4 - 3
League (Irish League)
Jack Mahood (51)
Keiller McCullough (70)
Joseph Cassidy (pen.) (44)
Jamie Shiels (56)
Joseph Cassidy (61)
Gordon McDiarmid (70)
H. Watson (Glasgow) (Referee)
Ballymena unexpectedly went under to Celtic at Celtic Park last Saturday. It was thought that their splendid form of the past few weeks would enable them to tide over this fixture successfully, but in some instances it is the unexpected that happens, and in this case that was on.
At one stage, early in the second half, the Light BLues had the match well in hand when they led by 3-1, but a series of mistfortunes which followed in quick succession deprived them of the victory they so much desired. Any enjoyment that the game gave was marred about twenty minutes from the end when McDiarmid was ordered to the Pavilion.
He was quickly followed by Ferguson, the Celtic right-back, who also got his marching orders. While the match was a keenly-contested one which never flagged in interest it was an unsatisfactory one from several points of view, a state of affairs which might have been avoided had the referee handled the game more firmly from the start.
Ballymena won the toss and elected to play with the sun behind them. Neat work by Cassidy characterised the opening play but soon Celtic were in the Ballymena end, where J. Mahood centered in, but McNinch cleared.
However, the Celts came back, and Carroll slung across a good try which just sailed over the bar. Ballymena attacked in the next minute, the forwards showing good understanding, but when Cassidy passed to McCambridge the latter was frustrated by Ferguson. Then the Celts forced their way to their opponents' and again, after off-side had spoiled a good movement, Carroll got possession and gave Gough a hot handful.
Pressure on the Celtic left brought McCambridge running across the field to aid the defence and in a trice he was in the thick of the fight and had the ball safely away from the danger zone. Following a midfield bout, Gallagher fired in a great shot into the Ballymena goal, but Gough effected an equally great save.
An infringement by one of the Celtic backs gave Ballymena a 'free', but nothing came off the kick. Then happened an incident which either the referee did not see of else he ignored it. Shiels had caught a neat pass from McCambridge and was going pell-mell for goal when about a yard out he was deliberately tripped just when a goal seemed imminent.
Another 'free' to Ballymena just outside the penalty area saw Reid punt the ball over the bar. At the opposite end Carroll picked up a centre from J. Mahood and at once shot for goal, Gough stretching his leg and hitting up the ball with his knee.
Immediately the ball was headed into the danger zone again, and Reid had to concede a corner to save the situation. At this stage Celtic were doing more of the pressing than their opponents, but Cassidy once more led the Ballymena attack, passing to Shiels, who was blocked and who in the scramble did not know where the ball had gone.
As a matter of fact, it lay between him and the goal, although a good distance out; and had he found it immediately he might have made good use of the opportunity. McDiarmid made a hefty clearance, the ball striking McCullough, who was knocked temporarily out of action.
A great run up the wing by Kilpatrick, with Mooney in close attendance, saw him cross in a lovely shot which Anderson jumped to and saved. Two more 'frees' against Celtic - they were becoming pretty frequent - brought no measure of success to Ballymena. Then J. Mahood got the better of Bassnett and landed the ball in the goal mouth, where Howard did the proper thing in conceding a corner when Carroll was making desperate efforts to connect with the centre.
Ballymena were off again and, following a throw-in, Bassnett dropped a beautiful ball into the Celtic goal, but Anderson was safe. At this point in the game occurred another incident which nonplussed the spectators. When Anderson had caught a splendid shot from Murphy, Shiels and Cassidy ran in and forced him to drop the ball, and at he end Shiels netted, but the referee disallowed the goal for some reason not apparent to those who were following events.
Play was more evenly distributed now, both sides having equal shares in attacking. At the Ballymena end Donoghue sent in a fast shot which just topped the bar. Then at the extreme end Howard had a try, but Anderson was equal to the occasion. Another dash by Shiels ended in him colliding with a back, and the referee awarded Celtic a 'free'. Shiels got through the defence a minute later and shot with his right foot, but the try was not sufficiently dangerous.
Coming up to the interval Ballymena were doing all the pressing. McCambridge had a rattle for goal, and then following another 'free' Shiels tapped behind when well placed. The climax came just a minute from half-time, when Ferguson lifted Kilpatrick into the air and Ballymena received a penalty, Joe Cassidy scoring with the kick.
The Celts attacked on the restart, but soon Cassidy took play to the other end where Kipatrick shot across for Anderson to save. In a melee in front of the Ballymena goal the visitors were awarded a 'free', and quickly following this Celtic returned to the attack, and when Gallagher turned in a cross from J. Mahood, Howard partially cleared, and Jack Mahood rushed in and bagged the equaliser.
A grand opportunity came to Shiels after this when Murphy dropped the ball in front of goal, but Shiels lifted it over the bar with his head from almost below the bar. There was a tense moment in front of the Ballymena goal when Gough had pushed out a shot and a number of the Celtic forwards rushed with one accord for the ball, but Reid saved the situation just in the nick of time.
In saving the shot Gough got a severe knock from an opponent, and the game was stopped for a minute or two while he was being attended to. On the resumption of play Howard placed a great pass up the centre to Jamie Shiels, who outwitted Fulton and scored with a dandy left foot shot, which beat Anderson all the way. Ten minutes of the second half had elapsed at this stage.
Regaining the lead again seemd to make Ballymena with more confidence, and five minutes later Murphy passed the ball in to Joe Cassidy, who turned a lovely shot into the net for Ballymena's keeping. With a two-goal lead and a little steadiness they might have overcome all the opposition, but strange to say disaster came swift and sudden.
From a 'free' taken by Donoghue, Jack Mahood headed in a beauty which left Gough standing. It was all done so quickly that the ball was in the net almost before we realised what had happened. A couple of minutes later Keiller McCullough levelled up the score with a header after Fulton had lobbed the ball into the goal-mouth. Pressure by Ballymena found the Celtic defence having a busy time, and there was more than one case of unfair play in coping with the attacks.
Twenty-five minutes from the restart Keiller McCullough gave Celtic the lead for the first time in the match, a lead which they held until the end. It was just after this that McDiarmid tackled McCullough robustly and was ordered Fulton had lobbed the balll into the goal before giving his decision.
McCullough was hurt in the charge, but he was soon on his feet again and play was resumed. Then Shiels dashed up the centre of the field and was unfairly tackled by Ferguson, who was also got his marching orders. Meantime McCambridge fell back to right back position and McNinch crossed to McDiarmid's place.
Shiels, who had sustained a leg injury when tackled by Ferguson came on again after a few minutes and exchanged places with Kilpatrick, but he was little better than a passenger, so that Ballymena were playing virtually with only three forwards.
Right up to the end the match was contested vigorously, and for a time 'frees' seemed to be quite the order of the day, for the most part against Celtic. In the last minute Cassidy made a valiant effort to equalise, his splendid shot glancing off an upright.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (27 December 1929)
|John Gough (GK)||34||19||-||63||-|