POWERFUL Pollok blew Hurlford away in a wet and windy clash on Saturday (Feb 4) – after a dog held up the game.
The home team’s preparations for the game were dealt a blow, after defender Craig Reid was injured in the warm-up, with Chris McKnight called up from the bench to replace him in the starting line-up.
The kick-off was also delayed for two minutes, as players and officials attempted to coax a stray Husky away from the pitch at Hurlford’s Blair Park. The pooch was to return a number of times throughout the game, before its fun came to an end when the owners were found midway through the second half!
When the match started, it was Pollok that came out the traps quickest, having the best of the early exchanges and taking a controversial lead in the fourth minute.
Pollok No9 Adam Forde rose highest at the back post, heading home a cross from the right down into the bottom left-hand corner. Hurlford players and officials were incensed and protested heavily as they thought the ball had gone out of play in the build-up, but the goal stood to make it 1-0 Pollok.
Pollok kept up the pressure as they continued to have the best of the first half. McDonald was again called into action when, from a corner, Pollok’s Gow headed powerfully towards the near post – but the ‘keeper showed good reactions to save.
Hurlford weren’t as lucky soon after when, in the 20th minute from another corner, Pollok’s Sean Burns got up unchallenged, to loop a header over the static Hurlford defenders on the line and into the far-left corner for 2-0.
The goal seemed to stun Hurlford into action, and they raced up field from the centre to force a corner. From the resulting kick, Hurlford joint top scorer Paul ‘Taz’ McKenzie saw his flying header scrambled away by a Pollok defender on the line.
Hurlford had a bit more of the play as the half wore on, but drama ensued just before half time, when Marc McKenzie of Hurlford reacted angrily to a crunching Pollok tackle, and after a melee between both sets of players, he was pulled aside to find his name going into the referee’s notebook.
Hurlford started the second half on the front foot, as they looked to get the early goal that would get them back into the game. Marc McKenzie had a turn and shot in the box, blocked by a Pollok defender as it headed goalwards.
The game turned on its head in 65 minutes, when frustrated Paul McKenzie was sent off, hurtling into a late tackle on Pollok’s Derek Esplin for a second bookable offence and an early bath.
The red card gave the impetus back to Pollok and they immediately turned up the pressure, looking for a killer third goal. From a corner, substitute Kenny Barr fired just over from inside the box, when it looked easier to score.
The third goal finally came in 75 minutes, Pollok No2 Mullen delivered a great hanging corner into the heart of the ‘Ford box, and another substitute Stuart McCann arrived, to get on the end of the cross and produce a spectacular diving header, sending the ball into the net with his first touch and the Pollok fans wild.
Hurlford became increasingly more frustrated and Liam Miller became Ford’s second player to be sent off for a second bookable offence in 87 minutes.
Pollok pressed home the two-man advantage, and in the last minute, substitute Jay Nelson ran onto a through pass, to coolly slide the ball past the outstretched leg of McDonald and in at the near post, to make it 4-0 at full time.
Pollok had never won at Hurlford, and manager Stewart Maxwell said “it was a good overall team performance” by his side, that “showed a glimpse of what they are capable of.” He was also impressed with the four-legged pitch invader, who he thought “showed a decent turn of pace”, and “was very, very tricky in wide areas”
Hurlford assistant manager John Dempster said: “We deserved the result we got, we gave away cheap goals and never particularly started well. Things went against us a wee bit in the lead up to it, but overall, we can have no complaints about the result.”