Liverpool head the League table


December 18, 1905
The Liverpool club continues its triumphant career unchecked, and now occupies the proud position of League leaders. By beating Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Saturday the Anfielders supplemented a really magnificent sequence of victories. This will be at once apparent when it is state that they have secured seventeen points out of a possible eighteen in the last nine matches played, and that they clubs they have defeated on foreign soil include Manchester City, Newcastle United, and Middlesbrough. This is a record of which any football organisation may well feel proud, and it is particularly gratifying in view of the disastrous start which the club made upon re-entering first class company.

There is no mistake about it that the team at the present time, and on its present form, is absolutely one of the strongest in the kingdom. Their prospective holiday engagements are not nearly so heavy as those through which they have just passed, and it is difficult to see how they are to be removed for some time, at least, from the top of the League table.

The game on Saturday was thoroughly well contested, and was in the main a capital exposition of the code. The slippery nature of the ground – Bramall Lane, by the way, rarely is greasy – was all against a fast game, yet there were times when the pace was particularly warm, and some of the footwork was remarkably clever. So far as the first half is concerned, there was very little to choose between either team, and both were fully entitled to the goal with which they had credited themselves.

Sheffield United: Joe Lievesley, Thomas Stewart, Bob Benson, Charles Johnson, Billy Wilkinson, Ernest Needham, Edgar Bluff, Jimmy Donnelly, Arthur Brown, Alonzo Drake, Bert Lipsham.
Liverpool: Sam Hardy; Alf West, Billy Dunlop; Maurice Parry, Alex Raisbeck, James Bradley: Arthur Goddard, Robert Robinson, Joe Hewitt, Sam Raybould, John Cox.

Liverpool were the first to score, the point coming as the result of a corner, capitally placed by Goddard, and rather luckily converted by a long pot-shot on the part of Parry. The United lost very little time in retaliating, and their equalising effort was due to a really magnificent piece of work by Drake. Gaining possession near the centre line, he soon showed Raisbeck a clean pair of heels, and, racing between the backs he steadied himself and netted the leather just out of Hardy’s reach.

After this the pace was quicker than ever and both sides came within an ace of scoring again, but the defence was thoroughly sound, and when the interval came the pegging was level.

It was in the second portion of the game that the Anfielders demonstrated their superiority. They went off at a tremendous bat, and both the outside men put in a number of fine centres, any one of which might with a bit of luck, have been turned to account.

They were pressing hotly when a free kick brought them right in front of the home custodian, and for fully a minute the ball was kept bobbing about in the air, to be finally bustled through by Cox and Robinson between them.

As matters eventuated, this proved the winning goal, for although the Sheffielders put forth strenuous efforts to avert defeat. Fortune was evidently against them. Towards the finish they made at least three most determined onslaughts upon Hardy’s charge, and it was only the ability and coolness of the Chesterfield youth that saved the situation.

Here let it be stated that Hardy once again showed, that he is a goalkeeper of real ability, and the Anfielders may count themselves fortunate in possessing such a successor to Ned Doig, whose feats in the football arena are matters of history.

Dunlop was the better of the two backs, his clearances being well timed and vigorous, but if West was at times a little shaky it was probably on account of the nasty kick he received early in the game. The half backs were steady and serviceable, as usual, and though Raisbeck was several times fairly outstripped, he nevertheless showed excellent form.

Coming to the forwards, one has no hesitation in awarding the palm to Cox and Goddard. Both outside men, for once in a way, were seen at their best, and it was due to no faults on theirs that the score against the United was not considerably greater. Cox’s centres were exceedingly fine, and if Hewitt had only been in a happier vein the net must certainly have been pierced more than twice. The centre forward was undoubtedly out of luck, which was rather a pity in view of his recent goal getting propensities.

Raybould, it must be confessed, was distinctly disappointing, for at least on two occasions when he had an open goal before him he preferred to shoot tamely into the keeper’s arms. Robinson apparently thought he had one of his roving commissions, the result being that he was rarely in his place when wanted, and this had the effort of neutralising many of the most approved combined movements.

Although beaten, Sheffield United played a really good game, and it is quite a matter for debate whether their forwards were not superior – all things considered – to whose of their opponents. Certainly no one need wish to see a finer individual display that of Lipsham, while on the other wing Donnelly put in a great amount of dashing and useful work.

The half-backs, despite occasional flashes by Needham, appeared to be rather over-weighted, and the backs were often in trouble. Altogether, it was a thoroughly well-merited victory for the Anfielders.
(Liverpool Daily Post: December 18, 1905)

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