Tony McInally came off second best when his Cumnock side last played against his former club Pollok down at Townhead Park.

That momentous clash all of two seasons ago saw the Ayrshiremen succumb to a 3-1 defeat and was particularly memorable - not for the outcome or the football played, but for twin red cards dished out to goalkeepers Ally Semple of the Nock and the Lok’s equally experienced Jordan Longmuir.

A rare occurrence indeed with Semple walking for a rush of blood that led to him clearing out Shaun Fraser instead of the ball as the midfielder made a typical burst through on goal, while Longmuir’s marching orders were for allegedly handling outside his penalty area though visiting onlookers to  this day still swear the referee was “evening things up.”

Macca extracted more than a semblance of revenge later that same season when he derived great satisfaction from steering Cumnock to a 1-0 Newlandsfield triumph and he will doubtless be again looking for his inside knowledge of the visitors  (11 of Pollok’s current squad were signed by him) to help Cumnock come out on top in today’s face-off.

The man who replaced him at the Southsiders helm, his former No.2 Murdie McKinnon, scoffs at the very thought - and insists there’s no comparison with the current Pollok side and the one previously managed by Macca.

He said: “It’s true to say a fair number of players remain from Tony’s time in charge but he knows next to nothing about our new emerging faces on the block: the Del Esplins, Kyle Bradleys, Johnny Lyons, Callum Grahams, Matty Grants and Josh Weirs.

“Their hunger and sheer desire to be winners allied to the experienced hands placed on the tiller from such as Paul Gallagher, Mark Sideserf, Shaun and Bryan Wharton is the mix that has allowed us to get away to a fairly promising start to the season and sit fourth top of the table.

“Nobody is getting carried away but apart from a bad day at the office against Bonnyto. These guys have answered all the questions and met all the targets asked of them, namely to come through August with enough points on the board  to be in and around the title race.

“And the fact no team has managed to remain unscathed is an indication of just how competitive this Premier Division is turning out to be and shows you have to be on your A-game week in, week out - or else.”

Pollok were certainly close to their best in midweek when running out emphatic 5-1 winners at home over Cumbernauld United thanks to goals from Graham (2), Weir, Wharton and leading scorer Adam Forde.

Murdie added: “The guys up top have been excellent of late and scoring for fun so I cannot complain even if our winning margin could and should have been greater because the United goalkeeper has saved a Fordy penalty kick and both he and Callum had goals chalked off in dubious circumstances."

The trip into the Ayrshire heartlands appears to be fraught with added difficulties and success-craving Pollok supporters will doubtless fret on the journey. But how could they not when the Glasgow club’s last unfurling of a top-tier title flag was so long ago that the Old Firm were being managed by Gordon Strachan and Walter Smith?

Yet their unlucky 13-year wait pales in comparison to that of fallen giants Cumnock, never top of the pile as a Super or West Premier League club and whose last title success was the Ayrshire First Division back in the same year as Google was founded (1998).

Regardless of their Townhead Park fate, Pollok’s place in the pecking order is set to remain unchanged as the three sides above them in the standings  - Auchinleck Talbot, Kilwinning Rangers and Clydebank - are strongly fancied to take the spoils against Rutherglen Glencairn, Rossvale and Irvine Meadow respectively. Darvel, on their return to playing action after a coronavirus outbreak laid up seven players and caused back-to-back games to be postponed, can do no better than retain fifth spot even if, as expected, they get the better off Largs Thistle at Barrfields .

At Conference Leagues level, Arthurlie appear to have the necessary firepower at Dunterlie to see off the challenge posed by Muirkirk and should remain atop the A Division standings, even though nearest challengers Shotts Bon Accord appear an odds-on bet to pick up a three-points haul against Lesmahagow at Hannah Park.

Proudly perched atop of Division B are Cambuslang Rangers on the back of  chalking up a 4-1 midweek defeat of erstwhile frontrunners Ardeer Thistle thanks to scores by Scott Willaimson (2), Gordon Dick and Alan Reid.

Yet another stiff test awaits the Lang in hosting the visit of an unpredictable Renfrew where any slip-up will be welcomed - though possibly not capitalized upon - by the two teams heading up the chasing pack,  undefeated Gartcairn and Ardeer.

They are both on the road to face tough opposition themselves with Gartcairn taking on fourth-top St Cadoc's at McKenna Park while Ardeer are tasked with overcoming Greenock, whose in-form hitman James Marks helped himself to his third hat-trick of the season in a 5-0 rout of Dalry Thistle last Wednesday night.

Intriguing contests abound yet arguably the leading  contender for game of the day is the meeting of second-top St Roch's and C Division kingpins Drumchapel United at the James McGrory Stadium which has all the makings of a “must-win” contest for Paul Kelly’s men.

Elsewhere, Irvine Meadow and Girvan were the unlucky pair of eligible WoSFL clubs to be landed with ties when the Scottish Cup proper preliminary round pairings were drawn this week.

Auchinleck Talbot, Clydebank, Cumnock, Darvel and Glasgow University received byes into the first round but the Medda must hope home advantage can work in their favour against formidable East Region outfit Musselburgh Athletic, while Girvan must negotiate an away game with Tynecastle FC.


PDM Buildbase Premier League
Bonnyton Thistle v Troon, Glenafton v Rob Roy, Cumnock v Pollok, Cumbernauld Utd v Hurlford Utd, Clydebank v Irvine Meadow, Largs Thistle v Darvel, Rossvale v Kilwinning Rangers, Beith v Benburb, Rutherglen Glencairn v Auchinleck Talbot, Blantyre Vics v  Kilbirnie Ladeside.

PDM Buildbase Conference League A
Shotts Bon Accord v Lesmahagow, Arthurlie v Muirkirk, Whitletts Vics v Lugar Boswell,  Craigmark v Johnstone Burgh, Maybole v Irvine Vics, Forth Wanderers v Maryhill, Girvan v Saltcoats Vics.

PDM Buildbase Conference League B
Kello Rovers v Thorniewood Utd, Port Glasgow v Royal Albert, Cambuslang Rangers v Renfrew, Glasgow Utd v Carluke Rovers, Greenock v Ardeer Thistle, St Cadoc's v Gartcairn, Ashfield v Newmains Utd.

PDM Buildbase Conference League C
St Roch's v Drumchapel Utd, Vale of Clyde v St Anthony's, Ardrossan  Winton Rovers v Petershill, Neilston v Lanark Utd, Vale of Leven v Yoker Athletic, Glasgow Perthshire v Larkhall Thistle, Wishaw v Kilsyth Rangers.

PDM Buildbase Division Four
St Peter's v Kilsyth Athletic v BSC Glasgow, St Peter's v Harmony Row,  Glenvale v Harthill Royal, Finnart v Campbeltown Pupils.