7 - 0
7 - 0
League (Irish League)
W. Boyd (Belfast) (Referee)
Ballymena have returned to form again. Following the bad patch which they struck for a period of five or six weeks, during which time illness and injuries took their toll and disorganised the team completely, they came back with a single bound to old-time form. After the ragged displays which followed one another so closely, it was heartening to see such a contrast. It was clear also that the team, collectively and indvidually, are again imbued with the spirit of confidence which served them so well in the first half of the season, when they crested the wave of victory. Now that we feel sure they are out of the trough, we confidently look forward to them finishing the season well.
The crowd was delighted to see that master craftsman, Davy Reid, back in the centre-half position, and it roared a welcome to him and his brother John, and Shiels, all of whom have been off for some weeks, as filed out with the team. Cassidy, Ballymena's latest acquistion, had a special cheer all to himself on making his debut with Ballymena. It is no exaggeration to say that he has been the chief topic of the week. Everybody is delighted with him.
The ground was in a pretty soft condition, much softer than has been the case since the start of the season, but it afforded a firmer foothold than the hard, frosty ground so prevalent recently. McCambridge was off the Ballymena team for the first time, owing to the death of a friend. Croft and Sayers, who of the Island's stalwarts, were off with the flu.
Winning the toss, Ballymena played with the aid of a light breeze, and from the very outset were by far the superior team. It was not long before Preston was called into action, and then Gough saved from Clarke, but neither effort taxed the goalies. Early in the game the Island backs adopted off-side tactics, evidently relying on the mode of play as calculated to keep down the score, and time and again the Ballymena forwards were caught napping. But eventually they learned their lesson. Nevertheless, Henderson and McKeveney persisted in their offside game, and it was this that was to cause the Island's downfall later on.
Ballymena continued to make progress, and we saw Cassidy really in action for the first time when he accepted a pass from Howard and outwitted several opponents, only to send wide at the end. But he was only just getting his bearings, and the crowd applauded the effort. In the next minute he placed beautifully for Shaw to lead along the wing and centre into Shiels, who tipped the ball into Preston's arms. From a well-taken corner by Clarke, Preston fisted behind for another flag kick, but the goal remained intact. A breakaway by the Island found McDiarmid ready for the fray, and from his clearance J. Reid headed into the danger zone for Shiels to have another try, but the goalie saved, and in the ensuing scramble managed to throw the ball clear. Another corner to Ballymena saw Preston saving his charge again.
Ballymena had another fast run, with Clarke going full pelt along the wing, and he centred beautifully but yet another time Preston came to the rescue, Shiels came near opening the score when he shot and the goalie fell on the ball, but got it away. Another centre by Clarke was headed over by J. Reid when Cassidy was waiting for it to drop on his head. The Island had a couple of runs and Gough handled, and then a further attack caught the home backs off their mark, but the pressure was relieved when the ball was sent behind.
After half an hour's play, mostly during which time the Light Blues had been attacking, their first score per Shiels. He ran the ball right up to goal, but Preston saved and effected only a partial clearance, Clarke pouncing on the ball and passing forward for Shiels to bag it. The Island were almost through a minute later when McNinch slipped on the greasy surface, but Gough ran out and kicked clear just in time. The next Ballymena attack found Shaw away on a clear field, but after running the ball up to goal he shot wide, in some unaccountable way. Shiels did the very same thing immediately afterwards.
After a fine wing run, Clarke passed to Mitchell, who struck the crossbar, and the ball came down to Shiels for him to score the second goal. This player performed the hat-trick in another minute or two, scoring his third goal after breaking through on his own. Mitchell was shouldered off the ball when about to shoot from close in, and then Preston saved a beauty from Shaw. Preston prevented disaster again by conceding a corner when Shiels was worrying him, and these players had another tussle again, but the goalie came out on top.
Clarke once more led the attack and placed a lovely dropping centre for Cassidy to head in his first goal for Ballymena amidst applause. It was a neat centre neatly taken. An amusing incident occurred just before the interval when Shiels was heading for goal on a clear field and Henderson locked arms with him and ran alongside him for a matter of twenty yards or so. Ballymena received a free for this transgression, and D. Reid gave Preston a good shot.
Ballymena opned strongly, and inside five minutes were another goal up, Cassidy working the ball dexterously past a succession of opponents and pushing forward to Shiels, who went ahead and added the fifth. A free taken by D. Reid caught J. Reid unawares and he skied over from a few yards out, it was rarely in this half that the visitors managed to develop an attack. Many a run they started, but the vigilance of the half backs usually put a stop to them, and when they failed McNinch or McDiarmid came to the rescue.
Mitchell presented Shiels with another opportunity and off he shot again like a rocket for goal. As Preston came out to meet him he shot the ball struck the upright and came out again, but he forged ahead and netted Ballymena's sixth, and his fifth goal. Cassidy, who was doing so many brilliant things, worked up another extremely fine attack and passed to Shaw, but the latest failed to rise to the occasion.
Ballymena took things easy, and the Island managed to force their first corner, receiving a second a couple of minutes later. Lyner, after a few runs, dropped a beauty on the bar and it rebounded into play for Stamp to get possession, but he was robbed by McDiarmid. In the closing minutes, Mitchell, after some action, added the seventh goal, just went a raucous voice yelled out, 'Don't do it'.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (8 February 1929)
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