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League (Irish League)
H. Haworth (Blackpool) (Referee)
The meeting of Ballymena and Coleraine attracted a very large attendance to the Showgrounds, Coleraine, on Saturday, the 'gate' amounting to £102.
A special train carried something like a thousand supporters from Ballymena, and there were special trains from Derry, Magherafelt, and Ballymoney. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were not at all proportions, an icy blast blowing almost directly across the field. It played pranks with the ball, and at the same time was a source of discomfort to the spectators, who were unprotected by any covering.
Starting with the breeze advantage, Coleraine were soon in the Ballymena end, but McDiarmid repulsed the attack. Play went to the Ballymena left where Shaw led along the wing and centred beautifully, but McKinney got there first and headed the ball against McCambridge, after which it rebounded over the line. A free against Shiels gave Coleraine an opportunity to open up the attack. However, the Ballymena halves checked the movement and let the front line away, after which a free was given against Doherty for over-carrying, D. Reid placed the ball wel, but Clarke sent behind. Another free kick to Ballymena gave them a chance, but the wind carried the ball to touch.
A fast attack by the Whites went merrily until McNinch made a hefty clearance. Catching a dropping shot from Graham, the Ballymena goalie dropped the ball, and just as Gilmore was on him ready to score Gough scrambled the ball clear, and Ballymena raced to the opposite end, where Doherty saved from Clarke. In the next home attack Morris collided with Howard and was injured, but soon resumed. Gough failed to clear a dropping shot by Graham, and J. Gilmore had headed into goal when McNinch came on the scene and cleared just in time.
End to end play followed, both goals coming in for hot attacks, but the respective defences held their own. A corner to each team still left the match scoreless. In a Coleraine attack J. Gilmour came into collision with McDiarmid and lay prostrate on the field, while a section of the spectators shouted at the referee to stop the game, but play continued until ultimately the ball went to touch. After attention, Gilmour resumed. In the closing minutes of this half McCambridge had a drive for goal, but his effort just failed. A free to Coleraine brought an element of danger, which was dispelled when McCambridge broke up the attack.
Coleraine resumed well against the breeze, and Nelis opened up the way for Gilmour to have a pot at goal, but the shot went wide of the mark. Ballymena retaliated with a lively movement, in which Howard essayed a long drive, and the ball bounced off McKinney's head into Doherty's arms.
In a trice the Whites were back again in the Ballymena goal-mouth, where Murphy was fouled and a penalty awarded. From the spot kick, Murphy shook the bar, but Gough had the shot covered. An abortive corner followed. A free against Gough for over-carrying saw he Ballymena goal in danger again and aregular melee ensued for a minute or two, but eventually the tide was turned, and Ballymena came away per McCambridge and Shaw, and just when things looked nice the referee blew for offside.
In sending the ball back to Gough, J. Reid struck the bar at a fast pace. Gilmour broke through for Coleraine and was brought down just outside the penalty area, but went on and netted, the backs standing aside, as the referee had signalled a free. The kick proved unavailing. Later Gough fisted over for a corner. Ballymena forced play to the opposite end, where Shaw sent past. Another Ballymena rally saw Shiels almost through, but he was floored by the two backs. In the next Coleraine movement Nelis struck the cross-bar with a grand try. However, in spite of all their efforts. Coleraine were without the desired goal. With only a minute to go, Ballymena forced a corner and looked like scoring just when the whistle went for the last time.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (21 December 1928)
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