After a battle against the frost and a delayed kick-off an
expectant crowd gathered for the Southside El Classico. It was
match-day twenty-three of the West of Scotland Premiership
and it was third top versus third bottom in the table. Pollok v
Maxwell made three enforced changes to the side who had
won convincingly the previous week. Sideserf and Duff missed
out due to injury and Esplin due to suspension. They were
replaced by Brownlie, Gary McCann and Fraser.
As is the norm Pollok were kicking down the slope in the first
half and started on the front foot. An early booking for McNeill
for a foul on Stuart McCann allowed Forde to swing in a
dangerous free-kick which Rumsby headed back across goal. It
was just out of reach of a stretching Stuart McCann and went
wide of the far post.
Arthurlie started to come more into the game and had the first
shot on target. Then in the eighteenth minute they were
awarded a penalty. Longmuir dived into block on the bye-line
with the ball almost definitely going out of play. He caught the
striker as he attempted to cross the ball and the referee
pointed to the spot. Former Pollok stalwart McGregor stepped
up but Longmuir saved it with a low dive to his left.
Pollok saw a Christie effort curled wide and had appeals for a
penalty when a Stuart McCann effort was blocked at close
range by an arm.
At the other end McGregor passed up another good chance
when he found himself unmarked at the back post but his
diving header went inches wide. Burns then had a shot on
target at the other end but it was straight at the keeper.
Pollok carved out their clearest chance of the first half in the
forty-third minute. Lyon won a corner which was swung in by
Christie. It was flicked on and Brownlie drove in a low shot
which was well saved by the keeper’s feet.
The away side started the second half in the ascendancy and a
corner offered them a clear sight at goal. The shot was well hit
but Rumsby did well to deflect it wide for another corner.
Longmuir then had to save a long range free-kick.
Just after the hour mark Pollok very nearly took the lead. A
Fraser free-kick into the box was half cleared to Christie whose
low shot squirmed under the keeper but he was able to recover
just in time to grab the ball on the goal line.
Pollok’s next attack saw Stuart McCann taken out once more by
McNeill and he picked up his second yellow. It didn’t take the
home side long to make their numerical advantage count. First
Lyon did brilliantly to set up Stuart McCann whose shot was
cleared off the line and then in the next attack Christie was
fouled in the box as he cut back inside. The referee had no
hesitation in pointing to the spot. Fraser stepped up and fairly
thumped it right down the middle. The keeper hadn’t dived but
he was beaten by the sheer venom in the spot-kick.
After a lengthy delay for a facial injury to McGregor – who was
getting a mixed reception from his former supporters and was
having a typically eventful game having played right-midfield,
centre-half and up front as well as missing the penalty – the
home side managed the game beautifully before adding to the
scoreline in the final seconds.
Substitutes Docherty and Nelson combined perfectly down the
left and Nelson side-footed Docherty’s cut-back into the net.
The very late addition to the home side’s lead did not allow
time for a debut appearance by substitute goalkeeper Ryan
Dakhil. Maybe one day Ryan.
In the end it was a merited three points to the home side and
much of the credit must go to the ground staff and volunteers
who got the pitch in such good shape whilst numerous other
games were being called off. For Pollok the next few weeks will
see them take on teams much closer to them in the league
table. For Arthurlie it will be a continuing battle against
relegation. We wish them luck.