3 - 3
Irish Cup (Round 1)
William Moore (28)
Johnny Geary (40)
Richard Shaw (17)
James McCambridge (67)
P. Craigmyle (Aberdeen) (Referee)
For the second time this season Ballymena visited the Oval on Saturday, this occasion being the first stage of the Irish Cup.
Like the League fixture a few weeks ago, the match ended in a draw, after a long-drawn-out struggle in which there was no question as to which team played the better football, Ballymena again having this distinction. The ground was in a deplorable condition, one end being a veritable quagmire, in which the surface waster was soon churned into mud. This, more than anything else, prevented Ballymena from augmenting their score in the first half, even although they were placed at a disadvantage in having to face a wind of gale force.
With a breeze of almost gale force blowing down the field from the city end, the winning of the toss meant a lot to Glentoran. In addition to facing a head-on breeze, Ballymena were also handicapped by the appalling condition of the ground directly in front of the Glentoran goal, and at least twice in this half Shiels would have been through only for the ball sticking fast in the mud.
Glentoran went off with a rush at the start, and Gough handled early on from Moore, and then saved from a free. Ballymena made headway in spite of the wind, but were pulled up by Stewart fouling, and from the free Carleton cleared to touch. Shiels came into prominence by slogging away through the mud and beating several opponents, and then he crossed out to Shaw, who gave Ward a nice handful. In Ballymena's next attack Shaw received a shower of mud and water full in the face and was unsighted for a minute.
A free kick taken by Moore just outside the penalty line was charged down, but Moore came rushing in and gave Gough a terrific shot which he saved magnificently. Further pressure by the Glens taxed the visiting defence, but eventually McCambridge got the ball away and put out to Shaw, who met a stout opposition the ball eventually going behind. In a Glentoran attack McNinch let in Roberts, who whizzed a beauty just over the bar. D. Reid started another Ballymena attack, and the forward division were doing lovely when Clarke shot across, but Mitchell was pulled up for offside.
Ballymena lost a glorious opportunity when Shiels forced a corner, and from the kick, taken by Clarke, Shaw sent the ball along the ground in front of goal, but there was nobody there to touch it into the net, and it rolled harmlessly past. Returning to the attack, the visitors looked more businesslike than ever, and Clarke fired across for Shaw to shoot, and the goalie saved on the ground, but Richard Shaw rushed in and netted the opening goal, having to step across Ward's body. Seventeen minutes of the game had gone at this stage.
Faced with this unexpected reverse, Glentoran made great strides, and there followed a sort of rugby scramble in front of the Ballymena goal, the pressure only being relieved when the ball was cleared for a corner. McDiarmid made another timely clearance, but the Glens came back and forced a further corner, from which McCambridge cleared. The Ballymena goal had another narrow shave when McKeague shot into centre and Roberts headed past by inches. Roberts' next shot sailed high over the bar. Gough dealt with shots from Geary and McKeague, and then from a throw-in the ball went to William Moore, who equalised at the end of twenty-eight minutes play.
McCambridge got away from the kick-off and was going valiantly through the mud when brought down almost on the penalty line. From the kick D. Reid landed the ball well in front of goal, where his brother John headed into a ruck of players, and it eventually went to touch. A free against Stewart let Ballymena away, and then Shiels made for goal and had beaten both backs when the ball stuck in the mud, and he was unable to dislodge it before McKeown and Carleton were on him. Ward stopped an easy shot from McCambridge. At the other end Stewart essayed a try, but the ball was deflected for a corner.
Then Mitchell made a fatal mistake which cost Ballymena a goal. He had the ball well away when instead of putting up to Shiels or out to Shaw he passed back and allowed Gray to nip in and give Glentoran the lead. Gough was called on to save in face of much opposition just before the interval.
The wind had abated somewhat when the teams re-appeared but contrary to expectations, Glentoran had the lion's share of the play for a considerable period. They played a fine game on the resumption and the Ballymena backs had a strenuous time in the mud. Moore sent over from a free, and McKeague dropped one on the bar. Then Ballymena rushed to the extreme end, but in spite of two corners were unable to find the net. Roberts had a magnificent opening when he beat McNinch and a goal seemed certain, but Gough took the risk, and running out, put the Glentoran man off his shot, but at the expense of a corner.
It was a typical cup-tie, with both teams going all out and the game never slackening in its appeal. On the left McDiarmid was pounded mercilessly, but the way he stood up to tremendous strain won the admiration of the crowd. A beautifully placed free kick taken by J. Reid on the line saw the ball swerving into centre, and like a flash James McCambridge was on it and had it in the net with a header before the Glentoran defence knew quite what had happened. It was a splendid goal, and with the defence seemingly petrified it looked so easy.
Hardly had the cheering died away before Thomas McKeague, from Geary's pass, placed Glentoran ahead again. The homesters looked like adding to the score when Moore beat McNinch, but the latter made a good recovery and saved the goal at the expense of a corner. Excitement ran high when Shiels waded through the opposition and was going well for goal when in the excitement of the moment he pushed an opponent, and a free was given. Another free to Glentoran saw Gough handle well. Coming away again, McCambridge led along the field and put across to Mitchell, but Ward saved the shot.
Following a spell of attack by the Glens, Ballymena once more assumed the aggressive and played a very fine game. John Reid tipped the ball into his brother Davy, who in spite of being harassed by opponents got it across to James McCambridge, who ran in and scored the equaliser amidst a tornado of Ballymena cheers. The Glens pressed, but in spite of a free kick and a corner, could not find the net, Gough being in great form in goal. Scott went off for a couple of minutes owing to an injury. Clarke forced a corner, and then Mitchell shot over to the left wing, where McCambridge was on the ball at a bound, but failed at the post.
The closing minutes were no less exciting than what had gone before, the teams fighting as dourly as ever right up to the final whistle.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (30 November 1928)
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