Monday, October 9 – 1899
Whatever other failings may be placed to the account of the present Liverpool team, they cannot be charged with inconsistency, for they continune to lose match after match, whether at home or abroad, with surprising regularity.
Last season they gained renown by their remarkable sequence of victories; they now startle their supporters, and everybody else, by their orderly array of defeats.
In spite of their previous reverses, there were few who thought that they would have to lower their colours at home to Derby County, and though they did not deserve to lose on the play, their performance scarcely warranted victory.
Up to a certain point they gave a superior exhibition to that of their opponents, but in one important particular they failed lamentably, and to this alone must their defeat be attributed.
The weakness of the forward rank in front of goal was the sole cause of Liverpool’s latest disaster.
They commenced the match in really good style, and in a couple of minutes Cox had given the inside men a chance of scoring which was so simple that it is difficult to understand how they failed to utilise it.
This, however, was but the forerunner of what was to be noticed throughout the game, and no matter how cleverly the ball was worked down, or how often, there was bound to be someone blundering at the finish, even when the chance of scoring was ridiculously easy.
Three-fourths of the game was contested in the Derby quarters, but never a goal was obtained, nor was the ball even placed in the net illegally, and the impression produced by the form shown when in the vicinity of Fryer was that even had the game been generously prolonged for a week, the Liverpool forwards would never have scored.
Their midfield form was flattering enough to arouse the foolish notion that they might score at any moment; and when at the close of some creditable movement, during which anticipations were sent up to the highest pitch, some more than usually puerile attempt to score was made, and the crowd, which longed to cheer the first goal, had to subside into a gradually deepening abyss of sarcastic allusions.
As the game progressed their weakness became more manifest, but towards the close they showed a little determination, and fairly bombareded the Derby goal.
But when a team is down on its luck, everything seems to proceed awry, no matter how strenuously it endeavours, and to get the ball into the net was impossible.
Having discovered this, Derby took matters into their own hands at the finish, and might have added to their lead had not Perkins shown grand form, when his backs had been left in the lurch.
The victory of the visitors was a lucky one in some respects, but their defence was so sound that they deserve some little credit for their victory. Not only that, but, whilst the home forwards were struggling helplessly in front of goal, the visitors, who only got away at intervals, made the most of their chances, and, though an occasional burst was all they could manage throughout the game, they put on a couple of goals.
Nothing but a paradoxial statement can properly describe Liverpool’s case, for they were good and bad at almost the same time.
Some capital work was done by Cox, and the other forwards up to a certain point did not shape at all badly.
There is one thing evident, however – that Raisbeck is of no use in the centre. The halves were satisfactory, and generally speaking the backs defended well, but the sterling defence of last year would not have permitted either of the two goals scored by Derby to be secured, particularly the second one, though in neither case could the least blame be attached to Perkins. He kept goal splendidly, and stopped the best shot of the afternoon, a fast unexpected screw from Arkesden, from close quarters, at the Anfield-road goal, in fine style, which had he failed to negotiate he could scarcely have been deemed culpable.
If the same satisfaction could be obtained in every department of the team Liverpool might face the future with confidence.
(Liverpool Mercury, 09-10-1899)