5 - 1
James McPherson (pen.) (25)
Jimmy Kelly (60)
W. Jennings (York) (Referee)
By defeating Ballymena by five goals to one at the Brandywell Ground last Saturday Derry City amply avenged their Irish Cup defeat at the hands of Ballymena a week previously.
It was no secret that the Derrymen were as keen as mustard to humble their opponents, as were also the directors and the Derry public, and it is understood that a very handsome bonus was offered for a win, which shows just how eager they all were about it.
Consequently, the match attracted one of the largest crowds seen at the grounds this season. Derry City were considerably flattered by the score. While it would be folly to deny that they earned the points well, still there was not anything like the disparity in the teams the score would seem to indicate.
In fact, throughout the game Ballymena played real good football and were, if anything, the more polished eleven, but too close work in front of goal on heavy ground spoiled their chances.
When Derry scored inside the first five minutes Ballymena got on even terms almost immediately. A penalty kick gave City the lead again, which they held on up to the interval. In the second half Ballymena enjoyed the territorial advantage for a long time, but goals would not come. The homesters piled on three more, and ran out winners by five goals to one.
Ballymena were without McNinch, who was recovering from an attack of 'flu. Nelson fell back to fill the vacancy, and McCready came on at right half. There was also one change on the Derry team, McCann, their latest capture, displacing McInally at inside-left.
Playing with the breeze Derry made tracks for goal in the first minute, Curran burrowing his way through the defence and shooting over the bar. The Ballymena backs played the Derry forwards offside in succeeding attack, and looked like having successfully adopted similar tactics in the next onrush when Kelly turned in the ball for Samuel Curran to lodge it in the back of the net.
To the surprise of many the referee pointed to the middle of the field. On the restart a nice movement developed between McCready and Cassidy, the upshot of which was that Cassidy broke through and pushed the ball to Gilmour, who crossed it in from an awkward angle, and when Cassidy shot and Henderson failed to hold the ball, Jamie Shiels finished the effort by scoring the equaliser.
Derry fought back spiritedly, and when McCready failed to stop Kelly, Nelson eased the situation by conceding a corner. Later McKeen failed to hold a shot from McPherson, the ball striking the crossbar, and Hughes netting on the rebound, but the whistle had gone for a foul on the goalie.
Then Ballymena got within shooting distance again, and Kilpatrick sent across a shot which spelt danger. The Derry forwards manoeuvred to the opposite end again, where Kelly struck the crossbar, and on the rebound McPherson trapped the ball, but in doing so went off his balance, and before he could recover the ball was cleared.
Derry's next attack was spoiled by offside, and later Stewart conceded a corner in a critical moment. Again the Ballymena crossbar stopped a drive, this time from Montgomery, and on the rebound McCandless, who was giving a tip-top display, cleared well. McKeen held a good shot from T. McCann, and later the Ballymena goalie scraped away a shot from Curran at the expense of a corner.
Derry were attacking strongly, and when McKeen was beaten to the world and a goal was certain, McCandless reached up and pulled the ball down just as it was sailing in under the bar. There was just the bare possibility that the resultant penalty might be saved, but James McPherson left McKeen standing with the shot, the ball going right through the low part of the net.
Derry continued to exert stiff pressure for a time, but the vigilant Ballymena defence held the forwards at bay. McCandless particularly getting through a vast amount of solid work. Ultimately Ballymena broke away and Murphy tested Henderson. Then Cassidy initiated a brilliant attack which ended in Kilpatrick forcing an abortive corner off Williams. Kilpatrick was badly fouled on the next run, but Reid's kick failed to bring success.
The Derry goal came under fire early in the second half. Murphy forced a corner, which was taken by Stewart, and later Kilpatrick put in a dazzling shot from close range and Henderson fisted over for another corner, also taken by Stewart.
In a flash the Derry forwards were at the other end, where McKeen handled from Hughes. A free kick, taken by Reid, for a foul on Murphy narrowly missed its objective. Play now swung quickly from end to end, both goals coming under fire.
When Gilmour failed to utilise to advantage a pass up the middle from Cassidy the Derry goalie picked up just in time to prevent Murphy from getting his toe at the ball. At the opposite end Kelly failed badly with McKeen out of goal.
A long shot from Stewart gave Henderson such trouble that he conceded a corner. Further misfortune befell Ballymena when Reid failed to stop an attack and Jimmy Kelly raced through at the end of fifteen minutes to add to the lead. It was now turn in and turn about attack being succeeded by counter-attack.
From a free taken by Nelson, Cassidy trapped the ball and shot past by inches. McCandless stopped Kelly at the expense of a corner, and then Ballymena raced away again and Cassidy punted the ball out to Kilpatrick, who shot strongly, but Henderson saved.
Ballymena began to take a leading part in the game at this stage. They played find football up to a certain point, but their great weakness lay in their inability to push their attacks home. Henderson was called on at intervals, but any shots he got were not difficult to handle.
When Kelly looked like adding to the Derry score McKeen ran out and intercepted him. But their fourth goal was not long delayed. After McKeen had stopped a shot and pushed the ball out McCready, somehow, got it back into the ruck of players in front of goal and Samuel Curran pounced on an opportunity which presented itself and left McKeen helpless.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (20 February 1931)
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