4 - 3
Hugh Blair (60)
David Reid (pen.)
James McCambridge (4)
Jamie Shiels (15)
W. McClean (Belfast) (Referee)
Although Ballymena were defeated by Portadown at the latter's ground on Saturday in the City Cup competition it was pleasant to note that they have at least turned the corner again and are well on the way towards regaining their old form.
The game was a hard fought one throughout, and with the least little bit of luck the Light Blues would have at least shared the points. Their display - if we except the defences - was far ahead of anything they have shown since they defeated Celtic, and we can confidently look forward to them 'coming back' for the great occasion on 30th March, now that they have found their beatings again.
Portadown won the toss and played with a slight breeze advantage. Ballymena started exceptionally well, with a business-like race for goal, Clarke eventually crossing in for Cassidy to deflect the ball with a header into the goalie's arms. A short run by Portadown was nipped in the bud, and once more Clarke raced along the wing and fired in a lovely centre, from which James McCambridge headed through for the opening goal within a couple of minutes from the start.
The Ports attacked vigourously after this, and in a melee near the Ballymena goal McDiarmid came to the rescue and eased the pressure. Back again came the homesters. Soon Portadown were pressing again, and a dangerous situation sprang up in front of goal, but McDiarmid again eased the pressure, this time at the expense of a corner. From the flag kick another ensued.
Portadown got the equaliser rather easily. Gough had just made a good save when he threw the ball clear, but only just, and George Magee pounced on it and landed it in the net. A run by Ballymena saw Clarke sending in another centre, but McCambridge and Shiels were pulled up for offside. Just after this Clarke moved off again, outwitted Fisher, and lifted the ball into Jamie Shiels, who manoeuvred into position and gave Ballymena the lead again. As yet the game was only seventeen minutes old and this was the third goal scored!
Ballymena continued to make progress, and the ball came in from Clarke yet another time, but McCambridge slipped on the soft ground when about to shoot, with the result that his effort lacked direction. It was not long before Portadown again equalised, and the goal was a peculiar one. John Lappin evaded the defence and made for goal at an oblique angle, with Gough coming out to meet him, and he shot, and the ball struck the bar, bounced down and came out into play again. The referee pointed to the centre of the field, leaving the protestations of the Ballymena goalie and other members of the team unheeded.
Ballymena attacked with redoubled energy now, and Gilmour sent in a long shot which just failed to find its billet. Next Clarke placed another centre well to Mitchell, whose shot was charged down, and an effort made by Cassidy met with the same fate. Two corners to Portadown in quick succession failed, and then at the opposite end when Shiels was boring his was through the opposition he was brought down and a penalty awarded. David Reid scored with the spot kick, placing well out of Donnelly's reach. Before the interval Portadown forced a further corner, which was without avail. The home goal was also subjected to pressure, a fine try by Mitchell testing Donnelly severely.
The second half started sensationally, Shiels getting possession and sending out to McCambridge, who ran in and struck the crossbar with a terrific drive which startled everybody. The goalie had scarcely recovered from the shock when Ballymena were in the danger zone again, and Clarke sent in a shot which was going between the post when Lynas stopped it with his hand, Donnelly being out of goal. A penalty was awarded, and Cassidy, in his anxiety to place the ball well out of Donnelly's reach, sent it a trifle wide of the mark.
This put new heart into Portadown, who went away at a gallop, and when Gough was about to fist out a shot Thomas Cooke hustled him and in some unaccountable way got the ball into the net. The teams were now on a level footing as regards goals, but Portadown soon gained the lead from a corner, Hugh Blair meeting the ball after it came out of a ruck of players and scoring with a hard close-in drive.
Mitchell gave Clarke a good opportunity and the winger led up to goal but hesitated the fraction of a second too long before getting in his shot. However, a corner resulted, but it was ineffective. The Light Blues continued to press for a time and received a free and a corner. Cassidy essayed a long shot which just missed, and Clarke lobbed a shot over the bar. At this stage Ballymena were having the better of the play, and towards the end Shiels was almost through, but a host of players formed a ring round him and he was unable to break through. In the closing stages Portadown were pressing and the Ballymena defence had a busy time in the mud.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (8 March 1929)
|John Gough (GK)||33||32||-||32||-|