Veteran Robert Burns provided goalkeeping cover on the bench. Morrison was called into action in the second minute, beating away a powerful Mark Blakey free-kick. Stephen McKeown missed the target for ‘Lok with an acrobatic effort in the sixth minute before Brian McGinty came within inches of opening the scoring when he redirected a low Kevin Bradley drive just wide of the upright. John Johnston then shot over from outside the penalty area before a Ryan Deas cross found Steven McKeown, but his header flew narrowly wide of the post. The most controversial moment of the game arrived in the 38th minute when a wild swing of the leg by Michael O’Hara saw Arthurlie’s McKeown fall to the deck inside the penalty area, and referee Graeme Stewart pointed to the penalty spot. After a moment of consultation with his assistant he rescinded the decision, and instead booked the Barrhead man for simulation. The half ended with a driving run from Gavin Lachlan, who passed to McKeown. His flick was met by McGinty, but the ‘Lok striker could only drive the ball wide of the post.
The second half opened in the same manner as the first, with Morrison holding another low Blakey free-kick. Andy Ferguson was then booked before sending a 25-yard volley well off target. David Merriman headed over from a ‘Lie free-kick, then Bradley fired wide from the edge of the penalty box. In the 64th minute Paul Stewart found space behind the home defence, only for Peter McMahon to make a superb last-ditch challenge. Ferguson blazed over from the resultant corner. Ferguson was then left one-on-one with Morrison, but the ‘Lok ‘keeper stood his ground and blocked with his legs. Pollok should have broken the deadlock with 18 minutes left to play when substitute Lee Nichol cut the ball across to fellow replacement Carlo Monti, only for the midfielder to somehow miss the unguarded net from six-yards out. In the 78th minute a period of pinball in the home box ended with a good save from Morrison to deny Stewart, and the ‘keeper reacted well two minutes later to stop a Paul McLeod header. A terrific saving tackle by Jonathan Carter prevented Stewart from giving Arthurlie the lead in stoppage time, but there was still time for ‘Lok to spurn a gilt-edged chance before the end. With three minutes of injury time played Bradley found himself with only the ‘keeper to beat, but with the goal looming he refused to pull the trigger and instead opted to try find the waiting Roddy Hunter, allowing Ross to pounce on a weak pass and save the game.
Next week sees Pollok head to Holm Park to take on Yoker Athletic in round two of the D&D Programmes Central League Cup, with kick-off scheduled for 2pm.
POLLOK: Morrison, Lachlan, O’Hara, Carter, McMahon, Brady, Bradley, McKeown (Hunter 79), McGinty, McQuilken (Monti 53), Essler (Nichol 58). Not used: Kinney, McGregor, Davies, Burns.
ARTHURLIE: Ross, Lundie, Crawford, Merriman, Blakey, Johnston (Chisholm 60), Deas, McKeown, Ferguson (McLeod 77), Stewart, McLay (Muir 87). Not used: Livingstone, Wilson, Walker, Cannon.
POLLOK: Essler (55), McGinty (73)
ARTHURLIE: McKeown (38), Ferguson (49), McLay (52)