2 - 0
Gold Cup (Round 1)
Bob McGee (47)
R. Clarke (89)
W. McClean (Belfast) (Referee)
Ballymena put up a rather disappointing display against Ards in the first round of the Gold Cup at Newtownards on Wednesday evening.
It was their first cup-tie, and after the brilliancy of their play against Coleraine last Saturday we were fully prepared to see them negotiating the first hurdle of the Cup competition; in fact, the 500 odd supporters who travelled with them were optimistic, even to the point of predicting a win by goals.
Certainly on form Ballymena were deemed the likely winners, but they struck a bad patch and had a reversal of form which made it almost difficult to believe they were the same eleven that took a point from Coleraine.
The weather was depressing, rain falling steadily during the entire match, the game was nothing to boast about, and for Ballymena the result was sorely disappointing. When the match was about to begin there was a preponderance of Ballymena faces amongst the spectators, and it looked as if Ards had very meagre local support, but gradually the crowd swelled until there was almost a respectable attendance, that is for a senior match.
Looking back on the game one cannot but realise that Ballymena played too much parlour football, which was totally unsuited to the slippery ground, and that where Ards showed sound common sense was by punting the ball up field every time and banging for goal when they got the opportunity.
I would not say that Ballymena were beaten by a better team, that is as far as the individual players are concerned, but that they were beaten by a team who made their play suit the conditions and who were content to 'get there' anyhow, oblivious to the fact as to whether they displayed 'finish' or not. Generally when they got the ball they propelled it towards the opposite goal by the quickest available route, whereas in the Ballymena ranks there was a lot of back passing which, although nice to look at, was of no conceivable assistance to the team and will have to be dropped if they want to win matches.
The brothers Reid, otherwise good, were the worst offenders in this respect, and we would have liked to see them play the ball more forward. As a contrast McCambridge did not stand long on ceremony: he got the ball up the field every game, thus allowing the forwards to gain ground, and the game was kept moving. When the ball was put back the Ards players were allowed time to cover up, and this was much of the mischief was done.
Ards, of course, had the advantage of playing on their own ground, which meant something to them. Ballmena Seemed out of their element. There was something amiss in the front rank, who, while working hard enough, displayed lack of cohesion, although on occasions they did show a burst or two. Shiels perhaps their most dangerous man, was well nigh starved, at least in the first half. Mostly the ball was slung out to the wings and before it could get in Garrett or Barrett usually got the upper hand and transferred the venue up-field.
The first half was scoreless. Once or twice Ards were nearly through, but between Gough and the backs disaster was averted. One time Gough was out of goal and McNinch saved a dangerous situation at the last minute by manoeuvring a corner. McMullan had some hot moments in the Ards goal, particularly when Morrow sent in a high shot which he put over, and when he brought down a 'stinger' from J. Reid. Another narrow shave was when from Webster's corner kick the ball bounced on the bar. The Ballymena goal also escaped on occasions, once when Barrett took a free and the ball bounced on the bar and went over.
Young Clarke on the Ards left wing was dangerous, and caused McNinch many a trying moment. The teams were turned right about at half-time, for already the light was not of the best. About two minutes after the restart Bob McGee opened the scoring with a long drive which was too tricky for Gough. Ballymena made great strides to make amends, but McMullan kept his charge well. Mitchell was injured and retired for a quarter of an hour. When a goal seemed certain at the Ballymena end McNinch proved a saviour to his side once more.
About the only dangerous shot which McMullan got this half was from Bentley, and he saved it well. Others had tries, particularly Morrow, but they were on the weak side. When running for the ball once with a clear field Shiels had the misfortune to slip on the wet grass and see a good chance go begging. The same player worked hard for a goal near the end but could not get his shot in. Almost on time R. Clarke scored the homesters' second goal in the fast-fading light, leaving his team winners by two goals.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (7 September 1928)
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