April 20, 1896
Liverpool v Small Heath.
This important game, owing to good fortune of the Liverpool club in the draw, was down for settlement on the Anfield ground on Saturday. Although the contest had been anxiously looked forward to the crowd did not exceed 20,000.
The teams were as follow:
Liverpool: Harry Storer, Archie Goldie, Barney Battles, John McCartney, Joe McQue, Thomas Cleghorn, Malcolm McVean, Jimmy Ross, George Allan, Frank Becton, Harry Bradshaw.
Small Heath: William Meates, Frank Lester, Sid Oliver, Tot Farnall, Alex Leake, Adam Fraser, Frank Mobley, William Robertson, John Jones, Fred Wheldon, Tommy Hands.
Liverpool lost the toss; but were the first to gain ground, Bradshaw and Cleghorn working the ball down nicely, the outside man ultimately centring in grand fashion, but without result, the ball at length going over the line from McCartney’s head. A foul against Liverpool looked none to favourable for the home team, but Ross headed out finely, and again the Anfield forwards ran down, but were repulsed by Oliver, while from a foul by Jones against McQue, Battles placed beautifully, and Bradshaw tested Meates to the utmost. McVean also suffering the hardest of lines in not scoring from the rebound.
So superior were the Liverpool forwards at this stage that they held command for some time, Ross, Allan, and McVean monopolising the greater portion of the play, and a couple of near chances to lower the Heathen’s goal were allowed to escape by the nearest shave.
A foul to Small Heath at length gave the visitors an opening, but Goldie headed the ball neatly to McQue, and Allan and Bradshaw brought off a splendid piece of combination, in which the Heathens’ defence were completely beaten; but Bradshaw could not reach the final touch.
A long pass by Mobley appeared to be dangerous for the Anfield team, but again Goldie stepped in, and the play once more went in Liverpool’s favour. McQue was then hurt, but quickly recovered, and immediately beat his man spiritedly, while a little later on the same player led up a strong attack upon the Small Heath goal.
Still maintaining the pressure, the Liverpool men were continually aggressive, but could no find an open spot, owing to the compact defence of their opponents, Lester and Oliver showing good form. A burst away by Wheldon brought out Storer for the first time, Battles afterwards nipping in and sending forward with a fine lunge. From Cleghorn’s throw in, Bradshaw crossed smartly to Ross, but the latter player was jammed before he could get in his kick, although McVean made tremendous efforts to recover the lost opportunity.
At length, from a clever return by Goldie, Ross settled on the ball and gave Allan, who in his best style drove the leather at express-speed into the net, the ball striking the crossbar in its course, the game having then been in progress about half an hour. Scarcely had the ball been restarted when the visitors’ goal was again in jeopardy, and the Liverpool team must be accounted unlucky in not scoring.
As the outcome of a foul by Ross, Hands and Wheldon got into a nice swing, and Goldie and McCartney were consequently hard pressed, but a strong clearance by Battles eased the brief pressure, and in a trice the play was once more located in the visitors’ goal mouth. Bradshaw was spoiled, as was Ross also, of a certain goal by a call back for foul play. Just as time drew near Bradshaw again almost brought off the trick with a magnificent screw, which Meates very luckily saved with his knees.
On resuming Ross was appealed against, and the following free-kick opened-up an easy chance for Small Heath, but Robertson missed, and Battles ran the ball into touch. Cleghorn nipped in later, and Bradshaw and Becton, sailed along the wing, Allan and Ross each endeavouring to send along to McVean, who had an open goal, but the captain’s pass was charged down.
A temporary raid by Small Heath was put and end to by Goldie and Battles, and then followed some beautiful touches by the whole of the Liverpool forwards, Ross and McVean showing up in particular, and McCartney wound up a grand piece of work by scoring a second goal.
Away went the teams at a great pace, and in less than two minutes Bradshaw met a centre from the right wing, and with a capital screw put on the third point. This last point virtually settled the contest, as the succeeding play went all in favour of Liverpool, the speed and stamina of the homesters serving them thus in good stead.
Again a beautiful sequence of passes brought Bradshaw into prominence, and when he was in possession of a clear field, the Liverpudlian was tripped – a case of hard lines. From the free-kick, nicely taken by Cleghorn, McVean headed the fourth goal, amidst tumultuous applause.
As the game continued the whole of the play was confined to the visitors’ quarters, the latter appearing to have had enough, and twice over Bradshaw was fouled, or at least ab attempt was made to do so, which was a most unfortunate procedure for Liverpool, as a fifth goal was an almost certainty in one instance.
At the closing stages the contest slackened down somewhat, and Liverpool were very nearly being the victims of a mistake by the referee, as Hands undoubtedly handled when getting in position for a shot at Storer. A little later on McVean got away finely, but was badly fouled by Oliver, and from McCartney’s placing a heavy bully was formed around the Small Heath goal, but without result, and the final score read: Liverpool, 4 goals; Small Heath, nil.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: April 20, 1896)