0 - 1
0 - 1
League (Irish League)
|None.||Robert Mackie (80)|
M. Quinn (Bellshill) (Referee)
This important fixture, which aroused the keenest interest and was awaited with impatience, was played off before a huge crowd at the Showgrounds on Saturday last.
For fully an hour before the kick-off a constant stream of followers of both teams wended its way to the scene of combat. By three o'clock the grand stand was packed, and the enclosure held hundreds, and the larger portion of the unreserved side was black with humanity.
It was easily the biggest crowd seen at the grounds this season. They waited eagerly for the teams to take the field, and when they arrived there were outbursts of deafening applause.
Bassnett won the toss for Ballymena, and set Coleraine to face a strong sun, but the visitors had the advantage of a slight breeze. Right from the kick off the match was fought at a rattling pace. Ballymena were first away, but the attack was short-lived, the Coleraine forwards afterwords moving strongly and progressing well until a 'free' was given against one of them at this early stage.
The kick let the home forwards away again, and they were soon in the thick of the fight at the Coleraine end, where Mitchell and Shiels both essayed shots which were a trifle wide.
Coleraine came back to the attack with a swift rush which spelled danger, but the pressure was relieved when McGinn crossed to Gilmour, who took a long header, sending wide by yards.
The terrific pace at which the match was fought did not preclude either side from showing frequent glimpses of sparkling football. Up to the moment neither could claim any disadvantage territorially. Some deft work by Mitchell in the face of opposition enabled him to get the ball out to Murphy, but McGinnigle went in unceremoniously and put a sudden end to the movement.
Shiels was next seen racing up the field, and after being tackled by two or three players unsuccessfully he slipped the ball to Murphy, who was shouldered off. Gilmour was conspicuous in the next Coleraine attack, ending up by striking the side of the net with a well-taken shot.
In the next minute Nelis volleyed in the first shot of the match, but Gough was equal to the occasion. Another 'free' against Coleraine, taken by McNinch, allowed Ballymena away again, but Mitchell changed the venue, and for a period play ranged from end to end, both sets of backs invariably getting the better of the opposing forwards.
Then Cassidy and Murphy were responsible for a piece of smart work, the former firing in a shot across goal with which Shiels just failed to connect. The first corner of the match came after twenty-one minutes per Murphy, but the defence prevailed. Coleraine also forced a corner in the next minute, and when the ball had been cleared out of the ruck McIntyre met it and drove in a great high shot which Gough jumped to and saved expertly.
The play was still of a high order, first one side and then the other being in the ascendancy. Both sets of forwards played with dash and daring, but in each case they found themselves pitted against the almost impregnable defences. Another 'free' to Ballymena allowed Shiels to head into goal, but Mehaffey was as crafty as ever, and handled the situation well.
Gilmour, Coleraine's centre-forward showed impetuously in dashing away time and again without a final look round, with the result that he was caught napping on three or four occasions when McNinch and McDiarmid manoeuvred for offside. Mehaffey stopped a long drive from Kilpatrick, and later was on the qui vive when Mitchell ran forward to shoot, but the Ballymena man's effort was off the mark.
Then followed an exciting incident at the Ballymena end when Reid stumbled and fell, and Gilmour pounced on the ball like lightning and fired in a shot which Gough managed to save at the bottom of the upright.
Ballymena came perilously near scoring in the next minute when, after an outstanding bit of play Cassidy, Murphy hooked in the ball to Shiels, who ran right up to goal and shot, but Mehaffey made a magnificent save deflecting the ball upwards with his hands and eventually clearing.
Then the Ballymena goal had a narrow escape when McGinn struck the side net from close range. A corner to Coleraine left the score sheet still blank. Cassidy made a bright solo run, in the course of which he tricked two or three opponents, ended up by driving the ball about a foot over the bar.
Murphy also had a try with no better result. There was a continuous wave of excitement as first one team and then the other attacked, but the big cheer never came this half. Returning refreshed to the fray the teams recommenced the battle royal in the same vigorous spirit. The pace, perhaps, was scarcely as fast in the first half, but there was no mistaking the eagerness of both teams.
Reid broke up a Coleraine attack just when it was beginning to gather strength, and Murphy raced up the wing and slung across a good centre, which went abegging. With the sun shining straight into his eyes, Gough pushed the ball round the post for a corner, this flag kick being quickly followed by another, but neither was effective.
The Ballymena defence stood up superbly to the Coleraine attacks, McNinch in particular making a series of spectacular clearances. Further Coleraine pressure resulted in Mackie pushing in a centre to Gilmour, who netted from a yard out. A full-throated Coleraine cheer went up, but it subsided quickly amid the general buzz of excitement when the referee placed the ball for a 'free' for offside. Disappointment and jubilation showed on the faces of the respective sets of spectators.
A spell of Ballymena pressure followed, but Murphy found it difficult to outwit the opposition defence, though he had many tries, some of which were successful.
At the home end Gilmour shot wildly without much sense of direction, the ball going more towards the corner flag than goal. Next the same player headed narrowly past following a throw-in. A 'free' against each team spoiled promising attacks, Howard let Murphy away, and after he had shot for goal the ball came straight out again, and in the melee Cassidy got possession and slammed in a shot which flashed across goal.
Following another throw-in McNinch landed a long, dropping shot into goal, Mehaffey again rising to the occasion. Reid and Bassnett initiated a promising movement which allowed Kilpatrick away on the right; the winger crossed the ball to Murphy, who drove hard from close in, Mehaffey saving but failing to hold, and McGinnigle relieved the pressure.
As the match wore on excitement was at as a high a pitch as ever, and everyone felt that whichever team scored now would win the match. Attacks were as strong as ever, but the defences stood up to their work. A series of fouls marred the play for a time, first against one team and then the other. Gilmour and Mears were laid out within a short time of each other, but soon resumed play. Then Shiels wormed his way past a mass of players and forced McGinnigle as a last resort to concede a corner. From the flag kick Reid headed behind.
Just when this half was thirty-five minutes old Gilmour made a dash for goal, closely attended by McDiarmid. When McDiarmid was manoeuvring Gilmoure off the ball so that it would run over the line Gilmour heeled back to Robert Mackie, who beat Gough with a very fast shot, to the accompaniment of lust Coleraine cheers.
Ballymena fought valiantly to get on the level terms, and Kilpatrick was the first player after this to test the Coleraine goalie. Only a miraculous save by Mehaffey in the last minutes of the game, when Bassnett shot following a corner, prevented Ballymena from getting the equaliser. I twas a great shot, and a good save, but Mehaffey was attended by just an element of luck, as it would appear that the ball passed through his hands and struck his knee. Near the end McGinn was hurt and retired to the line, but was soon in the midst of the fray again.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (1 November 1929)
|John Gough (GK)||33||11||-||55||-|