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League (Irish League)
James McCambridge (55)
W. McClean (Belfast) (Referee)
Ballymena travelled to Lurgan on Saturday last to meet Glenavon, and took with them good support, approximately 250 of their followers travelling in a special train.
A stiff breeze blew from goal to goal, and winning the toss Glenavon set Ballymena to face this. Before the Ballymena players had taken up their appointed positions the ball was kicked off and Glenavon made for goal, but the venue was quickly changed, and in a flash and despite the breeze Ballymena were in the goal vicinity where Shaw centered for Shiels to head in, and McMahon threw himself full length at the ball to avert danger at the expense of a corner.
Helped by the breeze, Glenavon kept up a sustained attack for a time, but offisde spoiled favourable openings on two occasions. A spell of midfield play followed, and then Toman sent in from the left, but the ball sailed over. A long drive from Andrews hit the crossbar and on the rebound Moore got possession and gave to George Silcock, who sent the ball right between McNinch's legs into the net for the opening goal, Gough having no chance, as several players were in his line of vision.
This reverse so early in the game was not encouraging for Ballymena, but they did not take it lying down. In a trice they were in the danger zone again, where D. Reid volleyed in a great shot, McMahon punching clear. Play veered to the Ballymena right wing, and Cunning passed to Shiels, who in turn gave to Shaw, the latter putting in a beauty which McMahon stopped well.
Becoming dangerous again, Glenavon crowded the Ballymena backs, and only good judgement on the part of McNinch saved the situation, this player effecting a splendid clearance when sorely harried by the opposing forwards. McCambridge let the visitors away, and Shiels ran right through the defence and gave McMahon a warm handful which he saved at the upright.
Glenavon attacked time and again, but the stubborn defence of the home backs, coupled with Gough's good goalkeeping, kept them out. Then McMahon stumbled when Shiels shot, but recovered sufficiently to save his charge. A shot by Moore from eighteen yards range found Gough ready. Further pressure by the homesters got them two corners, but good defensive play prevented a score.
A fast run by Ballymena soon saw them at the opposite end, where from Cunning's centre Shaw forced a corner, but the flag kick was unavailing. The narrowest escape which the Glenavon goal had in this half was where a lovely shot from D. Reid bounced on the bar and went behind. Up to the interval end-to-end play was the rule, and the teams crossed over.
Glenavon were first to be dangerous on the restart, but very soon Ballymena took up the attack, and a shot from Howard just missed its objective. Then J. Reid, who so often opens up the way for a goal, sent a well-placed ground pass to Shiels who, after evading a couple of opponents, lifted the ball in to James McCambridge, the last named breasting it and then lifted it adroitly over the head of McMahon, who had run out to meet him, into the net for the equaliser. It was an exceptionally well-taken goal, and was greeted by tremendous applause by the Ballymena contingent.
With the score now level both teams were intent on gaining the lead and a stiff battle ensued, in which there was not a moment's respite. After a shot by J. Reid had failed, Glenavon were again prominent, but found Gough ready for all emergencies. Subsequent pressure by Glenavon taxed the abilities of the Ballymena defence, and it was D. Reid who eventually stemmed the tide and left the visitors away for Shiels to be beaten by McMahon on the goal line.
Further end-to-end play brought some sharp exchanges. McCambridge tried another shot but it was a trifle high. Ballymena at the moment were having the major share of the play, and almost scored when Shiels headed in following a corner, but McMahon was on the spot. Silcock went off injured, but resumed later. A series of attacks by Ballymena tested the home defence acutely, and both backs and the goalie had scarcely a slack minute.
For yet another time Glenavon made headway against the wind, and in clearing from McBridge, Gough took the ball round the post for a corner. In the closing minutes Ballymena made great strides and worked with might and main for the winning goal. Howard let Shaw away and the winger punted into centre where Shiels slipped in front of goal at the critical moment. With only a minute or so to go, McNinch, from the half-way line, lifted the ball right into goal, and when McMahon had brought down the ball, but failed to hold it, Mitchell had the chance of a lifetime, but sent yards wide.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (2 November 1928)
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