March 8, 1897
The past week has been one of the most successful the Liverpool Club has experienced this season, and though an English Cup-tie, League game, and friendly match have been participated in, their record has remained untarnished, their opponents in each case having to acknowledge defeat from a superior team. Reviewing the games in the order they occurred, the replayed tie at Nottingham takes precedence, and in point of merit likewise ranks in the same position.
Although only able to make a draw at Anfield, the Liverpudlians were expected by many ardent admirers to account for the Foresters on their own turf, this opinion resulting from a comparison of the abilities of the two teams in the game of the previous Saturday. Those anticipations were justified, and for the first time in their career Liverpool enter the semi-final. They fully deserved their victory on Wednesday last, and were clearly ahead of the home players.
Little advantage was derived from the wind in the first half, and they showed better combination in the second portion, scoring their only against the breeze. All round the team gave satisfaction. Billy Dunlop filling Tom Wilkie’s post in splendid fashion, whilst the other members of the team worked with commendable determination to achieve the success which their efforts fully deserved, and the Forest, after showing such fine form away from home, failed on their first appearance before their enthusiastic and excited supporters.
The defeat came as a mild surprise to the latter, but even here it was acknowledged that the better team had proved victorious. The opponents of Liverpool in the penultimate stage of the competition have yet to be decided, but whichever of the two is to be met there is bound to be a desperate struggle for supremacy, and the issue at present appears delightfully uncertain.
The following evening (Thursday) the Anfielders were opposed by the Wolves in the return League game, which had been postponed from the 20th ultimo, and, despite the hard game at Nottingham, the men showed really first-class football, and giving the visitors no quarter ran out easy winners by three goals to nil. The display of the losers was one of the worst seen on the Anfield ground this season, and their position in the League table is evidently a fair criterion of their abilities.
The ground was very greasy, but despite this disadvantage the home men controlled the ball in good style, and the left wing was at its best. Frank Becton gave a splendid exposition of tricky and effective play, his skill in the former respect enabling him repeatedly to outwit the opposing defence, whilst his partner Harry Bradshaw combined capitally, and his clever runs and centres formed one of the chief features of the game. George Allan was also in grand form, but the right wing was not up to its usual standard, despite occasional flashes of brilliance.
The home halves gave a grand exhibition, each man being seen to the great advantage. Robert Neill in the centre was perfectly ubiquitous, and William Beats was almost powerless, whilst both Thomas Cleghorn and John McCartney were untiring in their efforts, and never seemed satisfied with work. It is rarely this line are at fault, and their consistent and effective work has throughout the season been uniformly excellent.
The backs were also in fine trim, though there was a finish about Archie Goldie’s display that stamped him as superior. Billy Dunlop kicked very powerfully and cleanly, and the club is fortunate in possessing such a capable substitute for this onerous position. Harry Storer had little to do in goal, most of the shots which reached him being slow, but occasionally his skill and coolness were exhibited by many tricky clearances.
The Wolves’ front rank was very weak, and they were unable to ever get really going. When they did execute a fairly capable movement their wretched shooting entirely nullified all chance of success, and they never appeared to have the slightest opportunity of winning. Henry Wood was good at full back, but George Fleming made several mistakes. Billy Tennant kept goal remarkably well, and had no chance with any of the shots which scored. Thus the Liverpudlians have credited themselves with four points from the Midlanders, and have shown sufficient superiority in their play to fully warrant this result.
The “friendly” game with the Scottish League champions attracted a respectable crowd, and though the first half of the match was somewhat tame the second produced a really capital contest, and both teams showed something approaching their true form. If games such as these are played at all it is necessary that both sets of players should exert themselves to win, and it was therefore decidedly satisfactory to witness the creditable display after the interval.
The forwards on both sides exhibited some fine open play, the visitors giving the impression of being a fast and tricky ret, whilst the home left was again responsible for clever combined movements.
The game was fast and pleasantly contested, and at times was of a very high quality.
The home forwards included Andy McCowie, who partnered Malcolm McVean on the right wing, and, although on the small side, the new player made a very good impression. He was the chief agent in securing the winning goal, and his play improved as the game progressed. Frank Becton and Harry Bradshaw were extremely clever, and the wing at present is going in very strong fashion.
Halves and backs were always reliable, and Harry Storer gave a splendid display between the upright’s. The match was remarkable for the fine exposition of goal-keeping shown by both custodians, the visitors’ keeper having a tremendous amount of work to perform. He dealt with all manner of shots in grand style, some of his saves being wonderful, and better work between the uprights need not be wished for. At half Bob McLaren was the chief exponent, though the other two were seldom wanting.
The backs played a cool game, kicking with judgment, and the team, as a whole appears to be finely balanced, scarcely a weak spot being noticeable. For a game of this nature interest was fully maintained, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon’s sport being witnessed.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: March 8, 1897)