The second round of the Scottish Cup saw Pollok entertain Gala Fairydean Rovers of the Borders at Newlandsfield in a first ever competitive meeting between the two clubs. Gala had beaten Strathspey Thistle 8-2 in the previous round and sat mid-table in the Lowland League.
The home side made two changes to the eleven who started the previous week’s win over Petershill. Gow and McKenzie returned in place of Burrows and Nelson.
Pollok took to the pitch in their new purple away kit and did not take long to open the scoring. A Mullen free-kick evaded McGregor but came back off Gallacher into McGregor’s path. He applied a lovely finish on the volley to get the home side off to the perfect start.
Given both teams’ scoring records so far this season, it was little surprise that Gala equalised. A sweeping move from right to left and back to front ending with Reid cutting inside Mullen and rifling in a shot which found the top corner via a deflection off McGregor.
Almost immediately Pollok should have retaken the lead. The kick-off was passed back to Mullen who cut inside Reid before sending a searching ball into the box. Gallacher’s first touch was wof the highest quality and sent him one on one with the keeper. He tried to pass it into the net and Cantley managed to save. Forde fired the rebound goalwards and forced Cantley into a superb save with his foot.
The chances kept on coming and after good work by McGregor and Christie a cross to the back post found McKenzie whose header was well saved. A surging run down the left wing by Gallacher got the team quickly up the park. A pass inside to Forde was helped on towards Christie but was intercepted. It fell to McGregor whose shot sliced wide.
Shots continued to rain in and crosses were fired across both boxes but the next telling action was a red card for Gala’s Kyle Semple. With half an hour on the clock he picked up the second of two quick-fire yellows for a shirt pull.
Being a man down didn’t alter the way Gala approached the game and they were level on the stroke of half-time. Pollok lost possession in their own half and when the ball was played into the box Gow lunged in and conceded a penalty. Galbraith found the bottom corner from twelve yards to make it two apiece.
Five minutes into the second half Pollok produced a stunning move. A long ball from Longmuir was expertly flicked on by McGregor to Christie. He beat his man for pace and whipped in an excellent cross which Forde headed back across the keeper. Unfortunately it came down off the bar on to the line before being cleared. Christie got in a few minutes later but could not get full power on his shot and it was saved.
Some nice interchanging of positions and passing between Mullen, Gallacher and Christie saw the ball end up at the feet of McKenzie. He flicked it up and volleyed it towards the top corner. Cantley produced a stunning save to tip it on to the bar. Forde pounced on the rebound and once again Cantlay came up with heroics to keep it out but Forde’s quick reaction and great balance allowed him to finish over the stranded keeper.
Pollok kept the tempo high against the ten men and after a Forde effort flew just over the bar a Burns cross was just deflected behind for a corner with McGregor waiting to pounce. From the corner Mullen’s delivery was headed down by McGregor. As McKenzie looked to get a shot away on the turn he was saved the trouble by Forde who prodded it home. With twenty minutes to go Pollok had their two-goal cushion.
McGregor came close to completing his hat-trick with an audacious nutmeg to put him clear of the defence. Unfortunately his shot went over the bar. Longmuir was then called into action to tip round a shot from outside the box. From the corner Pollok broke quickly and although Christie was initially held up by the last defender the ball broke to McGregor who passed to Kerr and he produced a low finish to make the final score 5-2.
The crowd of 1133 was the biggest of the round and those in attendance had certainly been entertained. The next assignment for Pollok in their Scottish Cup adventure is an away trip to Brora Rangers and the chance to test their abilities against the Highland League side.
POLLOK 5 – 2 GALA FAIRYDEAN ROVERS
Man of the Match: Ryan McGregor
Report by Peter Thomson
Photos from James Graham and Finlay Thom
Highlights from the Scottish FA and Mark Donnelly
Post-match interview with Stewart Maxwell