Saturday 11th October 2014 - Stagecoach West Region Super League Division One
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
JC Hutchison shows his concentration as Pollok press in the first half.
Glencairn's unbeaten run in competitive matches this season finally came to an end after ten games, as league leaders and bookies' title favourites Pollok became the first team to score twice against The Glens this season. The match was effectively decided by two highly debatable second half penalty decisions, two very similar incidents at opposite ends of the park, but both of which referee Mr Chris Graham judged in favour of the visitors.
There were two enforced changes for Glencairn manager Willie Harvey, with top goal scorer Jamie Gilmartin ruled out with a hamstring injury, and right back Willie Galloway suffering from a shoulder injury. The replacements were Thomas Kilmartin and Ross Ballantyne respectively.
The Glens had an early half chance when an attempted header back to Pollok goalkeeper Jordan Longmuir was almost intercepted by Steven McClung after only 40 seconds, but the ball was just out of reach for the striker. Pollok's first chance came only a minute later as Mark Bishop's attempted clearance rebounded off Allan MacKenzie into the path of 'Lok's top scorer David Winters, but he fired over the bar from 16 yards.
Play was fairly even in the opening stages, with Kilmartin heading over from Kris Irvine's corner, before Tam Hanlon held off Andy Neil at the other end and pulled a save out of Glencairn no.1 JC Hutchison, who parried the ball away at his near post.
Pollok midfielder Findlay Frye was the first player into the referee's book for a poor challange on Del Esplin in the 17th minute. Two minutes later McClung went close for Glencairn as he cut in from the right and fired in a shot which was deflected a yard wide of the post.
A feature of Pollok's play was regular cross-field diagonal passes into the left wing area, and the 20th minute saw MacKenzie latching onto one of these passes before returning the ball across the face of goal, but no red shirts were able to get on the end of the cross.
The Glens were giving as good as they were getting at this point, and Marc Russell went close with a header from Esplin's cross in the 24th minute (pictured below). Esplin's energy in the centre of the pitch was causing concern for the Pollok midfield, and Giuseppe Capuano joined Frye in the referee's notebook for hauling Esplin back after the young Glens midfielder had won possession and surged forward.
Marc Russell heads narrowly over the crossbar.
Hutchison blocked at the feet of MacKenzie in the 25th minute after the ball broke kindly for the 'Lok striker, and MacKenzie went close again five minutes later when he found space to shoot in the area but fired his shot on the turn over the bar. Two minutes later Hutchison saved again, this time from Winters as the Pollok front two continued to look a very good partnership.
Three minutes before the interval The Glens almost took the lead. Irvine worked his way into space on the left edge of the penalty area, before rolling the ball to the edge of the penalty area into the path of Esplin. The midfielder's rising shot looked like it was swerving narrowly wide, but McClung got his head to the ball to try and divert it into the net, but succeded only in diverting the ball off target.
Glencairn were dealt an injury blow on the stroke of half time as Kilmartin was forced off with an ankle injury, and he was replaced up front by Gavin Ross. Winters sliced a shot high and wide in first half stoppage time, before the referee's whistle sent the teams into the break on level terms.
Half time : 0-0
Kris Irvine in first half action for Glencairn.
Neither team made any further changes at half time, and the second half started at a slower pace than the first. It took till the 56th minute for an incident of note, when MacKenzie rose to meet Tam Hanlon's corner from the right and his header flashed across goal and wide of the far post by inches.
That seemed to spark the match back into life, as Glencairn responded by going even closer at the other end only thirty seconds later. A trademark supporting run from midfield by Esplin saw him through on goal, but his shot was blocked away by Longmuir. The rebound fell into the path of Jordan Dalzell, who drilled his shot past the keeper and covering defender but wide of the target by no more than a coat of paint.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 58th minute as Pollok were awarded a penalty kick. Glencairn failed to clear their lines and the ball broke into the path of Winters and, as Russell stuck out a leg to challenge, the striker went down inside the penalty area, and the referee did not hesitate before whistling for a spot kick. David Winters stepped up to drill the ball low to Hutchison's right and, although the big stopper got a hand to the ball, he couldn't keep it out.
Pollok had their tails up now, and another diagonal pass released MacKenzie again, and he tried to set up Winters for a second goal but Hutchison blocked out the cross from the left. Glencairn were down to the bare bones in the striking department when McClung was forced off with an injury in the 63rd minute, winger Keiran Donaghy thrown on to play alongside Ross up front.
Only eight minutes after awarding Pollok a penalty kick, the referee raised eyebrows around the ground by refusing a penalty award at the other end in the 66th minute for what seemed like a very similar incident. A good move down the left flank ended with Gavin Ross going down as he was clipped by his marker just inside the penalty area, but the appeals for a spot kick were met by the referee flashing a yellow card towards Ross for simulation.
Esplin joined Ross in the referee's book for a blatant foul on John Sweeney after 71 minutes, and a minute later Pollok doubled their lead. A cross from the left by Kieran McAleenan found the free head of Allan MacKenzie, and he really couldn't miss from only six yards out.
Glencairn tried to make their final change with 10 minutes left to play, but Paul Thomson's entry to the field in place of Dalzell was delayed due to a mix-up with numbers on the shirts. Dalzell returned to the field while the strips were sorted, and he almost pulled a goal back when he forced Longmuir into a save at his near post in the 84th minute.
The home side's frustration was clear when, with five minutes remaining, Gavin Ross was shown a second yellow card and the inevitable red. The striker was blocked out by two defenders, but took a silly kick at one of his markers. While his first yellow card was highly questionable, the second was clear cut and he made his way to the changing rooms.
This left Glencairn with no recognised strikers available, and the game was basically over as a contest. Thomson was eventually allowed to enter the field of play, but bizarrely wearing a different Glencairn shirt to the rest of his team, and Dalzell was withdrawn.
Pollok ran down the clock by saving all of their substitutions to the closing minutes, firstly a double change with Marco Andreoni and Ryan MacBeth replacing Capuano and Sweeney respectively, and then Jamie Barclay replaced MacKenzie in the 90th minute, before the referee brought proceedings to a close after three minutes of uneventful stoppage time.
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Hutchison, Ballantyne, Neil, Bishop, Russell, McGuire, Dalzell (Thomson), Esplin, McClung (Donaghy), Kilmartin (Ross), Irvine. (Subs not used - Dunnachie, Hollis.)
Pollok :- Longmuir, Darroch, McAleenan, Wild, Gallacher, Frye, Hanlon, Capuano (Andreoni), Winters, MacKenzie (Barclay), Sweeney (MacBeth). (Subs not used - McGee, Harkness (gk).)
Man of the match - (chosen by Brian Eadie) Del Esplin.