April 4, 1896
Liverpool v Manchester City
The return League engagement between these clubs took place at the Hyde Road ground, Manchester, yesterday, before about 25,000 spectators. No doubt, due to the beautiful weather prevailing, the crowd was of abnormal proportions, and the spectators came rolling up so early that the gates were closed a little after three, the official figures of the gate receipts being give as £800.
The City team were fully representative, but the visitors were unfortunately compelled to dispense with the services of Jimmy Ross and John Holmes though injuries. The full list of players were:
Liverpool: Harry Storer, Archie Goldie, Tom Wilkie, Thomas Cleghorn, Joe McQue, Barney Battles, Malcolm McVean, Fred Geary, George Allan, Frank Becton, Harry Bradshaw.
Manchester City: Charlie Williams, Charles Ditchfield, David Robson, George Mann, Thomas Chapman, James McBride, Billy Meredith, Patrick Finnerhan, Robert Hill, Hugh Morris, Alec Gillies.
Mr. John Lewis was referee.
McQue, who acted as captain in Ross’s absence, won the toss, and of course, chose the assistance of the slight wind blowing. The opening stages were confined to midfield play, with several throws in from touch, but at length Becton placed neatly to Allan, who shot with terrific force just over the bar, Battles repeating the performance a moment or two later, but a previous foul nullified the effort. From the resulting free-kick Cleghorn returned the ball into goal, and the City goal underwent a severe scrimmage, Ditchfield ultimately clearing with a huge kick. Meredith took up the running, and, being fouled by Wilkie, the play was located in the Liverpool quarters, but the penalty kick was safely put outside.
A brilliant dash by Bradshaw from a pass by Battles brought the Liverpool forwards again in evidence, and Geary and McVean only just failed by the merest chance to score. A foul in midfield, misplaced by Chapman, went over the line. The City forwards, grandly led by Finnerhan and his partner, came dashing down again towards Storer, but were not allowed to get within shooting distance by Goldie and Wilkie. From a lunge by Robson, Morris was placed in possession, and, passing to Hill, he in turn sent to the right wing, and Wilkie being beaten, scored in a quarter of an hour, after Storer partially saved, the Liverpool goalkeeper having failed to fall back at the pinch.
Right away Liverpool earned a corner, which, being finely placed, brought about a foul in the City goal mouth, which was not utilised to the best effect. Another corner came immediately afterwards, and again the City goal was subjected to a brief, but severe, bombardment, which eventually was raise by a wild shot by McVean. By adoption of the kick and rush system the Manchester men once again raided the Liverpool quarters, but Mann eased the pressure by sending wide at the finish, and in a twinkling the game was being carried on at the other end till McBride relieved finely.
At the stage the City forwards showed signs of improvement, and, by following out the lines of correct football, Hill tested Storer severely, to which he as splendidly replied. Twice over Geary essayed a fast sprint but each time he was unsuccessful, McBride doing good work. Battles then came under the ban of the referee for illegitimate play, which item was followed by a beautiful series of passes by the Liverpool forwards, Allan being upset when in the act of shooting. Owing, without doubt, to the intense excitement, fouls were the order of the day.
By consistent play the Liverpool men were once more in command, and both Bradshaw and Becton suffered the hardest of lines with two splendid attempts, the latter’s being the finest effort so far. A glorious opportunity was given the visitors by a free-kick near the goalmouth, but Battles made but poor use of the chance; and in Battles made but poor use of the chance; and in a trice Morris propelled a lightning shot at Storer which the latter coolly kicked away. Keeping up the attack in grand form, the Liverpool forwards penned the Citizens to the goalmouth, but could not manage to get the equalising point, and half-time arrived with the home team leading by one goal to nil.
On resuming, Liverpool at once went away with great dash, and Bradshaw had two fine shies in less than as many minutes, the latter going just outside the post with terrific speed. To this the home team responded gallantly, and McQue stopped a long centre by Meredith just on the goal-line, which brought a fruitless corner. Well supported by their defence, Liverpool raided again strongly, but were repulsed. The pace was in no way abated, but, of anything, increased, for the ball travelled from end to end with wonderful rapidity, Storer, in one of the characteristic rushes of the City right wing, bringing off a magnificent save right under the bar.
The game was at this juncture stopped for injuries to two of home team, after which Geary was given a clear field, but preferred to stop and dodge instead of taking a flying shot, which, without doubt, was the best possible course under the circumstances, as his work at the finish cam to nought. Allan was next penalised for pushing, and the free-kick proved a most awkward affair for Liverpool, the ball striking the post and falling in front of goal, but it was at length hooked away.
Although given numerous opportunities by their own defence, the Liverpool forwards seemed quite unequal to the task of meeting the Manchester men, an were beaten repeatedly. Towards the closing stages the City were distinctly the better-conditioned team. However, as time approached, the Liverpool men brought off a splendid bit of clever football, Bradshaw and Becton leading up to Allan, who in his very best style dash through, and gave Williams no earthly chance, thus equalising within five minutes of the finish. As can be imagined, this almost unexpected success inspired the visitors to renewed efforts, and Williams was given several handfuls in quick succession, the ball on one occasion being within two yards of the line, and out of the reach of the visiting forwards. Just as the final blast of the whistle sounded, the Liverpool men dashed down in determined style, and Geary appeared to have the goal at his mercy, but somehow he unaccountably sent the ball wide, and the final result was a draw of 1 goal each, a fitting close to a grandly-fought and exciting game.
Liverpool have now again won the Second Division championship.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: April 4, 1896)