Festive spirit melts Rich's heart as Lok match skates on thin ice...

POLLOK'S John Richardson has urged Super Premier bosses to collude with one another if teams want to avoid being caught cold by severe weather conditions.

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The Lok gaffer spoke ahead of tomorrow's scheduled tie with rivals Ashfield on a Saracen Park pitch which will require very favourable overnight weather to stand any chance of being deemed playable.

Rich said: "Like just about every other Junior manager, I've had to scramble around and try to book indoor facilities or artificial pitches for our midweek training sessions.

"And this problem is exacerbated many times over at weekends when teams want to fix up friendly matches in the event of their games ending up postponed.

"Waiting for the result of pitch inspections is too late in the day with every Junior and Amateur side competing for what limited facilities are out there.

"That's why I fully appreciate Stevie Rankin of Ashfield getting in touch with the heads-up on the state of his pitch and the likelihood of our game going ahead tomorrow.

"Earlier in the week he was saying there was a lot of frost in the ground causing the playing surface to be brick hard, so he reckoned there was little hope of our league match being played.

"He sounded slightly more optimistic last night but, nevertheless, felt the temperatures would need to rise significantly if our game is to be on.

"Budgie McGhie of Clydebank afforded me the same courtesy when Holm Park was looking unplayable two weeks ago.

"Last Saturday I did the honours for Chris Strain when it became patently obvious that Newlandsfield was never going to pass an inspection in the days leading up to our game against Irvine Meadow.

"Gaffers can continue to be fierce dugout rivals, but during this cold snap we have to try and help each other out because it's us who are left with the responsibility of keeping players ticking over.

"If our game is off tomorrow then I'm keeping fingers crossed that Dalry Thistle v Dunipace in the New Coin Holdings Cup goes ahead because we are down to face the winners in the second round next week."

The freezing misery has helped Pollok on the injury front with Brian McGinty shaking off a hamstring problem, goalkeeper Stevie McNeil a thigh knock and centreback Stevie Reilly from a pulled calf muscle.

Richardson added: "Steff McNeil and Gints would definitely have missed out against the Medda while Stevie could have played at a push, so the lay-off has done us a trick in one respect."

Ashfield have also benefited from their three weeks of inactivity, according to team manager Rankin.

Stevie revealed: "Shaun Fraser underwent surgery on a foot problem and is only a week away from his comeback.

"Yet he hasn't missed a single game which is great news as he's a very important player in our set-up."

Giving themselves every chance of competitive action tomorrow are Annbank United, who are already resigned to their own Pebble Park being ruled unplayable.

The club have switched their Ayrshire District League clash against Girvan to their opponents' Hamilton Park ground, which has been playable on each of the last two weekends.

On the transfer front, Irvine Meadow have snapped up out-of-favour Rob Roy frontman Finlay Frye, while towering stopper Robbie Cochrane is reportedly on the open-to-transfer list at Largs Thistle after walking out on his club.

Meanwhile, a mixed bag awaited reigning Ayrshire Cup holders Auchinleck Talbot after West Region chiefs made the draw for the early rounds of this season's competition.

Tommy Sloan's men landed a comparatively easy opener at home to Darvel, but the second round holds a tricky tester away to top-flight rivals Beith, who are strongly tipped to overcome Muirkirk in their first round tie.

Troon. who were the beaten finalists last time out, have landed a tough home draw as they will welcome Cumnock in what will be another tasty contest.

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