Matchday nine of the West of Scotland Premier Division saw Pollok play host to a Troon side who have had a mixed start to the season so far. There was one change from the side who dismantled Penicuik in the Scottish Cup – with Calum Gow unavailable he was replaced in the heart of the defence by Matty Burrows.
With the home side on a great run of form they started with confidence and were ahead inside the first minute. Forde picked up a header from McGregor in the middle of the park and played a beautifully weighted pass out to Gallacher. His low cross cross found the unmarked McKenzie at the back post and he applied a composed finish to a great move for his fifth of the season.
Troon carved out a great opening in the twelfth minute when a long ball was worked out to the right-hand side and when the cross came in it found Shankland in space but he headed wide. Pollok responded with a long ball of their own from the resultant goal kick. Forde showed exceptional skill to control Longmuir’s kick whilst on the ground and from there burrowed his was way into the box before shooting straight at the keeper.
Both teams had long range efforts – Burns shooting over after a good move down the right resulted in a switch of play and Troon shooting straight at Longmuir. The next significant attack saw Troon equalise in the twenty-first minute. Having tried to build from the back they were pressed into a hopeful ball forward. Forrester was deceived by the bounce of the ball as he was pressurised by Shankland who got in behind and finished expertly.
Pollok continued to press forward at every opportunity and more good hold up play by Forde created a crossing chance for Mullen. His swirling cross found McGregor who headed over under pressure.
Troon’s tactic of leaving three players up front whilst defending corners very nearly paid dividends on the half hour mark. A clearance found Shankland who played it in behind for Black. With the opportunity to shoot he decided to try and square it for Gallagher but this allowed Burrows the chance to make a brilliant interception. Black got in again minutes later but couldn’t quite set himself before screwing a shot over the bar.
On the stroke of half-time McKenzie expertly controlled a long ball and had a go from twenty-five yards but it went wide. The teams went in all square at the break.
HALF-TIME: POLLOK 1 – 1 TROON
Pollok started the second half – shooting down the hill – on the front foot. Forde passed to Gallacher who displayed some lovely skills to make room for Burns. His low cross was dangerous but well defended. Christie then curled in a cross which McKenzie looped towards goal. Fisher got a hand to it before gathering.
Pollok then won a series of corners with a Mcgregor effort stopped on the line and a Forrester header deflected over the bar as they looked to regain the lead.
Forde once again picked the ball up in midfield before firing a pass to Gallacher who controlled it and beat his man with an absolutely sublime piece of skill. He then worked his way into the box before seeing his well-struck shot saved by Fisher.
With twenty minutes to go Troon sprung a quick counterattack and Gilroy got in behind. His fierce shot was parried away by Longmuir and Forrester just got a toe to the rebound to prevent any further danger.
A minute later Pollok regained the lead. An attack seemed to be fizzling out as Burrows challenged for the ball and forced it forward to Forde. His touch took him infield and when the ball sat up for him he unleashed a left-foot screamer into the top corner. A goal of the highest quality that we have come to expect from the in-form forward.
The home side then went in search of the goal that would secure the three points. Forde headed a Christie cross against the bar then after a good move down the right a Mullen cross once again found Forde’s head. This time Fisher made a point blank save.
Troon still looked dangerous and as the game went into injury time the Pollok defence were under pressure. A pass out of defence found Anderson who unfortunately slipped, which allowed Troon to switch the play. The ball was then headed into the box and Lok’s old nemesis Shankland was there to find the bottom corner with a low volley on the turn.
Pollok had their chances to secure the three points but Troon will feel they merited a draw in a game which offered plenty of entertainment. Forde’s goal may well have deserved to be a match winner but may yet have the consolation of being goal of the season.
So a brilliant September for the Southsiders ended with a late disappointment, but the unbeaten run now rolls into October – a month which will see another run of cup fixtures with the next league contest not scheduled until the second Saturday in November. The big fixtures keep on coming.
FULL-TIME: POLLOK 2 – 2 TROON
Pollok: McKenzie (1′), Forde (71′)
Troon: Shankland (21′, 90′)
Pollok Man of the Match: Fraser Mullen
Report by Peter Thomson
Photos from James Graham and Finlay Thom
Full match highlights from Mark Donnelly:
Post-match interview with Stewart Maxwell: