5 - 3
5 - 3
League (Irish League)
Jamie Shiels (10)
Sam McAdam (11)
J. Williams (Bolton) (Referee)
Ballymena's spectators were flushed with pleasure on Saturday at the defeat of Distillery by their favourites.
The Whites came down with a strong eleven determined to refute the critics who prophesied a win for Ballymena, but their hopes were dashed to the ground. Not until well on in the second half, however, was the issue put beyond doubt by Cunning's goal, and even then Distillery played with a persistency and gameness which won the admiration of the crowd. The weather was propitious, and there was a good attendance, the gate receipts amounted to £60 7s.
The start was delayed for a quarter of an hour owing to the late arrival of the visitors and the referee. There was applause when Davy Reid won the toss and elected to play with the breeze. Ballymena were first to attack, and had a fast run to the opposite goal, but the defence had the best of the argument and allowed Blair to make progress along the left wing, the ball being eventually swung in to Sinnamon, who put behind. Palmer was called on to save from McCambridge, and when Distillery were pressing a free to Ballymena stopped the attack. Mitchell carried play along the field after getting possession from J. Reid, and passed neatly to Shiels, whose shot went wide of the mark. The leader of the home attack came into the picture again a minute later when he beat Burnison in a race for the ball, but his subsequent shot was too weak to be dangerous.
Play was fast with plenty of 'go' in it, both teams working strenuously for the opening goal, which, when it came, was followed with remarkable swiftness by two others. The first goal came when the game was about ten minutes old, McCambridge passing nicely for Jamie Shiels to get the better of Burnison and put between the posts well out of Palmer's reach. Within a minute the teams were again on level terms, Sam McAdam scoring from Blair's pass. The Whites had their colours nailed to the mast, so to speak, and with a great swoop they bore down on the home goal and forced a corner, which was unavailing. Returning to the attack, play went to the right win, where Dalrymple curved in from the wing and dropped the ball in front of goal, leaving David Ostle nothing to do but tip it over the line.
What a change had come over the game in the space of a few minutes! Now began a battle royal, with Distillery again on the ascendant Dalrymple shooting in for Gough to save. McAdams had got away on a dangerous run when McDiarmid failed to stop his progress at the first attempt, but he made a splendid recovery, and in the tussle a free was given to the homesters. Ballymena gradually overcame the opposition and carried play to the opposite end, where Palmer saved from Shaw.
Then a nice movement began in midfield with D. Reid punting nicely to Shaw who lobbed neatly into the centre for Jamie Shiels to equalise with a well-timed header. Scarcely had the teams got going again when Cunning dropped a beauty in front of goal and James McCambridge headed through the homesters third. It was a great bit of work well done. Another dangerous centre by Cunning caused an anxious minute for the Distillery defence, but McCambridge sent behind.
A very questionable corner was given to Distilley, J. Reid clearing with his head. Then Cunning sent in what was perhaps the finest centre of the match, the ball dropping a foot in front of goal, where McCambridge breasted it, but Palmer got his foot at it and it went sailing over the bar for a corner. Another ground shot by Cunning went abegging. Just prior to the interval Gough saved a couple of good tries.
The first incident of note on resuming was a corner to Ballymena, Cunning placing well into centre, but the defence prevailed. Distillery had a grand opportunity to equalise when Blair ran right into centre and was about to shoot with nobody facing him but Palmer when J. Reid stepped in and tipped into Gough's hands for the latter to clear. The visitors had a gift in the next minute but Gough sized up the situation admirably and made a magnificent save from David Ostle, who was only two yards out. The home goalie save his charge yet another time when out of goal by throwing himself full length at the ball and pushing it past for a corner.
After this spell of pressure it was Ballymena's time to do something, and they were within an ace of scoring when Cunning headed in from Shaw's centre, but Palmer tipped over the bar just in the nick of time. Shiels made ground on a clear field but Mullan conceded a corner in order to save the goal. McCambridge netted but the point was disallowed.
At this stage the match was intensely exciting, and both defences were taxed to the utmost by the respective sets of forwards, who were always nippy on the ball. Play fluctuated from one end to the other with surprising rapidity, and it was touch and go which side would find the net first. Eventually Ballymena had this distinction, a splendid ground pass up the centre by J. Reid sending Jamie Shiels away on a race in which he beat Mullan and shot for goal, the ball hitting the upright and rolling into the net.
Distillery were now thoroughly on their mettle. With a bound they were at the opposite end and received a corner from which McNinch made a timely clearance almost from the goal line after Gough had failed to fist clear. Ballymena again got away and McCambridge was making great strides when he was held up by an opposing player locking his foot, but the referee ignored the incident. Once again Gough proved his dependability by making a brilliant save when it seemed a sure cert that McAdams would score. Following an abortive corner the visitors returned to the attack and Ostle made good use of an opportunity, beating Gough all the way.
With only a goal separating the teams the concluding stages were alive with interest, but the crowd had not long to wait for another goal. Howard let Shiels away, and the latter beat Mullan and placed for David Cunning to put on the finishing touch. Then followed a critical moment at the home end but Gough was up to standard. A couple of runs to both found the defenders and then the game was over.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (12 October 1928)
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