3 - 5
League (Irish League)
W. McClean (Belfast) (Referee)
For the second time in their short history, and after a long succession of away draws, Ballymena won a fixture away from home on Saturday, this time at the expense of Portadown.
A general feeling of optimism pervaded the large contingent of supporters which travelled by special train, and the result of 5-3 in Ballymena's favour roused tremendous enthusiasm, all the party being in jovial mood on the journey home.
A good breeze blew diagonally along the field at Shamrock Park, and winning the toss, Ballymena took advantage of this, but they had to face the sun. The home side were first to open up the attack, Gough picking up from Blair in the first minute. Ballymena were not long in making their presence felt, Shaw driving hard in for Casement to gather up the ball at the upright. Very soon Clarke drew attraction to the right wing by having a splendid run which ened in him forcing a corner.
Ballymena had now assumed the upper hand and were playing a bustling game which was an ever-increasing source of danger to the Portadown citadel. Shaw slung the ball into centre, and Shiels had a great race for it, but Casement got there first and cleared. J. Reid, however, trapped nearby and fired in a shot which was only saved at the expense of a corner, following which a free was given against Ballymena in the melee which ensued.
Clarke raced along the wing again, and after making short work of the opposition, crossed into centre, and one of the backs headed past for a corner, from which McCambridge nodded over. From a further centre from Clarke, who was playing an admirable game, Shiels shot, but the keeper charged down. Then the home goal had another narrow escape with Shiels in attendance. Ballymena's efforts were eventually rewarded when from a free taken by D. Reid, J. Reid headed in to James McCambridge in front of goal, and the latter beat Casement with a neat header.
At length the Ports came away and Johnston beat the backs, but Gough was ready and picked up easily. The Ballymena captain took another free, only to send the ball straight into Casement's arms. The home goalie had stopped a try from Shiels on the line when he was rushed, and the referee blew for a free. In the next Portadown attack McNinch cleared his lines, and then Shaw took the ball along the left wing and fired into centre, Walter Clarke running in like a flash from the right and banging the ball into the roof of the net for the second goal.
The third came almost immediately afterwards, Shaw placing for McCambridge to shoot, but Casement charged down the shot and then James Mitchell took time by the forelock and ran in to leave Casement not an earthly.
Play went to the Ballymena end, where the homesters received a free, but McNinch proved himself capable of dealing with the situation and made a magnificent clearance in the face of much opposition. The right back, however, was beaten by O'Reilly in the next attack, but Gough, sizing up the situation, ran out to clear. Shiels made ground and punted out to Clarke, who forced a corner. Then McNinch, clearing from his own side of the half-way line, dropped a great shot right into goal, but Casement managed to hold.
Pressure by the Ports saw the visiting defence well beaten, and Harry Johnston ran in to beat Gough well. However, Ballymena were not long in regaining their three-goal lead, J. Reid sending to Jamie Shiels, who, after beating Allen, scored a beauty. The homesters attacked again, and O'Reilly sent in for Doherty to shoot, but Gough held the high shot well. Three corners in quick succession to Portadown brought danger, but J. Reid cleared eventually with a great header. Gough saved from a free kick and later stopped a try from O'Reilly.
Ballymena resumed without Shiels, but he came on in a couple of minutes and received a great ovation. He had been getting treatement for an injury received in the first half, and it was noticed that he limped as he ran to take up his position.
Portadown had now the wind behind them and were putting up a stubborn fight for goals. Gough stopped a hot shot from Johnston on the goal line, but Hugh Blair, running in, drove the ball hard into the net to reduce the lead. Gough was injured in the fray but made a speedy recovery. Portadown kept up a running series of attacks, and were a source of much worry to the opposing defence, who although hard put to it at times, kept the opposition out of shooting distance. Ballymena, however, gradually forced play to the home end and from a free taken by D. Reid Mitchell struck the upright, and on the rebound James McCambridge scored Ballymena's fifth. This was followed quickly by Portadown scoring their third per William Kimlin, after Gough had saved from another forward.
Thereafter Ballymena pressed and Shield was almost through on a couple of occasions, but he drove the ball too far ahead, allowing Casement to get there first. McNinch conceded a corner and then at the other end D. Reid gave the goalie a hot handful. For a long period the game developed into a regular series of throw-ins on the Ballymena right, the brothers Reid, especially John, getting the ball every time from Watson and heading to touch, thus checking Portadown's efforts and spoiling their chances. Towards the close Howard let Clarke away, but the wind turned the latter's shot and carried the ball behind. O'Reilly had a good opening in the last minute but failed badly.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (23 November 1928)
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