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Weak forward play by Liverpool


November 13, 1893
Liverpool did not show up against Walsall as well as was anticipated. The low position of the latter warranted the general public in believing that the “Dicky Sams” were capable of snuffing their opponents out, but, as in most instances, when an easy thing is on, that is the time the unexpected happens, and it nearly occurred on Saturday.

The Walsall team had undergone special preparation with the idea, as we stated, not of expecting to win, but of making a good fight against their powerful antagonists as was possible.

And certainly they did make a grand fight during the first half, but eventually the Liverpool team outpaced then, and ought to have won if the forwards had been in anything like their proper mend.

That something was radically wrong is proved by the fact that only one goal was registered during the first half by the Liverpool team when they had the assistance of a st?ffish wind and the incline in their favours.

As was expected, the visitors had the game all their own way, but score they could not, and the jubilation of the crowd can be easily imagined when their team crossed over without being in the rear, for just before half-time Walsall, with a rapid dash, assisted by some blundering on the part of Duncan McLean, equalised matters.

Then it was that the splendid tactics of the Anfield defence shone-out, James McBride and Andrew Hannah being a little more conspicuous than their comrades, although each man of that division played a dashing game.

Within a quarter of an hour of that the visitors had got the measure of their opponents, and played sounder football than they had hitherto exhibited. William McOwen, owing to the really fine play of Hannah and McLean, had very little to do, and the opinion is expressed that he might have made a better effort with the shot that scored.

The half back division, although weakened by the absence of Matt McQueen, was in great form, John McCartney proving what a useful man he is by efficiently filling the former’s place.

Malcolm McVean was the only forward to show any decent form, his individual efforts, although generally speaking to be deprecated, coming in opportunely. Several times Patrick Gordon worked hard, but rambled too much. Harry Bradshaw did not show up anything so well as previously, while the extreme players were but partial successes.

Walsall can boast of a fine goalkeeper, and a pair of big and scientific backs, whose combine defence requires more than ordinary display to lower. Robert Smellie, late of Sunderland, was very safe, while Tom Bayley was at times brilliant in the extreme. R. Cook was the best of the halves, playing a grand game at centre. Walter McWhinnie was about the best of a well-balanced lot of forwards, although Sammy Holmes and S. Cox ran him a very close race.

The finest forward game the Liverpool team has shown this season was against the Preston North End at Preston, and seeing that the inclusion of the new players has not improved the combination, however, brilliant individually, it seem the most feasible plan to revert to the old order of things.

Another item the committee may with advantage take notice of, and that is not to chop and change the forward rank further. Nothing destroys the sustained cohesion of a team so much as placing men out of their position, and Notts County are not the kind of club to make experiments upon.
(Liverpool Mercury: November 13, 1893)

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Harry Bradshaw, Liverpool (Illustrated Police Budget: November 11, 1899):

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