Pollok 2 vs. 3 Clydebank
Citylink Scottish Junior Cup Semi-Final First Leg
Saturday 18th April 2009, Kick-Off 2.30pm
Newlandsfield Park, Glasgow
One of the best games of the season for my money. A gorgeous day, a healthy crowd and a match played in proper cup-tie spirit.
On the approach to the ground after I leave Pollokshaws East train station there’s a vendor selling Pollok and Clydebank scarves and flags. There’s one at the corner of the ground too. I say ‘Pollok and Clydebank’ really they’re just black and white, and red and white flags and scarves. Talk about opportunism.
The prices are jacked up today also. It’s seven quid admission. Still, it’s decent compared to some of the mad prices in the SFL.
There’s a definite sense of occasion in the ground. It really does feel like it’s a big game.
The SJFA have made a change to the format for this year’s semi-finals. This is the first time they have opted for a two legged tie. The thinking behind this is to boost crowds and therefore takings. Traditionally the semis were played in a senior ground on a Friday night. This obviously allowed the games to avoid clashing with senior matches, the thinking being that it would boost attendances. The police have vocally opposed Friday night games, although the crowds haven’t been great in recent years in any case.
There are no away goals and if the tie is drawn it goes straight to penalty kicks.
I’ve been to Newlandsfield Park once already this season, to see Pollok take on Auchinleck Talbot, who are playing Kirkintilloch Rob Roy in the other semi.
On that occasion I’m pretty sure that the match announcer played ‘Jocelyn Square’ by Love and Money, which he also does today. If James Grant is wondering where those steady PRS cheques for 12p are coming from then look no further.
I notice that the referee (or if this were the Daily Record, ‘Whistler’), Des Roache, I’ve seen in action already this week. He took charge of the Rangers-Aberdeen Reserve game on Tuesday.
There is a really good crowd in today. It’s not a sell out, but everywhere on the terraces seems quite full. The Clydebank fans are in good voice and start the singing from before the kick-off. They regularly taunt the home support to sing and every so often they stop singing with a ‘Ssshhhh’ to give Pollok’s fans a turn. There’s certainly enough of the home support to make a roar for a couple of penalty claims, but there’s not a song all day.
The game opens at a quick pace, with Pollok having most of the early attacks. Clydebank defend well. In particular Mark Hailstones who twice clears from on the goal line.
Against the run of play Clydebank take the lead. A Hailstones corner from the left comes into the box. Kris Robertson in the Pollok goal goes for it but misses. John Jack leaps and heads the ball into the net to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
There’s not the same sense of excitement that there was when Clydebank shocked Petershill to go a goal up in the Quarter-Final. This obviously stems from the fact that in this two-legged tie there’s a long way to go and little chance that this 1-0 lead will be intact at the end of 180 minutes.
In fact it lasts only 2 minutes as a diving header from Stevie Miller levels the score.
With twenty-five minutes gone Mr. Roache awards Bankies a penalty kick. I don’t have the best of views but there’s a strong shout from the Clydebank fans. Gary Lynn sticks the ball down Robertson’s left hand side and the underdogs are back in the lead.
There’s a let off for the vistors on 37 minutes when ‘keeper Stefan Gonet goes up for a high ball around about the penalty spot. He misses it completely. A Pollok forward heads it onto the crossbar from where it bounces back into Gonet’s arms.
A few moments later Clydebank have a chance to increase their lead as Hailstones takes a quick throw-in that sends Charlie Hobbs off down the left wing. He cuts inside and cracks a shot that flashes past the left hand post.
The Pollok players run onto the pitch for the second half shouting and encouraging each other. This seems to have done the job as they start with all guns blazing and get the equaliser within the first minute. Gonet spills a shot straight into the path of top scorer Bryan Dingwall who slots it into the net.
It’s a fine spring day and some of the fans in attendance have taken the opportunity to have a cargo in the sun. There are groups of lads with cases of beer, bottles of Buckfast and MD 20/20. There are also several children running around chasing each other.
In 69 minutes there’s a scramble in the Pollok box. Clydebank have a shot blocked. Then as Ryan Scobie hits a shot with Robertson in goal nowhere Derek Wingate appears to stop the shot with his hand. I’m not as vocal a Clydebank fan as I used to be several years ago, but even I, stood behind the goal, shout “Penalty!” The referee has no hesitation in awarding it and follows that up by showing Wingate a straight red.
Lynn steps up to take it again. This time he changes sides and skelps it high to Robertson’s right hand. The 6-1 outsiders are back in the lead again at 3-2.
Eight minutes later there’s an incident just outside the Clydebank penalty area. From where I am I don’t get a good look at it, but a guy behind me claims that Turnbull has put a knee into a Clydebank player’s face. Sure enough the ref whips out the red card again and Pollok are down to nine men. He follows that up very quickly with a red for Bankies’ subsitute Steven Blair. It’s now 9 men versus 10 men.
Pollok have a couple of chances to get the equaliser, but with a further 90 minutes coming up next week, there’s no need for them to commit too many men forward.
Bankies’ Mark Maxwell appears to take a heavy knock, but plays on as there are no more substitutes left. Apparently he incurred a broken collar bone.
Clydebank hang on to take a shock lead to Millburn Park for the second leg. They also maintain their record of never having lost an away Scottish Cup tie since their return to the Juniors.
The main aim for Bankies today was to keep the tie alive for the second leg and they’ve certainly done that. It should be an interesting match down in Alexandria next Saturday.
Pollok manager and ex-Clydebank (when they were a senior team) striker Jimmy Sinnet said afterwards to the Daily Record, “At the end of the game they were acting as if they’d won it already but the tie isn’t over yet.”
There’s a preview of the game from the Evening Times here, with an interview with Bankies’ Charlie Hobbs, as well as a good discussion about the tie in the comments section.
A selection of photographs from the Pollok website are here.
I have more photographs here.
There are about 18 minutes of highlights from YouTube below. First half then second half.
Pollok: Robertson, Carruth, Cruickshank, Aitchison, Wingate, Miller, Hardie, McGeown, Dingwall (Downs 81), Turnbull, Essler (MacKay 81)
Scorers: Miller (16), Dingwall (46)
Sent Off: Wingate (68), Turnbull (76)
Clydebank: Gonet, Lynn, McInnes, Rushford (Blair 52), Soutar, Anderson, J. Jack, Smith (Maxwell 71), Hobbs (Scobie 63), Mackie, Hailstones
Scorers: J. Jack (14), Lynn (25 pen, 69 pen)
Sent Off: Blair (76)
Referee: Des Roache
Assistants: Andy Tait, Euan Anderson
Fourth Official: Neil McLennan