Vics lineup: Liam Campbell, Dale Jones, Fraser Allan, Scott Gibson, Craig Kerr, Mikey Archer, Aaron Black, Lewis Warnock, Ronan Kearney, Connor O’Donnell, Cammy McNair. SUBS: Kyle King (GK), Grant Brennan, Eoghan McKeown, Ryan Whitley, Kyle MacDonald, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Sam MacKenzie, Jordan Marshall
Highlights from Mark Donnelly:
Match Report by Peter Thomson
Matchday 25 of the West of Scotland Premiership saw Pollok travel to Castle Park for a meeting with Blantyre Vics. With top scorer Forde missing, there was one change to the Pollok starting line-up with Callum Graham coming into replace him.
The game kicked off in pleasant sunshine and as close to ideal overhead conditions for football as you’ll get in January in Scotland. With seconds on the clock the home side picked up a yellow card for a late challenge as Pollok quickly displayed attacking intent.
In the 6th minute from their second corner in quick succession, the league leaders almost took the lead. Horne’s in-swinger was headed towards goal by Wharton. The keeper got a touch to it but the ball was still heading over the line until a last gasp intervention by a well-positioned defender.
With a quarter of an hour gone a kick out by the goalkeeper was returned by a Brownlie header over the top of the defence. The ball wouldn’t quite sit for Graham or McCann and it was eventually Lyon who took control but from the edge of the box his shot rose over the bar.
Pollok were dominating possession and territory but had very little to show for it terms of shots at goal although the home keeper did very well in dealing with a dangerous Horne cross with five minutes to go before the break. Up the other end Blantyre had their first real sight of goal as one through ball caused a bit of panic. It looked like Brownlie and Longmuir were leaving it to each other and when the Vics’ striker nipped in to get a touch Longmuir had to react quickly to dive at his feet and smother.
This scare perhaps prompted Pollok to up the tempo in the search of a half time lead and with 45 minutes on the clock they found the breakthrough. A good bit of interplay down the right wing by Lyon and Grant presented the latter with the opportunity to cross. He wrapped his foot round it and produced an exquisite curling cross into the heart of the box and right on to McCann’s head. He left the keeper with no chance as his bullet header found the corner of the net for his 50th competitive goal in Pollok colours.
Moments later – with the first half into injury time – Graham and Lyon combined well to set McCann in again. From a tight angle his low shot was well saved by the keeper with his right foot.
Whilst the first half ended well for Pollok the start of the second half brought bad news. Striker Graham went down injured and although he tried to carry on he soon had to be replaced by Weir. Blantyre then had a period of dominance in which they forced a series of corners. Although Longmuir’s goal never really came under threat in clearing the last of those corners captain Brownlie received a sore one and had to be helped from the pitch. He was replaced by McGregor.
With almost an hour gone Weir burst into the Blantyre box and as he cut inside appeared to be impeded but the referee waved aside his penalty claims. The home side then went up the park and flashed a low ball across the six yard box but neither of the inrushing forwards could reach it to apply the finishing touch.
In the 77th minute Pollok had the chance to make the game secure. A Wharton long throw was flicked on by McCann to Lyon whose shot on the turn was adjudged to have been handled by the defender who was adamant that it had hit him in the face rather than his outstretched arm as he jumped to block. The award of the penalty was to have little consequence however as McGregor’s low kick to the right was well read by the keeper who made a good save.
With five minutes to go Pollok had another great chance to avoid a nervy ending when Grant burst from midfield and dribbled past three defenders. His low show from a tight angle was well saved but the ball broke to Weir. With the keeper still on the ground he blasted it goalwards but hit a defender. The last action of the second half saw Gibson sent off for the home side as Pollok saw out the game.
This was a hard fought but merited victory for the league leaders against a Blantyre Vics side who were much improved from their visit to Newlandsfield at the start of the season. The majority in the crowd of 418 went home happy having seen their side cope with a tricky pitch and determined opposition to collect another three points.
Just the goal!
Pollok head to Castle Park to play Blantyre Victoria on Saturday with a 1.30 pm kick off.
We continued our good run of form last weekend with a 6-0 home win over Bonnyton, goalscorers were Matty Grant, doubles for Jonny Lyon and Adam Forde and rounded off by Callum Graham.
Blantyre had a free weekend last week as their home match with Darvel fell victim to the snow.
The Vics are currently sitting 19th, with 2 wins, 4 draws and 15 defeats, they have 10 points.
Formed in 1890, the Vics had a short spell in the senior leagues before the club folded for a couple of years. They reappeared in 1900 as a junior side and went on to win evey trophy they had played in at least once at that level. Their greatest achievement is the Scottish Junior Cup which they won on three occasions. Vics have won over 40 major honours in the junior ranks.
Their former players include not one but two men who would lead Celtic to European Cup glory in 1967, manager of the Lisbon Lions, Jock Stein and his captain Billy McNeill both started with Vics. Joe Jordan is another famous name who played at Castle Park as did former Pollok goalkeeper and manager Ronnie Lowrie.
Blantyre are currently managed by John Gibson who replaced our very own Murdie MacKinnon when Murdie left to join Pollok as Assistant Manager in 2016.
The last meeting between the clubs was the first game of this season when Pollok ran out 5-1 winners at Newlandsfield on July 17th. The Pollok goalscorers were Adam Forde, Ryan McGregor, a Shaun Fraser double and finished off by Matty Grant.