April 20, 1896
The test matches were perhaps viewed with greater general interest than the evolutions of the Crystal Palace, and it must be said that the games came out fairly-well in accordance with form. In obtaining a point at Ardwick the Throstles must thank their defenders, who were, when the other departments were hopelessly beaten, always up to the old traditional form of the club, by their persistent saving – the outcome of indomitable pluck.
The attendance was not what might have been expected, but doubtless the extra charge for admission had much to do with the diminution. At Anfield Road popular charges resulted in a great gathering, and there is no gainsaying the wisdom of the managers of the club in this respect. There was big attendance, and the proceeds were but a few pounds short of £500, so that the Small Heath officials would have some solatium for their crushing defeat. On the form displayed by the Liverpudlians a double reverse should be effected this afternoon at Small Heath, and should this be forthcoming we are almost certain to be doubly represented in the select circle next season.
At length the opportunity for Liverpool to show their claims for higher honours came about on Saturday, and well did they exhibit their merit and right for the entrée into better class football. So pronounced was the superiority of Liverpool at Anfield that almost from the start the game went in favour of the home team, and with even the varies type in football matters it was plainly seen that there was but one team in the contest.
Although losing the toss placed the Liverpudlians at a disadvantage they having to contend against a bright sun and wind, the latter went right away from the start, and by dash, skill, and judgment were always one too many for their opponents. So one-sided was the game generally that there is little or nothing to say about the encounter, and as a really-good match the fight on Saturday – if fight it can be called – will rank as a very poor affair indeed.
In fact, if Liverpool have nothing better to encounter than the team as represented by Small Heath on Saturday, their position in the first League is secured. There is no doubt, however, that the Heathens were simply rushed off their feet by the fast and clever play of the Liverpool men, and not allowed to get into any swing, and are not likely to be so easily disposed of today at Birmingham. In fact, the referee, after the match, remarked to the writer that the exposition of Small Heath on Saturday was about the worst he had seen from them this season, and warned the Liverpool men not to indulge in too much clever work on the peculiar ground of the Midland club today, but to start in the same determined manner in which they opened the game at Anfield on Saturday.
There is no question that the home team were the better conditioned combination on Saturday’s play, and therefore by forcing the pace will make matters more assured in today’s match. Frequent adverse remarks were made against the seaport club for easing up when victory was well in hand, but had the critics only thought a little they would have seen that it was far wiser for the team to reserve as much latent energy for today’s game as possible, and if the Liverpool team can but obtain either one or two other points out of Small Heath it will be of much more importance to the Liverpool public than by defeating the Heathens by seven or eight goals, which total the local eleven could as easily have recorded as the number already to their credit.
Of the player, Harry Storer had about an easy a task as he has had this season, as he only played the ball twice throughout the engagement. Archie Goldie and Barney Battles were more than sufficient to check the opposing forwards; and although the former did not shine so brilliantly as the ex-Celt, yet he had the more dangerous wing to encounter, and several of his touches with his head to his own half-way line were extremely judicious. Battles created a splendid impression, and on his play of Saturday full-back is his proper position.
The whole of the half-way line, as usual, were untiringly clever in prosecution of their duties, and John McCartney’s success as a scorer was very gratifying. Thomas Cleghorn was the hardest worker, while Joe McQue was as ubiquitous as ever.
Of the forwards, Frank Becton led the van, and he, George Allan, and Harry Bradshaw carried off the honours of the day. The centre came out in great style, and the shot he scored with was simply a terrific affair altogether, and utterly unstoppable. Becton was the hardest worked, and he made a lot of play for Bradshaw, who was extremely brilliant. Jimmy Ross in a quiet way was very useful, and seemed to be saving himself, and no doubt when the pinch comes in later-on matches he will show up strongly. Malcolm McVean ran well, and combined well with his partner, and he, Ross and McCartney were well deserved of the round of applause which brought the second goal, especially for their clever finessing.
William Meates in the Heathens’ goal, was very safe, yet a trifle lucky on two occasions, and had Mr. Tom Armitt been less-expecting in dealing with trivial fouls would certainly have been defeated oftener. Frank Lester and Sid Oliver were very poor in the first half, but were pumped out then, Oliver especially, and the latter made matters worse by indiscriminate charging. Alex Leake and Adam Fraser best represented the half-way line, while Fred Wheldon and Tommy Hands stood out far above their confreres in the front rank.
The same team that played on Saturday will do service for Liverpool today.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: April 20, 1896)