3 - 3
3 - 3
League (Irish League)
James McCambridge (5)
Jamie Shiels (43)
Jamie Shiels (90)
James Gilmour (23)
James Gilmour (26)
James Gilmour (78)
C. Devine (Londonderry) (Referee)
A great crowd, estimated at about 5,000 saw the game of their lives last Saturday evening, when Ballymena's display against Coleraine won for them unstinted praise and established them as firm favourites in the eyes of the townspeople.
A more exciting finish has scarecly ever been seen locally. With just two minutes to go Ballymena were a goal down and looked like losing a match in which they had the major portion of the play, when Shiels scored what was perhaps the best goal of the six and sent the local partisans into rapturous delight. It was a game chockful of thrills.
The match started at a rattling pace, which continued all through this half. Coleraine won the toss and set Ballymena to face the sun and in the first minute the visitors got a free against McCambridge. The pressure was almost instantly relieved, however, and creeping up the Ballymena forwards had a tussle with the defence, which eventually prevailed, but J. Reid got possession and essayed the first shot of the game, which went past. Ballymena then opened up with a regular series of attacks in which there was plenty of ginger, swinging the ball about from wing to wing with a machine-like precision which was delightful to see. For a time they completely non-plussed the Coleraine defence, and it was only Coscadden's dependability in goal which prevented disaster in the opening minutes, when from Webster's centre Shiels headed in and the goal picked up at once.
But it was impossible for the Coleraine citadel to withstand such pressure and such brilliant tactics. With a swinging rush that nothing could stop the locals made for goal like men inspired, D. Reid sending onto Bentley, who crossed in neatly for McCambridge to steer the ball deftly past Corscadden for the opening goal, just about five minutes after the kick-off.
The enthusiasm of the local crowd knew no bounds. At this stage, and for some time afterwards it looked as if Ballymena were going to overrun their opponents, so inspiring was their play. Ultimately Coleraine came away per Doherty, who, taking the ball right along the wing, ended up by sending behind. An accidental 'hands' by McNinch just outside the dreaded area gave the visitors a chance, but Nelis's shot was rather high. They had a grand opening a minute later, when from Doherty's pass Gilmour skied high over the bar when he might have used the occasion to better advantage.
Returning to the attack, Ballymena made ground, and a shot from J. Reid caused a gasp of excitement when Corscadden pushed it over the bar for a corner. From this flag kick the goalie gave away an other, but the lines were cleared. Play was soon in the Ballymena end again, where Gough caught a shot from McLaughlin just below the bar.
From a corner to Ballymena D. Reid sent past. There was an anxious moment at the home goal when Gough fisted out a shot, but McNinch cleared to touch. Shiels was unfortunate to miss a glorious opening when a goal seemed certain, and not long afterwards Morrow had the hardest of lines from a corner. From another corner Mitchell headed in, but Corscadden was ready. A grand attack by Coleraine spelt disaster when from Doherty's centre Gilmour headed past Gough for the equaliser. It was a brilliant touch, and Coleraine deserved their success.
Consternation was caused not long afterwards, when from a throw-in, Gilmour got possession and put his team ahead when Gough was running out to kick clear. The score was now clearly against the balance of the play, but Coleraine were quick on their chances.
The rebuff, however, did not damp Ballymena's ardour. They worked like trojans and subjected the opposing goal to a gruelling test. Once when it was long odds that Shiels would score in front of an open goal he used too much elevation. A corner saw no change in the score. A long drive from a free taken by J. Reid gave Mitchell a chance, and he hit the cross-bar, Shiels then missing a gift. Ballymena's efforts were at length capped when, from a goal-kick, Morrow trapped neatly and pushed forward between the backs for Shiels to beat them in a great sprint and score the equaliser, leaving Corscadden not 'an earthly'.
Things looked black for the homesters when McLaughlin got away on a clear field, but McDairmid nipped in and made a timely clearance. Gough was called on to dive at a shot from O'Donnell, which rolled past on the other side.
With their backs to the sun, Ballymena made things hum on the re-start. At first Coleraine were aggressive, and from a free Everett punted in, but the ball was cleared. Following an abortive corner to Coleraine, Webster led up along the line and forced a corner, and from a second flag kick the goalie saved from Morrow. For a time the Coleraine goal was subjected to tremendous pressure, shots raining in from all angles. First, J. Reid sent in a flier which just missed its mark, and then the homesters had a couple of corners in quick succession, but although Bentley placed both well, nothing came off them.
Hardly was the ball in play again when Bentley banged in a 'shorter,' and Corscadden had to use all of his wits to steer it round the post for a corner. At this stage the visitors were absolutely playing a defensive game and one wondered how the goal escaped at all. Eventually play was transferred to the other end, and Gough relieved a dangerous situation by picking the ball up almost from O'Donnell's foot. The local goalie again saved from a free, and then Shiels once more got a move on and placed nicely for Morrow to fail at the post.
A spell of midfield play was followed by Morrow sending over from a few yards out. Coleraine again became dangerous, and at a critical moment McNinch effected a great clearance which won him deserved applause. Another corner to Ballymena failed in its design, as also did a shot from Webster. With the game nearing its closing stages, Coleraine got a spurt on, O'Donnell working through a slack defence and placing for Gilmour to perform the 'hat-trick', to the conquering cheers of the Coleraine supporters.
A great battle royal now commenced. Coleraine were determined to hold their lead, and a duel, which carried a great issue for Ballymena, was fought out in grand style. With only a couple of minutes to go, the home forwards were galvanised into great activity. Morrow took the ball up and punted to Shiels almost in front of goal, and Shiels, by a herculean effort, waded through a phalanx of opponents and scored a beauty. Hardly had the thunderous applause died down when the match was over.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (7 September 1928)
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