Stewart Maxwell admits his Pollok side need to change their “mindset” after crashing to a 4-2 defeat against Hurlford United in the re-arranged West of Scotland Premier Division clash at Newlandsfield Park.
Third-placed Lok were guilty of slack defending as their title ambitions suffered a major blow in Glasgow’s Southside, with goals from Kris Kerr, Jack Whittaker, Paul McKenzie and Chris Robertson securing maximum points for the visitors.
David Brownlie and Chris Duff had given the home side something to cheer but Adam Forde’s spot-kick early in the second half was saved by Ford keeper Martin McDonald which swung the momentum in the Ayrshire side’s favour.
A frustrated Maxwell, who replaced Murdo MacKinnon in the Pollok hotseat in November, was remarkably taking charge of his first home fixture after a recent spree of postponements. He said: “Our performance showed traits we displayed before I came in. We dominate possession and create a lot of opportunites but don’t get the right result. I think we were criminal of that again tonight.
“We started the game really well and had some good passages of play, hitting the woodwork and their keeper made a few saves. Although, Hurlford are a good side and always create a chance.
“We need to be a bit more commanding in our decision-making. To our credit, we scored before half-time and being the home team you’d think we would go on the ascendency but then we missed a penalty to go 2-1 up which is a big moment. They went straight up the park and scored.
“The goals we lost we poor, in my opinon. Things need to change, we must change our mindset because results at home over the last year haven’t been good enough. We seem to perform better on the road for whatever strange reason. Our performances need to improve.
“We were missing a bit of physicality in defence (with Calum Gow and Scott Rumsby out) but we’ve still got players who can come in and do a job.”
Both sides were eager to get their respective campaigns back on track after an enforced 11-day lay-off due to the recent adverse weather and the match began at a high tempo, with the hosts getting into some promising areas and carving out the better openings in the early stages.
Derek Esplin had a thunderous 25-yard piledriver crash off the crossbar after 14 minutes before Hurlford created their first chance 20 minutes later. Excellent work on the right-hand side from Marc McKenzie saw him hit the by-line before playing a clever one-two with Kris Kerr, but the striker’s effort from close range was pushed onto the bar by Jordan Longmuir.
The visitors didn’t have long to wait before breaking the deadlock - just four minutes to be precise. The lively McKenzie found himself in space before sending an inch-perfect cross towards the back post for strike partner Kerr, who rose above his marker to bullet a header beyond the keeper into the net.
Pollok’s response was immediate and they were back on level terms with five minutes of the first-half remaining. Fraser Mullen’s corner from the right was met in the air by the unmarked David Brownlie and the skipper planted a header into far corner.
Martin McDonald had been the busier of the two stoppers and as play continued to rage from end-to-end, the visiting keeper made a vital block to deny Adam Forde from point-blank range on the stroke of half-time.
Pollok introduced two of their latest signings to the 500-strong crowd in attendance at the interval, with Kenny Barr and Jay Nelson joining the club from East Stirlingshire and Cambuslang Rangers earlier this week.
The second half got off to a ferocious start and the home side were awarded a penalty on 50 minutes when full-back Carter Frew was penalised for handball inside the box. Forde stepped up but McDonald guessed the right way and produced a stunning save with his right boot.
Moments later, Hurlford made their opponents pay for that missed opportunity when former Kilmarnock youngster Jack Whittaker capitalised on a defensive lapse to curl a shot past Longmuir into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Not for the first time, Pollok refused to go down without a fight and Chris Duff equalised after 64 minutes by rifling a low effort into the net after substitute Sam Lidington lost possession midway inside his own half.
However, Lok failed to learn their lesson and found themselves trailing once more on 73 minutes. A corner from the left wasn’t cleared properly allowing Paul McKenzie to nod home following a goalmouth scramble.
If that goal was a cheap one to concede, what was to follow would have left Maxwell furious. Another corner from the opposite side saw Longmuir attempt to punch the ball to safety. The keeper got his clearance all wrong and was left flapping at thin air as defender Chris Robertson found the net via a slight deflection.
Jubilant Hurlford boss Darren Henderson felt his side were good value for their two-goal winning margin as they climbed up to fifth spot in the table.
He stated: “It’s was a very entertaining game for a Wednesday night and the boys put in a big performance. To score four goals against a really good side who have been doing well of late is pleasing. It’s a massive three points and a huge confidence boost for us.
“I’m disappointed with the two goals we gave away, they came from individual errors. But I can’t for my players for effort. Martin has saved the penalty in the second half which is a big turning point in the game.
“We then scored another two goals and it gave us a wee bit of breathing space which I think we deserved. I’ve been here for 11 years now and it’s as good a dressing room as I’ve had. We’ve got a lot of young boys who are improving and if I can keep them together next season then hopefully we’ll be a strong team.”
Pollok (4-4-2): Longmuir, Mullen, Sideserf, Menzies (Burns; 85), Brownlie, Esplin, Christie, Fraser, S. McCann (Docherty; 67), Forde (G. McCann; 85), Duff (Krol; 67)
Unused: Lumsden (GK), Buchanan, Lyon
Hurlford United (4-3-3): McDonald, Frew, Love (Lidington; 55), Reid, Robertson, Miller, Wilson, Kerr (Mullen; 62), McKenzie, Whittaker
Unused: Taylor (GK), McCracken, McKnight, Bell, Walker
Referee: Sean Murdoch
GlasgowWorld Man of the Match: Martin McDonald (Hurlford United)