4 - 4
4 - 4
Joseph Cassidy (20)
James Gilmour (47)
John Murphy (77)
Thomas Kilpatrick (78)
James Fulton (4)
John Weir (27)
Harry Johnston (65)
John Weir (75)
J. McClean (Belfast) (Referee)
Portadown, who are usually an unimpressive side away from home, gave Ballymena a fright last Saturday at the Showgrounds by leading by a goal at the interval and increasing the lead in the second half.
Four minutes from the start Fulton netted for Portadown, and it was not until some sixteen minutes afterwards that Cassidy turned a fine shot into goal for the equaliser. Then Weir gave Portadown the lead, which they held until the interval whistle.
A minute after the resumption Gilmour scored the equaliser in difficult circumstances, but later Johnston put Portadown ahead, and Weir added a fourth. With only seven minutes to go it looked doubtful whether Ballymena would be able to keep at least one point at home, but within a couple of of minutes a sudden transformation came over the game, Gilmour scoring Ballymena's third and Kilpatrick the fourth, so that the teams were now on level terms.
Ballymena, although displaying form below the average, were the more finished lot and should have won the match, which was finished in a snow storm.
In spite of having to face both sun and wind Ballymena were early dangerous. In the second attack Shiels pushed the ball up neatly to Gilmour, who, when in difficulties, shot past narrowly. Portadown were soon knocking at the home goal, and when McCann had failed to hold a shot from McDonnell danger threatened as Johnston raced in, but McCandless cleared almost on the goal line, and in doing so saved what would undoubtedly have been a goal but for his good positional play.
Indulging in first-time work and belting the ball about freely the 'Ports' invaded the home end again, and with only four minutes gone James Fulton opened the scoring following a scuffle in front of goal.
A good tackle by McNinch cut short Weir's race along the wing, and from the subsequent clearance Cassidy got possession and flashed in a shot which just missed the desired objective. Both teams were quick on the ball and some fast work was seen in the early stages.
Uprichard was often in action, but so far was able to keep his charge intact. He saved well from Gilmour following a corner, but a little later was beaten to the wide when Murphy finished a splendid run by crossing the ball into Joseph Cassidy, who turned it deftly into the net.
For some time after this Ballymena exerted severe pressure. Kilpatrick got across a neat centre from which Murphy just missed with a header. Then Murphy dropped the ball in again and Cassidy drove hard for goal, but Gilmour happened to be in the way of the ball.
Still pressing Ballymena forced a couple of corners per Kilpatrick, but a steady defence kept the home forwards out. Then Portadown made strides for the opposite end and Hunter volleyed a high shot which McCann failed to hold, the ball going between his hands and striking the crossbar, and on the rebound it dropped in front of goal, where Weir tapped it through with nobody to beat.
McCann was soon in section again, this time dealing successfully with a trio o shots from the right wing. Once more the homesters carried play to their opponents goal, where from Kilpatrick's centre Gilmour was not far off the mark with a header.
Stewart cleared well at the home end when Johnston was all but through, and in the next minute McCann cleared from a corner kick. From now until the interval Ballymena did nearly all the pressing, but the equaliser still eluded them, though Gilmour had hard lines with a first time effort.
The second half opened briskly, McCann saving from Blair in the first few seconds. Then Gilmour initiated a movement which led to the equaliser. Racing up the centre, he tapped the ball to Murphy, who immediately pushed it in front, and, with the goalie making a scramble for possession, James Gilmour turned the ball into the goal when almost lying on the ground. Cassidy, who had not yet reappeared, came on shortly after this.
The game was stopped momentarily so that Reid, the Ballymena captain, who was injured, could receive attention. Activity on the Portadown left wing caught McNinch standing too far up the field, but, fortunately, McCandless sized up the situation at once, and, racing across the field, he cleared to touch just in time.
For a considerable period after this it was nearly all Ballymena's game, but though the forwards worked hard enough they failed to function properly.
Portadown's first invasion of the home end for a long period ended in further success when Harry Johnston scored with a ground shot, which McCann made no effort to save.
A snowstorm swept over the country after this, but the teams battled away, caring little for the elements. Uprichard was injured in making a save but was soon able to resume. Then the 'Ports' broke away again, and when McNinch held on to the ball until he was robbed, Weir got possession and found no difficulty in adding the fourth.
At the moment the outlook was none to bright for Ballymena. Suddenly, however, a quick change came over the game, and within a couple of minutes the scores were level, John Murphy scoring from Gilmour's pass, and Thomas Kilpatrick heading through another from a well-placed cross from Reid.
From now until the end Ballymena were the more dangerous side, and had hard lines in not getting a fifth goal when Gilmour put in a great shot which, however, Uprichard saved at the expense of a corner.
Snow was still falling when the final whistle blew.
Match report written by Ballymena Observer (6 March 1931)
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