4 - 0
4 - 0
League (Irish League)
James McCambridge (4)
John Murphy (6)
Jamie Shiels (14)
P. Craigmyle (Aberdeen) (Referee)
What was beyond all measure of doubt absolutely the finest display of football ever witnessed in Ballymena was provided by the Light Blues last Saturday when they met Derry City at the Showgrounds under league auspicious.
It was no secret that Derry came with the added intention of avenging their Irish Cup defeat at the hands of Ballymena. They turned out their strongest possible eleven, excepting that of Hilley was an absentee, but again Ballymena played so brilliantly throughout the game that they were always masters of the situation. For sheer artistry and football craft their display was supreme, touching the upmost heights of perfection. Few sides in the Irish League could have survived in the face of such brilliance.
Ballymena opened up in promising style, in spite of the fact that they faced the wind in this half. The Derry defenders found themselves in the relentless grip of a quick-moving forward line almost from the kick-off, being forced to do battle against the odds which was soon to overwhelm them.
They were being pounded right, left, and centre. The climax came at the end of four minutes when Murphy crossed in beautifully for James McCambridge to score the opening goal with a good clean kick, neatly taken.
This was only a foretaste of the brilliant play the spectators were to revel in, the like of which certainly never been seen locally before. Off the home forwards went again in one of their machine-like movements, a good wing run by Kilpatrick culminating in him giving McDonald a well-directed shot to stop.
Then play swung to the home left, from where Murphy volleyed in a rifler which rebounded off the far upright, and in the twinkling of an eye the ball landed safely in the net for the second goal, in spite of the frantic efforts to arrest its progress. It all happened so suddenly that after John Murphy's shot it was not quite clear what transpired. The match at this stage was only six minutes old.
This further success had the effect of stimulating Ballymena to rise to still greater heights, and in the ensuing exchanges they playing what can only be characterised as marvellous football, the whole team working in perfect harmony. Derry's first real effort came when Murray's shot straight along the ground for goal and when Gough kicked clear Senior returned but Reed missed the chance by sending across goal.
In another Derry attack Senior sent in a beauty which Gough turned round the post for a corner. It was now Ballymena's turn to attack, and away they went with Shiels in the vanguard. In the excitement of the race for goal Shiels struck the ball against an opponent, but Cassidy, who was nearby, pounded on it and slung it out to Kilpatrick, who centred for Cassidy to lift it over the bar.
Howard effectively stopped a Derry attack, but the City then soon advanced again, and once more Gough had to concede a corner, this time in saving Mailey's shot. Ballymena's next movement was cut short by a 'free' against a Derry player, but with a well-placed kick Howard dropped the ball just in front of goal, where Jamie Shiels executed a lightning turn and had it in the net in a flash. Thus were Ballymena three goals up at the end of fourteen minutes.
Yet Ballymena did not relax their efforts. They continued to play in the same confident spirit, and although they did not get any more goals in this half it was a treat to watch them. Shiels let Kilpatrick away up the wing, and the latter shot in for a Derry defender to head out, but Howard made a quick return, and when the goalie had punched out Kilpatrick forced a corner.
When the ball came in from the flag kick D. Reid headed past by the narrowest of margins. At the opposite end when the Derry forwards were making their presence felt, D. Reid eased the pressure by tipping back to Gough. Derry came back and when Senior was well placed he made a wild drive, but his direction was erratic.
Following a corner the same player sent in a soft shot which Gough picked up, at the side of the upright. Then Curran looked like doing something worth while, but he met his master in McDiarmid, who had to concede a corner, however. At the opposite end Kilpatrick forced a corner for Ballymena, and when the ball came out from a ruck of players in the ensuing melee Howard punted it well into the danger-zone again, but Williams cleared. Murphy connected with another centre from Kilpatrick, and with a first-timer sent the ball whizzing just over the bar.
Just now Ballymena were playing an extraordinary game, with Cassidy as a star turn, and cheer after cheer went up as one piece of sparkling play followed another. Certainly the crowd were getting full value for their money.
At length Derry got moving, with Curran leading the attack, but McDiarmid baulked him again. It was done so neatly that a ripple of laughter went round the ground. Murphy's clever footwork on the Ballymena left caused more merriment his excellent scheming completely nonplussing his opponents. One of his neat crosses was trapped by McCambridge, who lost no time in shooting, only to miss by the proverbial inch.
Derry had a short spell of attack, in which Mailey lobbed in a long shot, but Gough was safe. Then followed a tussle in the Ballymena goal area, but Bassnett came to the rescue with a timely clearance. End to end play followed up to the interval.
After a short 'breather' the teams turned round and were soon battling with all their might again. Following a short-lived Ballymena attack, Curran passed out to Senior, who crossed in for Curran to head into goal, and Gough had to act quickly to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
So far this was Derry's best attempt to score. They made another determined attempt a minute later, but McDiarmid staved off the opposition and allowed Gough to clear. Then a high shot from Tighe came sailing in, but again Gough was on the spot.
For some twenty minutes or so after this the Derry forwards scarcely got over the half-way line, Ballymena subjecting the Derry goal to an unmerciful pounding, which produced a long string of corners. Only for McDonald's great reach and his praiseworthy display the score against the visitors would have assumed alarming proportions.
Following one of the numerous flag kicks, D. Reid shot straight and hard for goal, but the ball was deflected off its course at the critical moment for another corner. The pressure at this stage on the Derry goal was tremendous. It was in a veritable state of siege, with disaster warded off time after time by the merest chance.
It seemed as if it had a charmed life, but at long last it fell when, after a corner, David Reid turned in a great left-foot shot, which sent the ball careering between a host of players into the net for Ballymena's fourth.
Even after this Ballymena continued to monopolise the play. Two great shots by Cassidy were both diverted for corners. Considering the excellence of the play that led up to them they were deserving of a better fate. McDonald had some trouble with another shot from Cassidy, and he fumbled the ball a good deal, but at last he made a fine recovery.
Then a long dropping shot from Howard, similar to the one with which he scored against Newry, dropped just behind the bar Another time Howard punted the ball up to Shiels and McCambridge just in front of goal, but the subsequent shot rebounded off the goalie's chest and out of range.
Ballymena attacked constantly, maintaining the same brilliant form, and forcing the goalie or some other player to concede corners to keep down the score. Ballymena had in all a dozen corners in this half, if not more, which given an idea of the distribution of the play. Towards the end Curran made another desperate attempt to score, but McNinch tied him up completely. A couple of corners to Derry brought them no nearer to success.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (20 December 1929)
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