2 - 1
League (Irish League)
William Mears (35)
James McGinn (pen.)
James McCambridge (56)
J. Roscoe (Bolton) (Referee)
A much-improved Coleraine sprang a surprise on Ballymena last Saturday, at Coleraine, by winning the second bout in which these teams have opposed each other this season. Coleraine's form since the Christmas season had not been up to scratch and it was generally surmised that the Cup-holders would encounter no great difficulty in their quest for the points.
We had discounted, however, Coleraine's return to form. On their showing against Linfield on the previous Thursday, when they were defeated in the second round of the Irish Cup by the only goal scored, they appeared to be a middling enough lot, and one could see visions of Ballymena repeating or even bettering Linfield's performance. But Coleraine gave a vastly superior display on Saturday, and on the run of the play deserved their victory.
The match was keenly contested from start to finish. It provided plenty of exciting incidents, especially in the Ballymena goal area in the second half, when the Light Blue's goal had several narrow escapes. The destiny of the points was decided by a penalty in this half. Had McCambridge not missed a sure 'smick' just before the interval, when he made a bad miss after Red had struck the cross-bar, honours would have been divided. James McCambridge, however, got his goal, about ten minutes after the resumption.
Playing down the hill and with a breeze advantage, Coleraine swooped down on the Ballymena goal in the first minute and were going strong when McCambridge came to the rescue. Kelly stopped Ballymena's retaliatory attack in determined fashion, allowing his forwards to move for goal again.
Dudley broke through the defence only to send over the bar. Subsequently Shiels raced for the opposite end, essayed a shot, but McGinnigle took up a good position and charged the shot down. These opening exchanges were brisk, playing travelling quickly from end to end, and excitement rising with every move.
Coleraine forced play to the low end again, Mackie crossing the ball in for McGinn to strike the side-net. Then Gough stopped a rasper from Dudley. Just now there was a regular mix-up in front of the Ballymena goal in which anything might have happened, but Dalrymple manoeuvred the ball out of the danger zone.
A Ballymena attack was initiated in the midfield by Reid, who sent out a lovely pass to Kilpatrick, and the latter turned in a lightning ground centre at once but the inside forwards were not up to take advantage of it. It was now a matter of attack and counter-attack. At the low end McGinn rattled in a shot which missed by a yard. McCambridge transferred play up the field, passing out to Kilpatrick, who centred for Murphy to force the first corner of the match.
Kelly came out on top in a tussle with Shiels, and then again play swung to the opposite end, where Gough saved a fast, low shot from Smith. Another corner to Coleraine kept the tension high, but it eased when Mackie sent over the bar.
A couple of 'frees' to Ballymena found them pressing, but the home defence stood firmly up to the attacks. Following a third corner to Coleraine, Dalrymple made a great effort to clear, but the ball struck an opponent and rebounded into goal, but Gough was ready. Another corner to the homesters a few minutes later still left the score sheet blank.
Sparkling play by the Ballymena front line brought the Coleraine goal into jeopardy, but Cassidy's final effort went wide. With only ten minutes of this half to go the Whites forced still another corner, and when McCambridge failed to get the ball away Willliam Mears pounced on it and drove it home with a well-aimed shot which beat Gough all the way.
Ballymena made strenuous efforts to get the equaliser, the first attempt of note being when McNinch from a 'free' landed a high shot into goal, but Mehaffey saved. Just before the interval McCambridge missed a gift. Reid had volleyed in a high shot which struck the cross-bar, and when the ball came down McCambridge was on it in an instant, but instead of placing it in the net, as everyone fully expected, he lifted it high over the bar from point-blank range.
When the teams re-appeared it was seen that McIntyre of Coleraine had his left arm in asling, having had to be medically attended to at the interval for an injury to his shoulder in the first half. Ballymena attacked strongly on the resumption, but their own end of the field was soon the scene of action again, Coleraine receiving a corner.
Once more the visitors' forward line moved off, and McCambridge struck the side-net in an attempt to score. Then Dalrymple initiated an attack in which Cassidy schemed well and placed the ball for Kilpatrick to drive in a splendid cross, from which Murphy sent over. A quick run by the home forwards found Gough fisting out a shot. Then MUrphy had another try for goal after receiving a pass from Reid, but his effort was also a trifle high.
It ws now, just ten minutes after the restart, that Ballymena got on level terms. From a bye-kick from the Coleraine end Dalrymple headed the ball to Reid, who placed to Cassidy, and the last-named player put in a beautiful ground pass up the centre to McCambridge, who sprang to it and beat Mehaffey cleverly.
In the next minute Gough was in action again, picking up shots from Mackie and Dudley. A spell of good forward play by Ballymena raised hopes, but Coleraine were soon hammering at the Light Blues' goal again. In the course of a scramble Gough did well to hold a shot from Mackie. This was followed by an even more exciting incident; Gough came out in an effort to get a shot from McGinn, but the ball went to Dudley, who drove hard for the vacant goal, and just when a goal seemed certain, Nelson dashed in and cleared the ball almost from the line, and Dalrymple pushed it further out of harm's way.
The exchanges were livelier than ever now. Shiels dashed down the field but was foulwed before he got very far. But Ballymena attacked vigourously, and Kilpatrick and Murphy each had tries but in each case the ball went over the bar. Then came the penalty kick with which Coleraine won the points.
What happened was not quite clear, but in a scramble in the Ballymena goal it seems that the ball went careering towards goal, and with Gough out of his charge McNinch stopped the ball with his hands, but Dudley drove it home. The referee awarded a penalty, with which James McGinn scored.
Ballymena played with an increased determination, and the Coleraine goal had to withstand a bombardment. McCambridge got his head to a cross by Kilpatrick and sent the ball flying past when he might have allowed Cassidy to take the shot. Afterwards Kilpatrick fired across a couple of fine shots, but Mehaffey was safe. It was now Coleraine's turn, and away raced Dudley, who got the better of Nelson and crossed in for Smith to strike the cross-bar.
At the opposite end McCambridge sent in a great shot which Mehaffey coped with. To save a nasty situation Reid conceded a corner, which was closely followed by a 'free', but neither kick altered the score. The match was now in its closing stages, but the interest was as keen as ever. At one end Kilpatrick forced a corner, and at the other Gough had to advance to beat Mackie for possession.
In the last minute Dudley shot, and in endeavouring to clear McNinch struck the ball against an upright but it rebounded into play.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (24 January 1930)
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