September 4, 1899
Liverpool opened their season by visiting Stoke, 10,000 spectators witnessing the encounter. With the exception of Higginson, who took the centre position, and Wilkes, Stoke played last year’s team. Liverpool, owing to injuries, had to substitute Hunter for John Walker and Stevenson for Archie Goldie, the respective teams being as follows: –
Liverpool: Bill Perkins, General Stevenson, Billy Dunlop, Rab Howell, Alex Raisbeck, William Goldie, John Cox, John “Sailor” Hunter, Peter Kyle, Hugh Morgan, Tom Robertson.
Stoke: Theodore Wilkes, Tom J. Robertson, Jack Eccles, Teddy Parsons, Alf Wood, James Bradley, Fred Johnson, Jack Kennedy, Sam Higginson, Willie Maxwell, Joe Turner.
Liverpool won the toss, and after an incursion by the right wing, which was just pulled up in time by Bradley, Morgan received, and Eccles had to concede a corner to evert disaster from the shot. Although Stoke broke away, Stevenson repelled them, and Liverpool made a strong attack, Eccles heading away a warm shot from Robertson.
The visiting forwards, ably led by Kyle, carried play to the home goal, and Wilkes ran out to clear from Hunter, whilst Kyle with an excellent attempt again brought out the abilities of the ex-Villan. A complete change now ensued, for the home forwards raced away, and Dunlop had to concede a corner to gain relief. From the corner-kick, the Liverpool goal, was bombarded with shots, but Perkins and his backs prevailed, and the ball was at length got away.
After some exchanges in midfield, a sudden dash by the Liverpool left wing ended in Robertson sending in a swift low shot, which skimmed the upright, but a few minutes later the same player got in a centre, which Hunter headed into the net, although Wilkes threw away, the goal was allowed. In five minutes Stoke were equal, for, the home van breaking away, Maxwell took aim from long range, and beat Perkins all the way with a splendid shot.
A drenching rain now started, and though both ends were rapidly visited, nothing further was done up to the interval, when the score was one goal each.
On resuming on the slippery turf, Liverpool were quickly a goal ahead for the second time in the match, for, from a free kick, Stevenson and Raisbeck outwitted the defence, the latter receiving the ball and driving into the net before the home backs were aware of the movement. This was followed by another attack on the part of Maxwell and Turner, and Kennedy again beat Perkins, thus equalising the scores.
Repeated attacks were made by the visitors who were, however, feeble in front, though Robertson tested Wilkes on two occasions with tremendous drives.
After some exchanges in the Liverpool half, Hunter outdistanced all his opponents, but failed to defeat Wilkes, who cleared finely, and a moment later, with a grand low shot, almost gave his side the lead. Subsequently Stoke scored again, five minutes from time, Maxwell defeating Perkins with a capital shot, and the final result was: Stoke 3 goals, Liverpool 2 goals.
(Liverpool Mercury: September 4, 1899)