GOALS were in abundance back in 1983 as Coleraine’s drive for a UEFA Cup spot continued with a 4-2 success against Ballymena United…
Saturday, April 2, 1983
Ballymena United 2-4 Coleraine
Goals – Malone (’44 mins), McQuiston (’88 mins); Tabb (’20 mins), McDowell (’31 mins), Mahon (’56 mins), O’Kane (’83 mins)
COLERAINE crushed ‘derby’ rivals Ballymena United 4-2 last Saturday and recorded their second win of the season there.
It was never a great game but there were plenty of goals to keep the fans happy, although United supporters were critical about their side’s very poor showing. Lukewarm would best describe the effort some of them put into their performances.
For Coleraine it was another two points safely tucked under their belts in the drive for a UEFA Cup spot next season and that was really all that mattered.
Sloan sent over a cross from the right and a goal looked certain when Magee committed himself and lost the ball but two United players missed the chance to put their team ahead. Minutes afterwards Eugene McNutt put back a weak pass to Magee who refused to come and collect the ball and Ballymena failed to capitalise on the error.
Suddenly, the pendulum. swung Coleraine’s way. Tabb was permitted a free header and obliged by nodding in Pat Mullan’s right wing corner. In 31 minutes came Ronnie McDowell’s long-awaited goal. Raymond McCoy’s pass left the right-back in space and he worked his way into the penalty area past two defenders and pushed the ball well out of the way of goalkeeper Dennis Matthews, who was left sprawling on the ground. It was McDowell’s first senior goal in four years and it was a beauty!
Before half-time, Ballymena replied with Malone getting the vital touch to crash home a right wing cross. But the Coleraine defence was again to blame for giving the striker so much time to line himself up and ram a blistering drive into the roof of the net.
Ballymena were then without teenage winger Stephen Penney, who had walked out after refusing to carry out instructions from caretaker manager Alex Donald. The lad was instantly dismissed and Stephen Wright replaced him.
Coleraine continued their quest for goals but in unspectacular fashion. At times the match lapsed into periods of lifeless midfield battling. Errors replaced any skill which had previously been illustrated and only Kevin Mahon’s cheeky 56th minute goal broke the monotony. Raymond Henry, a brilliant architect in midfield, took a quick throw-in on the left flank and Mahon couldn’t believe his eyes as he chased after the ball unchallenged and poked it past Matthews and into the net, via the inside of the far post. The lack of covering in the Ballymena defence was simply unbelievable.
In 76 minutes a poor McDowell back pass let Wright in but his shot hit the woodwork. There were two late goals, with Crockard pulling Gerry O’Kane down inside the penalty area and O’Kane himself hammered home the spot kick in the 83rd minute.
Two minutes from time Sammy McQuiston got a consolation second goal for the home side when he walked through the Coleraine rearguard and tucked the ball into the corner of the net.
To sum it all up: plenty of goals but a distinct lack of real entertainment and the man who is appointed successor to Ivan Murray at United will have an unenviable task rebuilding a side which, according to Alex Donald, lacks morale and discipline.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Matthews, McCreery, Huston, Cooke, Crockard, Burns, Penney (Wright), Guy, McQuiston, Malone, Sloan.
COLERAINE: Magee, McDowell, McNutt, O’Kane, Tabb, Mullan, Mahon, Wade, Hutton, McCoy, Henry.
Sub Not Used: Smyth
*Many thanks to Hunter McClelland for the research*