After the Scottish National team gave the country a boost with two Hampden victories, football on the south side of Glasgow continued with Troon visiting Newlandsfield for match day twenty seven of the West of Scotland Premiership.
Pollok manager, Stewart Maxwell, made two changes to the team narrowly beaten by Darvel the previous Friday. Sean Burns and Kenny Barr dropped out to be replaced by Craig Menzies and Adam Forde. Fraser Mullen also switched from right to left back.
Unusually Pollok were kicking up the slope in the first half but it did not take them long to get going in an attacking sense. A free kick on the left was superbly whipped in by Mullen and Rumsby was on hand to bundle the ball home from a couple of yards with only two minutes on the clock.
Docherty then burst down the right and fired over a low cross. Forde tried to leave it to Buchanan but seemed to distract him and he fired over from a good position.
If the home support thought they were in for a comfortable afternoon that notion was quickly eradicated. Another Pollok corner in the fourth minute saw a Buchanan pass intercepted and Troon’s policy of leaving three players up the park reap dividends. Josh Black played a beautiful pass through the middle to namesake Ben who applied a dinked finish over the onrushing Longmuir.
Pollok resumed their attacks and Mullen fired a great ball out to Christie in the seventh minute to switch the play. Christie jinked past his fullback and delivered a dangerous cross that was well defended.
Troon then took the lead. There seemed little trouble as Longmuir comfortably clutched a header into the box. In looking to distribute quickly he rolled the ball out to Lyon who was facing his own goal. Lyon realised he was being pressurised and passed the ball back to Longmuir. In looking to clear long he didn’t connect as well as he would have liked and hit the ball straight into Josh Black. As Black moved in on goal Brownlie got in a great tackle but the ball was still loose and Black just beat Longmuir to it before turning and rolling it into the empty net.
Troon held on to the lead for slightly longer than Pollok had done but it was two all after twenty-two minutes. Another superb switch of play by Mullen found Christie on the run. He chested it past a defender and burst into the box to apply a classy finish into the bottom corner.
Pollok then went in search of a third goal with some enterprising attacking play. Brownlie, Docherty – after tireless harassing of the Troon defence – Esplin and Forde all having efforts on goal but all missing the target.
After those missed chances the home side found themselves behind again in the thirty–sixth minute. A dangerous free kick in from the left saw Buchanan tug Jamieson and the referee pointed to the spot. Longmuir got a hand to Wilson’s penalty but it was well–struck and accurate as it found the corner of the net.
After a speculative long-range volley from Forde, Pollok almost equalised with the last action of a pulsating first half. A Mullen free-kick from the right was headed goal–wards by Rumsby but it clipped the top of the bar.
Half Time: Pollok 2 – 3 Troon
The home side maintained their attacking intent at the start of the second half. After a corner was only partially cleared Lyon headed a pass out to Mullen who flicked on to Christie. His cross found Forde unmarked and he thumped home a ferocious volley to make it three apiece with forty eight minutes on the clock.
Troon then had two golden chances in the space of two minutes to regain the lead. First Josh Black saw a shot well blocked but the rebound fell perfectly for him but his shot took a nick off a defender on its’ way over the bar. From the corner the ball was partially cleared but eventually it was swung back in with the Pollok defence looking for offside. The assistant referee’s flag remained steadfastly at his side and Wilson was left with a gilt-edged chance which he skied over the bar.
Pollok regained the lead in the sixty-fourth minute. With the ball bobbling about the midfield Menzies produced a back heel which may have been meant for Esplin but found Forde. He played a superb reverse pass to his strike partner Docherty who finished with aplomb in off the far post.
Both teams continued to attack with Troon seeing a glancing header from a corner whistle just over and then Forde had a thunderous strike from twenty-five yards go inches wide with Burgess rooted to the spot. Christie then found Burgess’ midriff with a shot after an exquisite one two with Forde. Burgess was beaten in Pollok’s next dangerous attack after Forde fired Gary McCann’s cutback goal–wards but his effort was cleared off the line.
With Pollok only one ahead Troon continued to believe and pushed men forward at every opportunity but the Pollok rear-guard were playing better than in the first half. With a couple of minutes to go a quick throw by Longmuir found Christie. He drove down the field before flicking a pass into Barr whose shot was tipped round the post.
After Menzies had a word with his refereeing namesake about the time he was adding on the referee seemed reluctant to blow his whistle and allowed play to continue. Pollok were therefore able to launch one last attack and after Barr found Forde with a lobbed pass his cross found Stuart McCann who headed home from six yards out.
Eight different players had found the net in a pulsating encounter which had seen an abundance of attacking threat. Perhaps not a game either defence will remember with great fondness but a merited three points for the home side in the end. And no-one will have left the ground bemoaning a lack of entertainment.
Sponsor’s Man of the Match: Adam Forde
The Pollok forward was at the heart of much of Pollok’s attacking play and his goal early in the second half got the comeback started. Also chipped in with two assists in a decisive performance.
Match Report by Peter Thomson
Photos by James Graham and Nathan Bonnar