Pollok returned to the Scottish Junior Cup after a brief hiatus as a guest club with a second round tie against Dalry Thistle. With torrential rain having put paid to the original fixture, the match was played under the Newlandsfield lights on a Tuesday evening.
There were four changes from the win over Camelon the previous Friday – Scott Forrester, Ross Lindsay, Adam Forde and Marc McKenzie all dropped to the bench as Matty Burrows, Jay Nelson, Hugh Kerr and Evan Maley were given an opportunity to impress from the start.
The home side started sluggishly and Dalry had a effort from distance go wide before a corner and free-kick into the box were comfortably cleared. In the twelfth minute a cross from the right was volleyed goalwards but deflected over Ben Fry’s goal.
With a quarter of an hour gone Pollok took the lead against the run of play. Some crisp, first time passes across the pitch gave Darren Christie some space to fire in a cross. The defender got a foot to the ball but it fell for Nelson who took a lovely touch before applying a composed finish into the far corner for his third goal of the season.
Calum Gow had to make a last-ditch sliding tackle to prevent a one on one with Fry as Dalry continued to look threatening on the break. At the other end Kerr headed over the bar from a deep Christie cross.
Just before the half hour Nelson jinked past Mugwanda in the middle of the park and let fly from thirty yards with he ball crashing back off the crossbar. Kerr retrieved it and set up Chris Duff for a cross which found Maley but he could only direct his shot wide. Pollok were now in the ascendancy and a Maley pass out wide allowed Christie to run at the Dalry defence. He cut inside but his shot was just lacking in necessary power or accuracy and Fairns saved.
Dalry equalised in the thirty-sixth minute and it came from a Pollok corner. As they threatened to break, Burrows launched himself into a crunching tackle on the half-way line. He took out man and ball but it broke kindly for Dalry and one simple pass put Jamie Catlow in behind the recovering Pollok back line. He expertly rounded Fry and passed the ball into the net.
In the lead up to half time Pollok managed three headers on target. Duff twice from Christie crosses and Gow from a Mullen corner. Unfortunately all three were too near the keeper and therefore comfortably saved.
HALF-TIME: POLLOK 1 – 1 DALRY THISTLE
The first real threat on either goal in the second half came after a miscommunication between Fry and Gow. The centre-half heading up in the air when Fry could have gathered the ball. The shooting chance presented was squandered though as it went wide of the target.
Pollok were starting to dominate territory but Dalry were looking dangerous on the break. Although the home side were getting plenty of crosses in and attempts on goal few of them were causing Fairns any real trouble until a flowing passing move ended with a low Forde strike which was pushed away for a corner.
The Dalry keeper was then forced to up his game when he clawed a Kerr header away after a curling Christie cross. If that save was brilliant, then his next one was even better. An Andy Gallacher strike from outside the box was heading for the bottom corner until Fairns got his right hand to the ball to push it round the post. Forde then had a chance from inside the six-yard box from a low Christie cross but couldn’t make the proper connection and it was easily saved.
With one minute left of the ninety, Dalry took the lead – long pass from midfield evaded Forrester and Adain Catlow got in behind. Fry managed to block his first effort, but the ball hit Catlow and fell kindly for him to roll the ball into the empty net whilst lying on the deck.
Into injury time – and there was to be plenty of it – Pollok threw everything at it, and in the ninety-sixth minute they found an equaliser. Christie drove into the box and fizzed in a low drive. It was saved but Ryan McGregor was on hand to fire home the rebound from close range. With injury time lasting into the 101st minute, Pollok still had time to see a strong penalty claim denied and a Kerr header saved. Dalry saw Aidan Catlow sent off for an altercation with Forrester.
So after a pulsating second half it was two apiece and straight to penalties. The first four for each side were dispatched. Fry being sent the wrong way for each of Dalry’s efforts whilst Kerr’s just squeezed in after Fairns got a hand to it. With Dalry’s fifth penalty, Love hit the bar allowing Forde the chance to win it, and although his penalty was well struck, Fairns’ outstretched hand managed to push it away.
In sudden death the quality of the penalties continued to be exceptional. Gallacher, Lindsay and Burns all scoring confidently for Pollok in response to successful Dalry spot kicks. Etherson then scored to make it 8-7 meaning Forrester had to score to keep Pollok in the cup. His penalty to the keeper’s left was saved and Dalry celebrated. However the drama was not over. The assistant referee signaled there had been an infringement and after a protest the Dalry manager was sent off. Forrester went the other way with his retaken attempt but this was also saved and Dalry were through to the next round 8-7 on penalties.
FULL TIME: POLLOK 2 – 2 DALRY THISTLE (7-8 ON PENALTIES)
Pollok: Nelson (15′), McGregor (90′ + 6)
Dalry Thistle: J. Catlow (36′), A. Catlow (89′)
Pollok Man of the Match: Jay Nelson
Report by Peter Thomson
Photos from James Graham & Finlay Thom
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM MARK DONNELLY:
POST-MATCH INTERVIEW WITH STEWART MAXWELL: