Sandwiched between cup games, Pollok ventured to East Ayrshire to take on Hurlford United on match day eight of the West of Scotland Premier Division. Hurlford started the day three points behind Pollok but with a game in hand.
There was one change to the starting line up from the Scottish Cup victory over Benburb as Ross Lindsay came in for Kyle Hutton, whilst manager Stewart Maxwell returned to the dug-out after suspension.
Pollok started brightly and won a couple of early corners but found themselves behind after five minutes. A ball over the top turned the Pollok defence and Mullen did brilliantly to back heel the ball to Kerr. He hit a curling shot which Longmuir saved but as Sean Burns slid to block the rebound, the ball hit his hand. Lewis Morrison made no mistake from the spot with a low shot into the corner.
Pollok quickly went about the task of finding an equaliser. A good passing move down the left involving Lindsay, Gallacher and Burns ending with a dangerous low cross into the near post. Adam Forde was on the end of it and his low shot was brilliantly saved by the right boot of Wilson.
Although the corner came to nothing, Pollok were quickly back on the attack. A long ball from Calum Gow was flicked on by Marc McKenzie to Forde. He held the ball up before slipping it back inside to his strike partner who tried to guide it into the top corner but it went inches over.
The equaliser looked inevitable, and it duly arrived in the fifteenth minute as McKenzie found the net against his former club. He and Gallacher pressured the Hurlford defence into a mistake and when the ball broke free, McKenzie curled a right foot shot into the bottom corner to deservedly pull Pollok level.
The game then went into a bit of a lull with a couple of interruptions for injuries affecting the flow of proceedings. Hurlford managed a couple of headers from set pieces, but neither were on target as the away side continued to look the more threatening.
With half an hour gone Christie won the ball in midfield and passed to Gallacher. He made ground before cutting inside but his shot was straight at the keeper. A few minutes later, a free-kick was touched to the side to allow Mullen a strike at goal but his well struck effort was deflected inches wide.
Just before half time Hurlford were afforded some space in the midfield and Whittaker produced a venomous strike from thirty-five yards which Longmuir did well to push away.
The second half started with the Southsiders on the attack. Ryan McGregor played an intelligent ball over the top for Gallacher to chase. As he made his way towards goal Anderson did superbly to hold him up but the ball broke to McKenzie whose first-time strike was cleared off the line.
Pollok’s next attack saw a free-kick floated into the box. Gow headed it across the goal, Forrester flicked it on and Forde got a strike in which was brilliantly blocked by Wilson.
With the away side very much the dominant force in the match they took the lead in the sixty-sixth minute. A Burns throw-in was played back to him by McGregor and his first-time, curling cross was dispatched by Forde. It might not have been an overhead kick but it was an exquisite finish from a striker in fine form.
Grant Anderson and Shug Kerr entered the fray, and and Pollok continued to get behind the Hurlford defence on a regular basis. One such attack saw Kerr throughon the inside right channel before passing inside to Mcgregor who passed to Forde, whose shot was well blocked. From the resultant corner Gow flicked on and McGregor headed home to give Pollok a two-goal cushion for the remaining seven minutes.
Hurlford never stopped trying to get back into the game and saw one shot go wide before Longmuir saved a free-kick. From that save he quickly rolled the ball out to Mullen whose searching ball released substitute Chris Duff. His first touch took him past the keeper but it was too heavy and he just failed to keep the ball in play.
Pollok’s final chance came in injury time. A Kerr cross was partially cleared and fell to McGregor who produced an incisive pass into the box for Anderson. He steadied himself before shooting across goal. Wilson got down well to get his fingertips to it, taking it agonisingly out of reach for the sliding Kerr.
Following the smashing of the Blair Park hoodoo in February, this was another merited win for the away side. The early setback was brushed off and in the end the victory could have been by a larger margin after a thoroughly impressive all-round performance.
Hurlford – Lewis Morrison (P)(5′)
Pollok – McKenzie (15′), Forde (66′), McGregor (83′)
Man of the Match – Sean Burns
Report by Peter Thomson
Photos from Finlay Thom
Full match highlights from Mark Donnelly
Stewart Maxwell’s Post-Match Interview: