November 2, 1896
The victory of Liverpool over West Bromwich Albion on foreign soil affords further evidence of the skill of the local team, and of their exceptionally fine form as at present constituted. A triumph on an opponent’s ground always carries with it an extra amount of satisfaction, whatever the teams may be, but especially is this the case in League games, where choice of ground often decides the verdict in these stern struggles.
It is this ability to obtain points away from home that forms one of the most pleasing features of the work performed by the Liverpool players in this season’s League tournament, and out of seven away matches seven points have been extracted, whilst on the occasions when defeat vanquished by the narrowest possible margin of one goal in each case, though, singularly enough, the victories obtained have resulted in an exactly similar manner, namely, by a difference of a single goa.
Saturday’s game was one of the most stubborn encounters that they have engaged in this season, a game characterized less by brilliant feats, collectively or individually, than by real, downright, hard plodding on the part of all concerned, and consequently was not of that fascinating nature which the spectator enjoys witnessing.
Still sufficient was shown to prove the Liverpudlians a superior team, and the ragged nature of the Albion attack contrasted unfavourably with the more finished methods of their opponents. There was quite a chapter of accidents, all of which fell to the home team, and at one time they had but nine men in the field, Reader and Richards being the absentees, whilst well on in the second half Bassett had an unfortunate knock, which stayed the game for a short period.
Under these circumstances they did extremely well to avert a larger defeat, and they did not belie their reputation of playing up boldly when the chances seemed entirely against them. It was not a scientific game, and the methods employed were distinguished more by energy than skill.
A clever bit of work ended in Liverpool scoring in the first minute, and after that both sides had chances of adding to their score, but the majority of the efforts near goal were so weak that he custodians found little difficulty in keeping their charges intact.
Liverpool were more consistent in their attack than their opponents, but they found in Williams a stumbling block to many a well meant effort, the Albion backs playing a magnificent game throughout. The Liverpool forwards played a sound game, though they were scarcely as effective as in recent encounters, but as a body they were much in advance of their opponents.
They were unfortunate in not adding to their score, Ross on one occasion racing clear away, and, with only Reader to beat, he kicked the ball a shade too strongly, which enabled that worthy to take it from his toes, and thus save an otherwise certain goal; whilst at the other end Higgins kicked away a fast shot from Willie Michael from under the bar, and Allan almost knocked down the crossbar with a terrific drive.
The centre forward played a clever game, and controlled his wings in a capable fashion; and Michael also gave a smart exhibition of tricky and effective work, distinguishing himself in more than one particular. Ross gave a good display, but the outside men were not as effective as usual.
The halves were always busy, Holmes in particular doing exceptionally well, and in antagonising Bassett and Flawitt he was opposed to the only dangerous part of the Albion attack. Much of the inefficacy of the home front rank was due to the inability of this wing to display its customary prowess, and Holmes was fully equal to every movement. Neill and McCartney worked zealously throughout, and experienced little difficulty in breaking up the attempts at combination by the home van.
Wilkie and Goldie played finely further behind, and the latter at present is in grand form. He was rarely beaten, his kicking being most judicious, and, in conjunction with his partner, formed a sound, impenetrable barrier, against which the Albion attack strove in vain.
Storer kept goal in his usual successful style, and his skill and resource were often requisitioned to repel shots, which mostly originated on the right wing, and for the second successive Saturday he escaped being beaten.
The display of the Albion must have been very disappointing to their supporters, their efforts being weak and unstained, whilst their shooting was terribly feeble, and in front of goal they were almost useless. They possess two or three really clever players, but as a team they form but a moderate lot.
Richards were lane, and of little service to his side, this weakness in the centre doubtless accounting for the feeble performance of the front rank. Bassett was easily first, but he was badly supported, though Flewitt showed better form than in the first game at Anfield. The rest, however, were sadly deficient. Fortunately the defence was in better trim, or the Albion would have experienced a disastrous time.
Higgins gave a grand display at half, and was ably backed up by Banks, whilst Ford did not shape at all badly in his new position. T. Perry played a good, though somewhat unorthodox, game at full back, but Williams was simply head and shoulders above all the others. His strong kicks were invaluable, and no matter how hardly he was pressed he rarely failed to effect a decisive clearance. He was the mainstay of the team, and without him the Albion would have been in a sad plight.
Reader kept goal well, and he had not the slightest chance with the shot that scored. His saves were neat and effective, and he used his feet in clever style. With the defence of the Albion there is little fault to find, but the forwards are extremely weak, and scoring goal seems beyond them. They had chances of equalising, Garfield missing a centre from Flewitt with no one near him, whilst in the second half Flewitt and Richards were equally culpable.
Liverpool were the superior team, and fully deserved their victory. They are going very strongly at present, and their success is extremely gratifying to all, but especially to those through whose capability and tact the club has reached such a proud position in the League, a position which, whilst reflecting the greatest credit on the players, is a fitting tribute to the efforts of those in authority, to whose management much of this success is due.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: November 2, 1896)
Billy Williams, West Bromwich Albion F.C.