Penicuik punish Pollock to progress in Junior Cup

Penicuik players congratulate Ryan Gay after his stunning opening goal
Penicuik players congratulate Ryan Gay after his stunning opening goal
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Penicuik reached the last sixteen of the Scottish Junior Cup after they blew Pollok away with two first-half strikes.

The goals came from yan Gay and Dougie Cunnison – and their reward is a home draw against Ayrshire giants Irvine Meadow in two weeks.

Penicuik boss Craig Meikle was delighted with his defence, saying: “I saw last week that we had a defence who could handle the pressure and it worked again. The central partnership of Darrell Young and Dougie Cunnison probably won the game for usy. What I saw from them today gives us the confidence to look forward to the game against Irvine Meadow.”

A fortnight ago when this tie was first played, Pollok had by far the bulk of the pressure with Penicuik hanging on for long spells. Many feared this replay would turn out to be a carbon copy of that game, but it didn’t. This time Penicuik took the game to the West Super League side and won.

In atrocious conditions in front of a huge crowd both sides took the field wondering if the game would be played to a finish with snow, rain and a strong wind making conditions almost unbearable.

Penicuik started strongly and had a couple of chances in the opening five minutes giving their support hope for a result. Then in the tenth minute they grabbed a fabulous opener courtesy of Gay. The ball was played into his feet some 25 yards out in the inside right channel. He turned to his left before turning back and curling a sweet looping effort into the top corner leaving keeper Stephen Robertson helpless.

This goal stunned Pollok and the confidence oozed away from their play. They’re first real effort at goal didn’t arrive until the 38th minute when Ritchie Barr headed a Mark McLennan cross over the bar. Penicuik needed another goal and it arrived in the 40th minute with a header from Cunnison. Gay’s corner found Cunnison in acres of space leaving him a simple job of heading the ball home from six yards.

Pollok started the second half like a train. They forced the play from the kick-off but it was then that the central pairing of Darrell Young and Cunnison stepped up to the mark. This is Young’s first season in the Junior ranks after stepping up from the under 21s, making his performance even more remarkable. Time and time again the duo made vital challenges to stop certain goals with Cunnison commanding his central area like a general commanding his troops.

Pollock however did pull a goal back and it was a scrambled affair with the Penicuik defence having a couple of chances to clear their lines. The ball eventually broke to Pollok’s Ritchie Barr and he slid the ball into the far corner as he fell to the ground. That was in the 82nd minute leaving the visitors plenty of time to grab the equaliser. However Penicuik stepped up a gear themselves. They hit the woodwork with a great effort from Barr and held out comfortably.

Meikle was one happy man at the final whistle and added: “I went to Pollok for the first game confident we could win it through there but we were under a lot of pressure. I saw then that our lads wouldn’t buckle and that gave me the confidence for our game. We opened up a bit more [this time] and they couldn’t handle us.”

Penicuik: Bejaoui, Ross, Dickson, Young, Cunnison, Lister, Killin (Harris), Gay, Millar (Brigain), Barr, Montgomery (McPartlin). Subs: Thomson, Hill.

Pollok: Robertson, McLennan, McVey (Barclay), Reilly (McGillon), McGowan, McAleenan, Waddell, Andreoni, Barr, Diack, Easton. Subs: Bradley, Duncan.