A 1-1 draw against Renfrew at Western Park on Wednesday evening was enough to secure a 5-1 aggregate victory for Pollok that keeps them in the Stagecoach Super Premier League for next season.
Both sides made two changes from the first leg, with Renfrew bringing in Richie Chang and Colin Forbes for Ross Currie and Alan Prentice, whilst Pollok added Lee Nichol and Paul McQuilken at the expense of Darren Brady and Tommy Nolan. ‘Lok could have put the tie beyond doubt as early as the second minute when a Nichol cross was headed back across goal by Michael O’Hara to McQuilken, but he could only smash the ball over from eight yards out. In the eighth minute David Gordon sent over a cross for Chris Zok, but the striker was unable to find the target. Another dangerous Gordon cross was then headed away by Graeme McLaren for a corner kick. Willie Sawyers then cut the ball back to Anton Heffron, but his shot narrowly cleared the crossbar from 12 yards out. McQuilken tried his luck from 40 yards out in the 21st minute, but Danny McLeay was able to clutch the ball comfortably. Zok then glanced a header narrowly wide from a throw-in before McQuilken sent a half-volley over from the edge of the six-yard box. O’Hara was next to threaten with a good strike from ten yards out that McLeay pushed around the post for a corner. Billy Jones then headed wide from a free-kick, and the half finished with a fierce Peter McMahon drive that McLeay touched away for another ‘Lok corner.
The opening minute of the second half saw Pollok squander a great opportunity to take the lead when a two-on-one break saw Carlo Monti tee up Jamie Docherty, but the former St. Anthony’s man could only aim a wild swing at the ball and the chance was gone. Renfrew came close to opening the scoring in the 48th minute when Zok fired the ball across goal to Jamie Crowhurst, but his shot from three yards out was blocked on the line by the perfectly positioned Gavin Lachlan. Crowhurst then saw a shot headed away by McMahon before a Gordon cross almost dipped underneath Scott Morrison’s crossbar. Graeme Mort flicked wide from a deep free-kick in the 56th minute, and sixty seconds later his side fell behind. Monti showed great skill and tenacity to wriggle free of his marker on the right and fire a dangerous ball across goal that FRASER CAMPBELL could only redirect into his own net. The hosts responded with an Adam Moore overhead kick that cannoned off the post before Morrison clawed away the danger. The scores on the night were levelled in the 62nd minute when Zok headed a free-kick back across goal to an unmarked ANTON HEFFRON, who planted a header beyond the reach of Morrison. Three minutes later substitute Clinton Maxwell crossed for Moore, but he failed to make good contact with the ball. McLeay had to look alert to gather at the feet of Jones as ‘Lok pushed for a winner, and Jones could have sealed the match in injury time with a strike from a Monti cut-back, but he was unable to keep his effort down. In the first minute of injury time Renfrew were reduced to ten men when Colin Steven showed a straight red card to Chris Zok after the hitman had led with an elbow in a challenge near halfway.
The final whistle came as a relief to the Pollok support, bringing to an end one of the least successful seasons of recent times for their side. It also marked the beginning of a close season that presents John Richardson with the challenge of building a squad capable of better next term.
RENFREW: McLeay, Cameron (McDade 55), Mort, Campbell, Heffron, Crowhurst (Maxwell 52), Chang (Moore 55), Forbes, Sawyers, Zok, Gordon. Not used: Currie, Quigley.
POLLOK: Morrison, Lachlan, McMahon, Carter (Brady 46), McLaren, Jones, Nichol (Hepburn 66), McQuilken, Monti, Docherty (McGinty 53), O’Hara. Not used: Nolan, Kinney, Hunter, Black.
RENFREW: Zok (28), Crowhurst (36), Sawyers (50), Heffron (54)
RENFREW: Zok (90+1)
RENFREW: Heffron (62)
POLLOK: Campbell (57 o.g.)