January 22, 1894
The most interesting of all the Lancashire County Cup Ties undoubtedly was that at Blackburn between the Rovers and the second league champions, and, as a proof of this, the crowd of spectators who assembled gave conclusive evidence.
The unique history of our local club in having risen to its commanding position within 16 months of its inaugural appearance roused a great amount of curiosity among the East Lancashire people, and the hearty reception with which the team was received proved that among that keen critical audience the visitors had many friends.
Prior to the game taking place, the committee of the Liverpool club were in something of a dilemma. No less than four of the team are suffering more or less from injuries received and indisposition, and it was not until the players were in the dressing room that the selection of the team took place.
However, when the sides opposed each other, they were found to be strong representatives of the respective clubs. Liverpool’s usual good fortune was most prominent by its absence on Saturday, as a small modicum of that very useful and pleasing quality would have turned Liverpool’s defeat into at least a draw, if not a victory.
The Rovers played Liverpool at their own game, that is, in going off with a tremendous burst, and for the first twenty or thirty minutes monopolising the whole the play, and securing a comfortable lead of two goals. In fact there was but one team in it during the major portion of the first half. The rock upon which the Anfield forwards stranded was the Rovers’ middle division, who were always too smart and too clever to allow the visitors a decent opening, but for all that, the Liverpool team never appeared to give up, and were at the finish of the game more full of play than their opponents.
With those sudden dashes which have frequently carried them to victory this season, the score was brought to 2-1, and with Liverpool showing continued improvement, the game, with an element of luck bestowed upon the visitors, would certainly have gone against the famous cup fighters; but cheers and smiles were again predominant when two other points were added by the Rovers, one from a penalty kick, which, in the opinion of an unbiased person ought certainly not to have been awarded.
The ball was accidentally fouled on the limit line by James McBride – a player whose gentlemanly instinct and actions have earned for him the greatest respect, and who avers that the ball struck his hand when he was attempting to head it away. This piece of misfortune practically settled Liverpool’s chance, as the remaining time being so short, it was almost an impossibility to expect to win.
However, the visitors added another point, and resolutely claimed a fourth, alleging that Ogilvie was over the line considerably when he received a shot from Malcolm McVean, being attended to at the same time by the other forwards.
As was expected the Rovers gave a more finished display, especially among the forwards and half-backs. The Liverpool halves during the first portion of the game made the error of kicking too strongly, in most cases the ball being sent to the opposing full back, thus crippling their own forwards terribly.
William McOwen was not at his best. He without question might have made a better attempt at the second goal, yet he did some splendid work, especially in the second half. Andrew Hannah and Joe McQue represent the best of the defence, both of whom, it may be said, played a fine game. Duncan McLean again allowed his roving propensities to master his discretion, and did not add to his ???station.
When they had recovered from their over-strung state, the whole of the Liverpool forwards played better football than the Rovers. Their attacks, if not quite so pretty and methodical, were far more incisive, and productive of greater danger, which was only diverted by the great skill and resource of Murray and Brandon.
The Rovers forwards commanded in brilliant fashion, but towards the end of the game overdid the passing business, and as a matter of consequence became much less effective.
Murray at back, and Anderson and Marshall at half back, were indubitably the professors of their school, whilst Chippendale, Campbell, and Hall excelled themselves in their positions forward.
The game produced an exciting struggle, and Liverpool are to be congratulated upon running such old campaigners as the Rovers to such a close and interesting finish.
(Liverpool Mercury: January 22, 1894)