2 - 2
League (Irish League)
Fred Roberts* (35)
Samuel Scott (72)
John Reid (65)
Richard Shaw (69)
M. Quinn (Lanarkshire) (Referee)
Ballymena made their first appearance in Belfast on Saturday, when they met the undefeated Glentoran at the Oval before a large crowd, the gate reciepts amounting to Â£142. Beautiful autumnal weather favoured the fixtures, but a blinding sun was a large factor in the game. If Glentoran imagined they would easily dispose of Ballymena they had a rude shock coming to them. The game in the second half especially provided any amount of thrills, and there was an element of suspense in it right up to the finish.
The game started sharp to time with Ballymena facing the suns and so labouring at a disadvantage. The opening minutes were tame, the first excitement coming later when Hutchinson missed a good chance. Following this D. Reid conceded a corner but danger was averted. A run on the Ballymena right saw Bentley passing into Shields, who failed to get in his kick.
Again Bentley crossed for Mitchell to send behind. Things looked well for the Glens when McKeague was well away, but he met his master in McDiarmid, who sent eh teams right about. Shaw and Mitchell carried play up the wing, playing some neat football, when McKeown cleared his lines. Ballymena, however, returned to the attack, Shiels send out to Bentley who drove in hard for Ward to fling himself at the ball and concede a corner.
Shaw crossed in well for, and the ball dropped in front of goal for Mitchell to head over the bar. A sweeping attack by Glentoran brought danger to the Ballymena goal and a great fight for the mastery ensued, D. Reid eventually easing the pressure. Hutchinson got into a likely position but skied the ball over the bar. Even against the glare of the sun Ballymena made headway, and from a corner J. Reid headed over. McNinch and McDiarmid put up a splendid defence, and but for their meritorious display the homesters might have been through on more than one occasion.
Applause greeted a great try by Geary and then Scott shot, and when Gough had saved Geary fouled him and bundled the ball into the net but the point was properly disallowed. The Ovalites returned to the attack, and when hard pressed McCambridge gave away a corner, from which Anderson missed. At the opposite end McKeown failed to stop Shaw, and the latter crossed in to Shiels whose shot was saved by Ward.
The first goal came after thirty-five minutes play, when Roberts headed through from Scott's pass, Gough being out of reach of the ball, which went in at a deceiving angle. This put more dash into the game and play became very fast. Bentley forced a corner, but the flag kick was abortive.
A nice forward movement saw Ballymena well away and another corner was forced, but Shaw was soon on the ball again and, with McCambridge, carried play to the home end, the movement culminating in Mitchell sending over. At this stage Ballymena were decidedly on the aggressive, and the Glens' defence was kept busy, Shiels gave McCambridge a fine opening, but Ward exercised good judgement and ran out to meet the shot. Just on the interval Shiels raised hopes, but a weak shot proved of no avail.
After a short spurt by the Ovalites, Ballymena forced the pace and went all out for the equaliser, forcing three corners in quick succession. Then Glentoran for the opposite end where Anderson's try went over. From a free to Ballymena J. Reid put behind. The Ballymena left wing got going again and from a corner by Shaw, John Reid headed in and Ward caught the ball but drew his arms far back over the line and the referee gave the goal.
It seemed, indeed, that the ball was over the line before Ward got his hands on it. The Ballymena supporters yelled joyfully and shouted encouragement to their team. Gough was called on to save from Roberts, and afterwards he succeeded in getting the ball away from amongst an army of opponents. Urged on by their contingent of loyal supporters Ballymena made their presence felt, and a great shot from Mitchell just missed the mark.
There was intense excitement in the game now and the Ballymena onlookers went wild with delight when Shaw put them ahead. The movement which led up to the goal was due to J. Reid's fine tactics in "drawing" a couple of opponents and then putting along the wing to Bentley, who gave Shaw the chance which he utilised so well. A goal down now, the Ovalites made strenuous efforts to retrieve their lost fortunes. First a corner came their way, and then Robers sent high over.
Play was not long in swinging to the opposite goal, where Ward saved his charge well from McCambridge and Shiels. Two corners to Ballymena made no change to the score. McKeague went off for a shot spell with an injury. A free was given to the Glens and a corner ensued, but Gough effected a grand save. A great effort by Shiels saw him beat Carleton in a fast race, but when the centre-forward was getting ready to shoot Ward saved from Shaw.
Bentley was injured but was soon able to resume. In the closing stages Stewart hit the Ballymena bar, and when full-time arrived Hutchinson had just taken a corner.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (5 October 1928)
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