September 6, 1897
Liverpool opened their League programme by opposing Stoke away from home, this being the second engagement of the Potters, who had defeated Notts County on the preceding Thursday.
Liverpool made two changes from the team which drew at Goodison Park, McCartney and Bradshaw displacing John Holmes and Joe Lumsden, whilst on the home side, Pugh, who is a Welsh international, and hails from Wrexham, deposed Ezekiel “Zeke” Johnston on the right wing.
There were about 5,000 persons present when the following players under the direction of Mr. Jeffries, arranged themselves on their respective sides:
Liverpool: Harry Storer, Archie Goldie, Billy Dunlop, John McCartney, Joe McQue, Thomas Cleghorn, Robert Marshall, William Walker, Daniel Cunliffe, Frank Becton, Harry Bradshaw.
Stoke: Freddie Johnson, Tom J. Robertson, Jack Eccles, Joe Ponsonby, Jimmy Grewer, Joe Murphy, Harry Pugh, Jimmy Hill, Tom Hill, Willie Maxwell, Joe Schofield.
Stoke won the toss, Cunliffe starting up the slope, and in the first minute McQue shot over the bar. The home team were quickly at the other end, and Maxwell gave Pugh a grand chance, which was badly utilised. Liverpool retaliated, and, after Bradshaw and Becton had carried the ball down, the former centre, and Cunliffe drove the ball straight at Johnston, who easily cleared.
Stoke pressed after this, and, after Maxwell had headed outside the posts, Dunlop gave a corner, which was well placed by Pugh, and Maxwell this time headed a fine goal, right out of Storer’s reach. Liverpool were almost through after this, for Robertson, fouling close in, was penalised, and the ball bobbed about under the bar for some time, Cleghorn eventually just missing with a fast shot.
McCartney cleverly robbed Maxwell, and, giving to the right, Marshall sent to Cunliffe, who tested Johnston with a beauty. Then T.Hill had a glorious chance from a weak return by Goldie, shooting wide with the goal at his mercy; whilst at the other end a grand centre from Marshall was narrowly cleared by Johnston. Liverpool at this period were experiencing very hard lines in not scoring, but Stoke again assumed the upper hand, and, after Cunliffe had been hurt, Schofield seemed certain to score, but Cleghorn kicked away from under the bar.
Another fine shot from Pugh was brilliantly saved by Storer, and the Cunliffe beat Eccles, and getting close in, banged the ball against the upright. Stoke had several chances but were weak in front, and Schofield spoiled a fine centre from Pugh by getting offside.
However, a very simple goal followed. Storer in running out to clear failed to get back again, and T. Hill scored with a feeble kind of shot.
On resuming Liverpool assumed the offensive, and Eccles was kept very busy, the home back showing splendid form. Cunliffe and Walker made attempts which, however, went wide, but hands against Ponsonby gave Liverpool a free kick, and Dunlop placing the ball well into goal Becton assisted it into the net.
This success spurred on the visitors to further efforts, and Becton sent in a couple of grand shots, the second being unintentionally intercepted by Johnston, a certain goal being thus luckily cleared. After another clever run by the same player Stoke got to less dangerous quarters, and a highs hot from Grewer was beautifully fisted away by Storer, the custodian saving finely a few minutes afterwards when a scored appeared imminent. The visitors again got down, and McQue placing to Cunliffe the latter sent over to Walker, who got to the backs, and sent in a brilliant shot, which completely beat Johnston.
Both teams now strove hard for the winning point, Stoke infusing unnecessary vigour into their play. A grand run by Bradshaw ended in the left-winger being fiercely charged by Robertson, and the game was delayed for some minutes, Becton also being brought down at the same time.
Liverpool continued to have the best of matters, until Pugh broke away, and sending right across to Schofield the latter ran to within a few yards of Storer, who picked up the ball and effected a grand save. Another fine run by Bradshaw enabled him to put in a fine centre, and Robertson was totally unable to hold the speedy Liverpudlian in check. Johnston was tested with capital shots from Bradshaw and Marshall, and the Stoke goal had several narrow escapes. Liverpool continued to hold the advantage, but failed to score again.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: September 6, 1897)