The toughest defensive test yet

November 27, 1893
Liverpool had a large order to execute on Saturday. To travel over 150 miles and defeat the strengthened Newcastle team was more than they were able to accomplish, yet under the circumstances the Anfield team did the next best thing they could, and that was to avoid defeat.

The absence of William McOwen and Malcolm McVean – due to influenza – together with that of James Stott, completely demoralised the front rank, and never during the whole game did the visitors’ forwards show anything like the form exhibited in the early part of the season.

Remembering the severe drubbing received but a week or two ago from their opponents, the home team played with an almost desperate amount of earnestness, and forced the game continually, and but for the dogged stubbornness of the Liverpool defence would have brought about the downfall of the champions.

The starling character of the play of the visitors’ defence has never been more fully exemplified than on Saturday. The weakened composition of the attack suffered further loss when the game was but 20 minutes old, in the reappearance of an old strain in Patrick Gordon’s leg, and practically he was afterwards useless.

Newcastle played a better forward game than Liverpool, but only once in the game was the Anfielders’ goal really in jeopardy, that being the outcome of a reprehensible habit of Joe McQue in frequently giving corners when at all pressed, and it was from one of these that danger became apparent, and the best efforts of the visitors’ custodian were requisitioned to repel disaster.

Strange at it may appear, Liverpool, when fighting against the incline and an adverse wind, played a much superior game than when they had the advantage of these undoubted assistants. Matt McQueen, the all-round man, well filled McOwen’s position. Andrew Hannah and Duncan McLean were in splendid form, the former being safer than his more eager partner.

The whole of the halves did well, James McBride being especially prominent in retrieving any errors of his own comrades; but the most improved player of the lot is John McCartney. Those who remember his vigorous but often ineffective play of last season would have been delightedly surprised at his finished style at Newcastle.

Gordon did capitally till he broke down, but he and Douglas Dick do not combine successfully, although the latter puts in a tremendous lot of work. David Henderson did some useful touches, but owing to the want of support from the inside men he was forced to make much play for himself. Harry Bradshaw does not improve with acquaintance, and Hugh McQueen gave but a very poor display.

The Newcastle players sustained throughout the game the forcing kind of play they opened with when at Anfield. The backs and goalkeeper played sturdily, especially Harry Jeffrey, whilst William Graham was over to the fore in tackling and assisting his forwards; in fact, he may be said to be the chief factor to the mediocre play of the Liverpool forwards.

William Thompson is a capable centre, and knows how to keep his wing men together, and the numerous chances he gave to Toby Gilhespy at outside left, combined with his own dashing play, stamp him as a first-rate man. The right wing outside player did some fine work in the second half, but his partner, Thomas Crate, is too prone to foul play. Gilhespy and Joe Wallace on the left were very tricky, and caused more trouble than their confreres on the other wing.
(Liverpool Mercury: November 27, 1893)

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


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