After a week’s break Pollok travelled to Darvel for matchday 28 of the West of Scotland Premiership to take on the side sitting one place above them in the table.
The manager made one change to the starting line up from the 5-3 win over Troon with Lyon being replaced by Gary McCann. Buchanan moved into a more central role in midfield.
After an initial burst of action in the opening couple of minutes where Truesdale did well to deal with a back pass fired at him from the centre circle and Menzies got a good header away from a dangerous cross the game settled into a midfield battle with little in the way of goalmouth action.
The first shot on target arrived in the seventeenth minute when Stirling powered in an angled drive which stung the palms of Longmuir. Whilst Darvel were dominating possession they were finding it hard to create chances against a hardworking and disciplined Pollok midfield and defence.
Buchanan was one of those hard workers and when he intercepted a pass in his own half he strode forward and got his head up. His pass released Docherty through the inside right channel. When he drove into the box he stumbled and then slipped but managed to retain possession and prodded the ball back to Christie. He knocked the ball passed his opposing defender and was taken out as he went past. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Christie stepped up and calmly sent Truesdale the wrong way to put Pollok one up in the twenty seventh minute.
Darvel equalised in the forty-second minute. As Pollok prepared for a free-kick to be crossed into the box it was instead passed out to the left wing. The cross was a good one as it dissected Longmuir and his defence and was bundled home at the far post by Ferguson.
With a minute to go until the break Pollok carved out a great opportunity to regain the lead. McCann intercepted a pass in his own box and dribbled forward to the halfway line. A simple pass back to Mullen was quickly re-distributed to Esplin in the middle of the park. His pass split the Darvel defence and allowed Docherty to run through on goal. He rounded Truesdale but his shot towards goal was superbly blocked by a sliding defender. All square at the break.
The second half was a couple of minutes old when a couple of the Recreation Park sprinklers made an unscheduled appearance in the centre circle. Given how much of the game was getting played in the middle third of the pitch it was surprising no one got soaked.
Pollok created the first chance of the half after some tenacious work by Forde. He held off a couple of challenges before sliding a pass into strike partner, Docherty. His first touch was good but his low strike was probably heading wide although Truesdale got a fingertip to it to make sure. From Mullen’s corner Brownlie headed wide.
Darvel then resumed their domination of the ball and whilst it wasn’t quite defence against attack if it had been the defence was winning. Just before the hour mark the home side put together some slick passing which presented a good scoring opportunity just inside the box. The shot however was not as accurate as the passing which had preceded it and Longmuir was able to save.
Menzies headed a dangerous free-kick out for a corner from which Syme – playing his third league game against Pollok in seven weeks – headed over. At the other end a curling free-kick from Mullen was met by the head of Brownlie whose effort was well saved by Truesdale.
In their search for a winner Darvel were restricted to long range efforts – one of which Longmuir had to tip over the bar. In the end Pollok’s resoluteness and organisation merited a point.
With Beith’s midweek win at Auchinleck Talbot having given them a commanding lead at the top of the table Darvel knew anything less than a perfect run in would probably not be enough to retain their league title. Whilst the game had been less than memorable it did in fact mark the end of an era as it turned out to be Mick Kennedy’s last game in charge of the East Ayrshire side.
For Pollok it was another game ticked off with the defending much improved on the reverse fixture only a few weeks previously at Newlandsfield. A hard won point in a fixture that had an end of season feel to it throughout the second half.
Match Report: Peter Thomson
Photos: James Graham
Full Match Highlights from Mark Donnelly:
Stewart Maxwell’s thoughts on the game: