1 - 2
League (Irish League)
Sidney Howard (16)
James Gilmour (32)
L. Watson (Nottingham) (Referee)
The rousing game between Distillery and Ballymena at Grosvenor Park on Saturday was one of the keenest seen there this season, thought it could not be truthfully said that the football was of the highest order - the heavy nature of the ground precluded that.
Still, there was such an extraordinary amount of 'go' about the play, such dash and counter-dash, that there was scarcely a dull minute from start to finish. The spectators fairly revelled in the keen battle which unfolded itself before their eyes, although they shivered in a biting wind.
The first half was certainly Ballymena's, but the second half was undoubtedly Distillery's, and had the game ended in a division of the points nobody could have grumbled very much.
Ballymena were a goal up at the end of 16 minutes, at the end of 32 minutes they were two up, but before the interval Distillery had reduced the lead.
In the second half Ballymena were largely on the defensive, and only the herculean efforts of McNinch, McCandless, Reid and Black won them the victory. It was often touch and go whether Distillery would score or not, but the end came ith them still seeking the elusive goal which would have shared them the honours.
Aided by the breeze, Distillery started off with a brisk attack, and Black was in action in the first minute. Ballymena retaliated immediately, Gilmour slipping a couple of half-backs and piloting the ball out towards Murphy, but Palmer ran out of goal and was first on the ball.
Already the game swung rapidly from end to end, first one team and then the other attacking, but the finishing was not up to the mark.
Hutchinson made ground on the left and swept the ball in to Thompson, whose shot sailed over the bar. Thompson was again dangerous in the next minute, and only a fine tackle and clearance by McNinch eased the pressure.
A good tackle by Nelson enabled him to get the ball to Dalrymple, who crossed it in for Gilmour to shoot it over the bar with a left-foot drive.
On the heavy ground the teams were adapting themselves to a swinging open game, and though there were few of the finer touches about the play it was always keen, attack being followed by counter-attack.
In a Distillery attack D. Reid headed past for a corner in an awkward moment, but fortunately for Ballymena, the flag kick was unproductive, McAdam finishing by heading outside.
Nelson, who was playing a brainy game, let Gilmour away, but the leader, after shaking off several opponents, was ultimately wedged between the backs, all his efforts going for nothing.
Dalrymple was on the mark with a good shot, which Palmer saved. Th opening goal came at the end of sixteen minutes play, when after the referee had scrambed the ball on the Ballymena right, Cassidy and Dalrymple, by means of fine combination , took play right up to the Distillery goal, and when Dalrymple had centered a second time Sidney Howard nodded the ball through at the far side of the goal.
The Whites attacked with renewed vigour, but McAdam found McCandless a stumbling block. Another corner to Distillery was abortive. Then for the first time in the match Murphy was put in possession, and he crossed the ball into Gilmour, who when tackled, passed it on to Dalrymple, and the last-named player back-heeled smartly, but Gilmore was taken unaware and Flack stepped in and cleared. In another Distillery attack McAdam was stopped by McNinch, who placed for Howard to put Gilmour in possession just in front of goal, but he failed to grasp the opportunity.
The homesters were more aggressive than even now, and Black was called on to clear his charge on more than one occasion McAdam was not far off the mark with a back-heeler, and Sinnamon was a source of trouble.
McCandless was applauded for easing the pressure in a difficult situation, and black won admiration for magnificent save. Only a stout defence prevented Distillery getting the equaliser at this stage of the game.
McNinch received a nasty kick on the head, and as he fell prone on the field a section of the crowd on the reserved side showed very unsportsmanlike conduct by booking when the referee stopped play to have McNinch attended to.
The booing was repeated when McNinch resumed. Ballymena forced play to the home end, when Howard skied over the bar from Dalrymple's centre. At the opposite end Hutchinson fired in a fast shot, and luckily, Davy Reid got his head to the ball and put it past for a corner.
Ballymena's second goal came at the end of 32 minutes. Nelson placed a dandy pass to James Gilmour, who ran in and scored with a strong, clean drive that left Palmer standing.
Ballymena were going great guns now, the Distillery defence having to be on their tip-toes to keep down the score. Again Murphy was put in possession, and he cut in and struck the side net with a terrific drive.
Then the Whites went off again and a free to them brought danger, but McNinch came into the breach again. Black got rid of the ball quickly on a couple of occasions when hard pressed, but in the next minute e was beaten by a low shot from Thompson from thirty yards range, a shot which he might have saved.
Distillery pressed for a time, and in the course of their attack Black saved splendidly from Rafferty, and in the ensuing exchanges both McNinch and McCandless stood firmly to the opposition.
With the wind in their favour in the second half it was thought that Ballymena would figure to an even greater extent in the play, but it was Distillery who forced the pace on the restart.
Thompson missed narrowly with a drive which just sailed over the bar, but Sinnamon was on the mark with a great shot which tested Black's capacities as a goal keeper.
This spell of attacking by the homesters was quickly followed by Ballymena transferring play to the opposite end, where Murphy lobbed the ball across and Gilmour headed into goal, but Palmer was ready.
Distillery were soon hammering at Ballymena's gates gain, and the crowd held its breath when Black ran out and Thompson hit the ball against him for a corner. The Ballymena defence had an anxious spell, and just when it seemed anything might have happened, McNinch made a most timely clearance.
Fast end to end play followed, in which Gilmour placed for Dalrymple to miss narrowly, and Cassidy called on Palmer to stop a good try.
The pace was as fast as ever and exchanges were brisk and bustling. Black experienced some difficulty in getting rid of the ball once or twice, and almost courted danger by throwing it to the feet of opponents.
However, play swung to the other end again, and Murphy sprang a surprise with a brilliant shot
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (28 November 1930)
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