February 4, 1895
The Liverpool team cannot take much credit to themselves for their performance on Saturday. Their efforts were always of a disjointed character, and never approaching anything of first-class style. Even when it is remembered that the Barnsley St. Peter’s administered the quietus to Worksop, who had previously defeated Grimsby, and in addition hold a very strong reputation for impregnable home play, few, if any, of Anfield’s supporters had the slightest misgiving as to Liverpool’s capability to enter the second round.
They will do so, certainly, now, as even in the case of the protest (laid by the Barnsley committee against extra time being played) being upheld, the replayed match should prove an easy win for the Liverpudlians, who will then have the advantage of playing at home. But, without doubt, the whole exhibition of the First Leaguers being so poor, and requiring finish, really warranted the low opinion frequently expressed of them by the spectators.
So feebly did the forwards combine, and so stingless was their final attempts, that Greaves had only two really decent shots to negotiate during the whole progress of the game. In fact, neither goalkeeper had much to do, the defence on either side being far in advance of the attack, and the game can be compared with many that Liverpool played last year in the second division, when first-class forward play was great rarity.
The ground had a few peculiarities, resembling on first appearance, the enclosure of West Bromwich Albion and Small Heath, but the insipid play of Liverpool cannot be attributed to that item. The whole matter lay principally in the fact that the Liverpool team, to a man, did not enter into the game with sufficient determination, while they sadly overestimated their own powers, after scoring the first goal, which took place within 25 minutes of the start. It seemed then as though Liverpool had about weighed up their opponents, and were likely to carry all before them, but by adopting a shilly-shally, dilly-dalling mode of procedure they were soon made cognisant of the grand staying powers and evident determination of the home lot to fight to the bitter end, and although the ball was much oftener in the home quarters than anywhere else, still when the Saints go a chance they were invariably dangerous and difficult to shake off.
It is just such a team as Barnsley, who are as full of fire and go when the play ceases as when they started, and who throughout are ardent triers, who upset many better reputed club than themselves, and had they done the trick on Saturday no one who saw the game would have been in the last surprised.
Matt McQueen had a very awkward shot to deal with in each half, and as he cleared them under difficulty he may be said to be exonerated from any blame so far as the result goes. Duncan McLean opened all right, but got too confident and easy going afterwards, and unfortunately allowed himself to slip back into his old fault of getting among the forwards. This is regrettable, as he has shown signs of improvement of late.
John Curran was about the only one to shine with brilliance, and the steady and clean, yet vigorous kicking of this player was a treat to witness.
Owing to the slackness of the forwards, the general play of the half-backs suffered deterioration, but their work was always good, if not up to its usual high standard, while the meteoric flashes of the home forwards at certain intervals kept Joe McQue and his sides de camp ever on the alert for contingencies.
Never did the forwards shape like playing the game properly. Frequently did they carry it into the enemy’s camp by a series of very pretty and accurate passes, but when the final touch was required it seemed as though each player had completely lost his head, and kicked at randon.
Davie Hannah, Jimmy Ross and Harry Bradshaw each had certain goals had the ball been sent straight. Malcolm McVean did very well considering the forward play as a whole, as also did John Drummond, whose fast dashes down the wing often completely changed the aspect of the game, but with the centre trio at fault the outside wing men were not given such good opportunities as usual, while it must be remembered that the play of the full-backs of St. Peter’s team, which was of a very high order, also had more than a little to do with the checking of the visiting forwards.
Commenting upon the home team, who throughout are a tall and well-built lot, too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the defence. To them alone stands the credit of making a draw with the League team.
Joe Greaves in goal was very clever with high shots, but the two occasions where he was beaten were by low fast shots, which he made but a half-hearted attempt to repulse. Nixon, the left full-back, is good enough for any First League team, if Saturday’s display is to be taken as a criterion. He was everywhere – one moment assisting his halves, and the next heading out of goal, and being fast and a sure kick he scored heavily off the Liverpool forwards.
Coupe also put in some capital work, which was of the steady plodding kind, and was very useful at times. The whole of the half-backs are excellent for a team of such calibre. Bill Keach, the right half, was as ubiquitous as Holt at his best, whilst both Hey and Black were veritable thorns in the sides of all opponents.
None of their forwards are of much account, except Vost, the centre, who was always prepared for any opportunity, and invariably fell back at any emergency. Partridge at outside left at times did some clever passing with Thompson, and the goal which Vost scored came from some work from the above-named pair.
After the match, the Barnsley Committee laid a written protest with the referee against the legitimacy of the extra time, which was allowed to be played by him under a misapprehension. The rule states that extra time must only be played by the mutual consent of both teams, the referee having no voice in the matter, and as it was only arranged between the respective captains, acting on their own responsibility at the end of the game, the Barnsley committee repudiate their captain’s actions, and have sent in their protest in proper form, which will be brought before the council next Wednesday.
Next Saturday will be the match of the season. Blackburn Rovers have always been great favourites in Liverpool since the early days, and their visit on Saturday to Anfield to compete in the second round of the Lancashire Cup with the Liverpool Club is bound to create a large amount of interest. Last year the Rovers succeeded in throwing the Liverpool club out of the same competition, after an intensely exciting game, by 4 goals to 3, but as that match took place at Blackburn it is surmised, now that the venue is changed, a different result may follow.
(Liverpool Mercury: February 4, 1895)
Matt McQueen, the Liverpool F.C. goalkeeper.