Ballymena 2 - 2 Linfield

City Cup Match
Saturday, March 15th, 1930, 3:00 PM at Ballymena Showgrounds
Referee: H. Watson (Glasgow)
Ballymena  Linfield

Goalscorers
Hugh Gilmore (8)
Jamie Shiels (24)
Joe Bambrick (7)
Tom Sloan (44)

Team Managers
Selection Committee
Selection Committee

Starting Eleven
John Gough
Alfred Basnett
Gordon McDairmid
John McNinch
David Reid
Hugh Gilmore
Sidney Howard
Jamie Shiels
Jonathan Dalrymple
Joseph Cassidy
Thomas Kilpatrick
Charlie Lawson
Walter Brown
Tommy Frame
William McCleery
Jack Jones
Tom Sloan
Billy Houston
Harry McCracken
Joe Bambrick
Frank Grice
Harold McCaw

Last Saturday's Cup match at the Showgrounds between Ballymena and Linfield, the Irish Cup finalists, was undoubtedly the most important fixture of the day. It attracted a huge crowd, amongst whom were some 980 Linfield supporters who travelled by special train from Belfast. The gate was £107 4s 6d.

The match was a veritable Cup final rehearsal, and those who watched the thrilling duel got some idea of the respective merits of the teams, and have been discussing their prospects of Irish Cup honours ever since. The result of a draw leaves their chances open, and this fact along should draw a tremendous crowd to Celtic Park on the 29th March.

As far as Saturday's match was concerned Ballymena had rather the better of the argument in the first half, doing quite seventy-five per cent. of the attacking, so that on the distribution of play in this half alone a victory would not have flattered them. The second half, however, was a more even affair, the play being distributed on a fifty-fifty basis. The first half was the better one from the point of view of good football, but the keen exchanges in the second compensated for any deterioration as regards finesse.

A roar of delight went up when it was seen that Ballymena's captain had won the toss. He decided to take advantage of the keen end-to-end breeze, and soon after the starting whistle the Ballymena forwards were in close grips with the Linfield backs, Cassidy, Shiels and Dalrymple working together in harmony and carrying play right into the danger zone.

In confronting the first Linfield raid, McNinch, who was facing the sun, headed the ball behind him, but Gough came out to cover up, and Bassnett cleared almost from the goal-line. Already play was very fast, and on the dry ground the ball was keen. Brisk exchanges were the order of the day, with keen forward play a feature.

Dalrymple led the next Ballymena attack, slinging across a fine centre with which Shiels just failed to connect, and the ball went to Gilmore, whose shot gave Lawson no trouble. At this early stage of the game Shiels limped to the line with an injured leg, but his absence was of short duration, for he was in the thick of the fight again a few minutes later.

A swift run by the Linfield forwards ended tamely enough when Greeve sent behind. Back they came, however, with Bambrick in the van, but just when he was getting into his stride McDiarmid frustrated his designs at the expense of conceding a corner, and after the flag kick Jones skied the ball over the bar. The next Linfield onslaught brought disaster to the Ballymena goal, some seven minutes after the kick-off. McCracken started a movement, in which he pushed the ball to Bambrick, who raced in and scored a beauty from inside the penalty area.

The equalising goal came swift and sudden, for immediately after the ball had been set in motion again Cassidy crossed out to Dalrymple, who centred splendidly for Gilmore to turn it into the net amidst tremendous excitement. Play was livelier than ever now, and the next minute Dalrymple, who was putting up a conspicuously good show on the wing, again dropped in a dangerous cross but Lawson fisted clear.

A 'free' to Ballymena was taken by Reid and Gilmore headed past by inches. The home front line showed excellent understanding working in absolute harmony and carrying play to the Linfield goal vicinity on every conceivable occasion. Certainly Brown and Frame were getting plenty to do, and Lawson was often active.

Bassnett received an ugly knock in the stomach, and though it must have pained him for considerable time afterwards, yet he carried on gallantly, giving nothing away. After Sloan had nipped a likely-looking Ballymena movement in the bud, the Linfield forwards dashed for the home goal, but McDiarmid dispossessed Houston when the winger was manoeuvring to get the ball across. A 'free' against McDiarmid called Gough into action, and he cleared well.

Later Gough conceded a corner, but Cassidy got the ball away. Dalrymple fired across another centre, and when the ball came out again he made a quick return, and Shiels flicked the ball with his head into Lawson's arms. It was a very good try on the spur of the moment.

At the end of twenty-four minutes' play Ballymena took the lead, Dalrymple lobbed the ball well into goal, and when it looked like going behind on the other side Kilpatrick headed to Gilmore, who placed neatly for Shiels to beat Lawson all the way. It was an outstanding bit of work and thoroughly deserved to be capped with a goal. On the run of play, Ballymena were easily worth their lead at this stage.

Even after this Linfield were obliged to play a defensive game. Cassidy, Shiels, and Kilpatrick took a hand in some dangerous close in work, and the opposing defence had to stretch themselves to avert further disaster. Once Bassnett dropped the ball into a bevy of players, and when it came out Howard had a try on his own, but it was charged down.

At centre-half Davy Reid was playing a brilliant game, tackling and spoiling, and building up attacks as only he can. He was a big force in all the Ballymena attacks. After a prolonged spell of Ballymena attack Linfield broke clear at last per Greeve and Bambrick, the latter sending out to Houston, who drove the ball across to the other side for McCaw to shoot weakly from a good position.

Ballymena received a 'free' against Brown, and Reid struck the bar with a great shot. On the rebound Cassidy returned, but off-side spoiled the chance. A great run by Dalrymple on a clear field found him making a bee-line for goal, and he would have been wise had he gone on his own, but on a signal from Cassidy he pushed the ball across, and the latter played whack but his shot had the misfortune to be charged down.

Away went the Linfield forwards to the other end, and when Bambrick had rounded McDiarmid and was racing for goal McNinch charged him from behind and the referee blew for a penalty. Sloan took the kick and piloted the ball safely into the net.

End-to-end play ruled after the resumption. A foul on Bassnett let Ballymena away from the subsquent 'free', and Gilmore sent over the bar. A determined Linfield attack ended in them receiving a corner, and another one followed on the other side of the field, but Jones headed over.

The visitors continued to do the attacking, but their efforts came to grief against a stone-wall defence. Bassnett cleared well in an emergency and allowed Dalrymple to get away on the right wing, from where he sent across a centre which found Gilmore waiting, but from the latter's pass Cassidy sent wide. In the next Linfield attack McCaw struck the upright, but Gough got the ball away and Reid carried play to the other half of the field again.

McNinch stopped Bambrick effectively, and then Howard placed for Shiels to miss narrowly with a clever shot. Shiels was going well for goal in the next minute when he was brought down heavily just outside the penalty area. Reid took the kick, but the phalanx of players in front of goal was an obstacle which was hard to overcome.

A pass from Bambrick enabled Houston to lead in, but when near goal Gough came out and put him off shit shot, and the ball went harmlessly past. Afterwards Bambrick led in himself, but when about to shoot he lost his balance and Gough had no difficulty in clearing.

The game was still fast and full of interesting play, and as the battle raged from end to end one was prepared for anything to happen. Both sides had opportunities but were unable to secure a much-coveted goal. Hesitation on McDiarmid's part allowed Greeve an opening, but he struck the side net.

At the other end Howard headed into goal, but Lawson punched clear. Kilpatrick and Gilmore also had tried, but Lawson was equal to them all. A shot by Reid obliged McCleery to concede a corner, and then at the Ballymena goal Bambrick got possession through a misunderstanding between Gough and McDiarmid, but the bets he could do was to strike the side net.

Exchanges were even at this stage, neither side being able to claim an advantage. Gough saved well from McCaw, and then after Dalrymple had outwitted a couple of opponents he was fouled. Reid took the kick, and in the subsequent melee two or three Ballymena forwards shot in quick succession, but eventually McCleery cleared from the goal line.

Ballymena were back quickly, and when Lawson pushed out from Kilpatrick, Cassidy trapped the ball, but his shot was a trifle high. Howard gave away a corner when Bambrick was pressing, but Houston's kick was carried behind by the breeze. In the closing minutes Linfield made a last desperate attempt and forced a corner, but Jones shot over.

Match report written by Ballymena Observer (21 March 1930)

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