2 - 2
Irish Cup (Quarter final)
Mal McKinney (12)
Alistair McElfatrick (57)
James Gilmour (25)
James Gilmour (70)
A. Fogg (Bolton) (Referee)
Ballymena may consider themselves lucky at not being forced to make an untimely exit out of the Irish Cup competition last Saturday at Bangor.
Only by the magnificent stand of McCandless and McNinch, the prowess of Reid, and the sharpshooting of Gilmour, where they enabled to hold off the grim spectre of defeat which stared them in the face. These four players were outstanding; to them is due the fact that Ballymena lived to fight another day.
It was one of the most fiercely contested engagements Ballymena have ever had in their Irish Cup career since they started. Never did they come so near defeat. But fighting with their backs to the wall they stuck to their work tenaciously, never wholly losing their grip, and ultimately came the goal that meant a world of difference to them.
Bangor had taken the lead in the first half, but before the interval Gilmour had levelled up the scores. Then Bangor went ahead early in the second half per McElfatrick. They were playing in such go-ahead style and Ballymena were so unsettled that even some of Ballymena's most enthusiastic supporters began to lose hope, but others were more optimistic.
At length, after a series of raids, the belated equaliser came, Gilmour scoring the goal which pulled the match out of the fire. Never was a goal more enthusiastically acclaimed. Bangor fought back hard for the lead, but a staunch defence kept them out.
Ballymena, who won the toss and defended the shore end, raided right at the start, Gilmour testing Moore in the first minute. Aided by a free, Bangor got to close quarters, but McKinney failed when well placed.
Slinging the ball about and playing an open game the homesters allowed Ballymena little chance of settling to work, and consequently the Ballymena end was the scene of operations for a good period, during which the seasiders were awarded two corners and a free, but still a goal eluded them.
Sticking to their work Bangor raided again, and a nice glancing pass going out to Mal McKinney, he tapped the ball in front of him and fired in a beautiful swerving shot which curved in at the far side of the goal, leaving McKean impotent. Heartened by this early success - the goal came at the end of twelve minutes.
Bangor made tracks for goal again, but McCandless cleared effectively and Murphy took play to the other end where he forced a corner. Play centred round the home end for a time, and in the course of the exchanges Murphy missed narrowly and Gilmour gave Moore a hot handful.
Later Gilmour gave Moore a hot handful. Later Gilmour was just off the mark with a header from a free taken by McNinch. Another corner ended this spell of Ballymena pressure.
McElfatrick got the Bangor front line going again, pushing the ball out to Henderson, who called on McKean to defend his charge. The equaliser looked like coming in the next minute when Ballymena were right through, but Moore saved in quick succession and in masterly fashion from Howard and Murphy.
The Bangor forwards were just as dangerous at the other end when Henderson and McElfatrick co-operated in a clever movement, which progressed splendidly and looked like bearing fruit until McCandless made a fine tackle and followed up with an equally good clearance.
Ballymena began to settle down a bit after this and went out strongly for the equaliser, which came at the end of twenty-five minutes. Receiving a pass from Dalrymple, Gilmour raced shoulder to shoulder with Ellis, going next goal at an awkward angle, and with Ellis between him and the goalie. Suddenly James Gilmour worked into a better position and jabbed a shot which was so unexpected that Moore was left standing. It was a unique effort and deserved the success it brought.
Elated by their success Ballymena attacked spiritedly and for some time played the better football. Stewart paved the way for Gilmour to have another try which Moore saved in fine fashion. Again Bangor made headway and were awarded a free, McKean saving at the expense of a corner.
Then in a critical moment McCandless nipped in and cleared his lines, but McKinney was soon on the ball and sent in another swerving shot which flashed across the goal-mouth. McElfatrick got away on his own, but McNinch raced swiftly across the field and baulked him just in time.
Shortly before the interval a great shot from Gilmour struck the join of the upright and crossbar and had Moore beaten all the way, but the ball rebounded into play and eventually Moore cleared.
Ballymena struck out in fine fashion on resuming but were unable to press home the advantage, the Bangor defence standing up to them firmly. The Seasiders then made ground and were on the point of becoming dangerous when Reid cut the attack short and in doing was injured, but was able to resume in a moment or two.
At times a little heat crept into the game, several players on both sides coming under the referee's censure. From a free against McGuire the Bangor goalie saved Reid's shot at the expense of an abortive corner. Another opening came when McCandless took a free, but offside spoiled Ballymena's chance.
Pollock, who was a source of danger, met his master in McNinch in the next Bangor attack, the burly Ballymena back making a magnificent clearance. Then Alistair McElfatrick shot over the bar, but in the next moment put Bangor ahead by converting a neat centre from McKinney, twelve minutes after the restart.
The Ballymena goal withstood severe pressure in the next minute, and only McKean's alertness and McNinch's good tackling saved the situation.
Murphy got a chance to shine when Cassidy swung the ball out to him; after beating his man he got the ball across, but Gilmour, who was fighting a lone fight at the moment, was overcome by force of numbers.
Later on Gilmour was going through when he was fouled just outside the penalty area. Reid took the free, but Moore handled the shot well. A movement on the Bangor right looked liked developing into a dangerous situation until McKean ran out and beat McKinney in a race for the ball and Ballymena were almost through again.
Then Bangor seemed to find renewed life and for a period attacked in stubborn fashion, but they met a stout defence in McCandless and McNinch, who were giving nothing away.
About twenty minutes or so from the end James Gilmour scored the equaliser in a melee following a corner, Kilpatrick catching the ball from Murphy's flag kick and lifting it over the heads of a couple of opponents for Gilmour to send it home.
Now began a great fight for supremacy, and in the succeeding exchanges Kilpatrick was injured but carried on bravely. McKinney got a great swinging pass over to Henderson, who was shaping for a shot which must have brought disaster in its wake when McNinch charged in and saved what would in all probability have been a goal.
Cassidy got the ball out of the danger zone in another breathless moment. To crown all Bangor forced a corner about three minutes from the end, but the defence prevailed.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (16 January 1931)
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