Saturday 19th March 2011 - New Coin Automatics West of Scotland Cup Round 2
(Report by Peter Ferguson)
The penalty shoot-out.
Gary Espener sets up an early chance for Joe Andrew.
The Glens will have to wait at least another year to win the only cup the club has never won, but it's fair to say that the Glencairn players can be very pleased with their performance at a venue where it is generally very hard to get a result, and where they had lost 5-1 earlier in the season. In the end, although they rode their luck at times, the visitors will count themselves unfortunate not to have won the match over the 90 minutes.
Richie Chang and Gary Espener replaced Lorn Gibson and Stephen Anderson from the team that lost out narrowly to Irvine Meadow XI in the last competitive match. Otherwise it was "as you were" for the Glencairn starting line-up as manager Willie Harvey gave a vote of confidence in the unchanged defence, which included new signing Robert Smith at right back who had played as a trialist in the previous match.
The visiting supporters were up in arms early on when the linesman on the covered enclosure side, in front of the noisy home support and beside the home dugout, flagged for offside against Glens' striker Gary Espener as he ran clear through on goal. It was a poor decision, as Espener was clearly a yard onside when the pass was released to him.
Glencairn continued on the front foot though, and Joe Andrew fired into the side netting after a clever flick on by Espener, and the offside flag again saved Pollok in the 9th minute when Chris Hopkins pressurised his opponent, won possession and set up Andrew with a clever pass.
Pollok's first move of any threat came in the 11th minute when Kevin Bradley dispossessed George Moore on the right, and his cross ball was sliced over his own crossbar by Chris Merrilees. Bradley was causing problems for the visitors' defence as he appeared to have a licence to roam, and his snap-shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 16th minute flew narrowly wide.
It was a fairly even contest at this stage, and Pollok goalkeeper Zander Cowie had to stretch to save a glanced header by Thomas Morrow after an excellent cross by Richie Chang. Morrow tested Cowie again in the 27th minute with a lob from the edge of the box which the Pollok no.1 tipped over the bar. Bizarrely the linesman's offside flag went up again with no Glencairn player anywhere near the ball.
Pollok came close when Barry Tulloch's deep cross from the right flew over Glencairn goalkeeper Allan Colquhoun, but it was just too high for prolific striker Iain Diack to reach at the back post. Glencairn responded with a sweeping attacking move involving Hopkins, Morrow and Andrew, with the striker's shot blocked by a Pollok defender just as Andrew seemed set to score.
On the half hour came the best chance of the match so far, as Espener flicked a long ball on to Andrew. This time the linesman's flag correctly stayed down, but Andrew's lobbed effort fell wide of the target.
Pollok upped the pace as half-time approached and Glencairn were pinned back, but defending well. Shaun Dillon curled a free kick over the wall and off the outside of the post in the 35th minute, and then Glencairn had a huge stroke of good fortune two minutes later. Andy Ward misjudged a ball in the air and suddenly Diack found himself clean through on Colquhoun. The striker smacked his shot off the inside of the post, the ball rebounded at great pace across the goal line, hit the inside of the other post, and incredibly rebounded back out again !
Pollok had to replace their goalkeeper just after that, Cowie having picked up a knock earlier in the game, and he was replaced by substitute stopper Scott Morrison. The home side's pressure continued though, and after Bradley curled a shot just past the angle of the post and bar, Doyle was unfortunate with an overhead kick which flew just wide of the target.
Half-time : 0-0
Richie Chang drives at the Pollok defence in the second half.
Glencairn were first to show in the second half, and a quick long throw by Morrow was met by the head of Andrew, and Morrison was pleased to see the ball hit the top of the crossbar and go over, as he appeared to have been caught by surprise. Chang was next to have a go for The Glens, as he nutmegged his marker on the right and fired a rising shot over Morrison's crossbar.
The opening goal seemed certain for Pollok in the 53rd minute when Roddy Hunter pounced on a slip by Martin Hughes and rolled the ball in front of Diack, but for no apparent reason the normally deadly striker hesitated, and Robert Smith made a crucial block tackle. It was a bit of a sitter though.
Pollok seemed to be getting closer and closer as the second half went on, but Glencairn were defending strongly throughout, with George Moore and Chris Merrilees particularly catching the eye. Merrilees deserved special credit for the way he was handling Diack, considering he was struggling with a leg muscle knock from early in the game.
Colquhoun kept the scoreline blank in the 67th minute as he dived at the feet of MacKenzie to block, and then a brilliant saving tackle by Moore denied Diack again a minute later, as the home side tried to turn the screw.
Glencairn had another golden opportunity to go in front with 15 minutes remaining. Substitute striker Stephen Anderson turned away from his marker on the edge of the box and found himself clean through on Morrison, but the home stopper blocked at Anderson's feet. The ball broke loose and, as Joe Andrew tried to shoot on the rebound, he appeared to be clipped from behind, but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty.
There was time for one more chance at either end as the final whistle approached. Hopkins linked with Andrew in a clever 1-2 but saw his left foot shot saved on the dive by Morrison. Then in the final minute Bradley fired straight at Colquhoun from 12 yards after a clever cut-back by Hunter had picked him out.
And so it was straight to the lottery of penalty kicks to decide who progressed to round 3. First up for Glencairn was Ross Ballantyne, but his effort hit the underside of the bar, then hit Morrison on the back, but remarkably didn't cross the line. Scott Gair took Pollok's first effort, and it was well saved by Colquhoun on the dive to his left. George Moore was next for Glencairn, but he hit his effort wide of the post. Shaun Dillon scored for Pollok to make it 1-0. Joe Andrew sent Morrison the wrong way equalise, and then Jojo Connolly missed the target for Pollok. Lorn Gibson put Glens 2-1 ahead, only for Kevin Bradley to equalise. Glencairn's final kicker was Chris Hopkins, and he leaned back slightly and hit the bar, setting up the chance for Roddy Hunter to cheekily chip the winning kick into the net.
Glens' manager Willie Harvey wasn't too downbeat after the match, focussing instead on the performance rather than the outcome of of the shoot-out. "I can't fault any of my players today, I thought they were all terrific. We showed a level of commitment and performance that has been missing since the first few games of the league season when we were doing well. I've told them that we now have to take that form from a cup game into the league, and we have 12 cup finals to play. If we produce performances like that, we'll give ourselves a chance of staying in this league."
Pollok :- Cowie (Morrison), Aitchison, McClune, Dillon, Gair, Connolly, Tulloch (MacKenzie), Hardie, Diack, Hunter, Bradley. (Subs not used - Hardie and Milloy.)
Rutherglen Glencairn :- Colquhoun, Smith, Moore, Merrilees, Ward, Hopkins, Chang, Hughes (Ballantyne), Espener (Anderson), Andrew, Morrow (Gibson). (Subs not used - McGurgan, Baxter and Duncan
Man of the match - (Chosen by Alistair Baxter) George Moore got the nod narrowly ahead of Chris Merrilees for an exellent defensive performance.