December 25, 1905
Liverpool’s supporters were brimful of confidence on Saturday that the Reds’ successful run would not be broken as the result of the visit from Notts County. This confidence was not misplaced, although the Livers did not show the superiority which might be reasonably expected from a team which has won more games, scored more goals, and proved more successful away than any other team. The Reds played from start to finish as if they always had reserve strength to fall back upon.
Liverpool: Sam Hardy, Alf West, Billy Dunlop, Maurice Parry, Alex Raisbeck, James Bradley, Arthur Goddard, Robert Robinson, Joe Hewitt, Sam Raybould, John Cox.
Notts County: Matt Reilly, Albert Jones, John Montgomery, Teddy Emberton, Harry Mainman, Ben Craythorne, Jerry Dean, Percy Humphreys, Albert Green, Walter Tarplin, Ellis Gee.
The Notts men were in most determined humour, and with Liverpool seldom really extended, the game was of an even and interesting character. Notts commenced well, imbued evidently with the idea that a good beginning is half the battle.
For fully ten men minutes they hammered away in business-like if not brilliant, fashion. Their forward line is by no means a clever string, but it took the Anfield halves some little time to weigh them up and confound their knavish tricks, Tarplin and Dean were early prominent, and ultimately the former was the first of the Lacemen to occupy a dangerous position.
Notts succeeded so well with their forcing tactics that they early on gained a corner. Even then the Anfielders did not advert themselves, and Humphreys put Dunlop in queer-street, which necessitated Hardy dealing with the attack in serious fashion.
After this the Liverpool defence began to scent danger in their indefatigable visitors, and both West and Dunlop did yeoman service.
The Lacemen had shown themselves quite capable of breaking through the Reds’ half-backs, but their ensuing formation was slow and uncertain, and their shooting erratic. West game them little time for consideration, and tackled so vigorously that Hardy was seldom really hard pressed.
Fifteen minutes had passed, and there was still no sign of supremacy on the home side. True enough, they were holding their own better, but their attacks were of a very loose description, and neither Hewitt or his left wing appeared yet to appreciate the fact that Jones was a back of sterling worth, with whom no liberties ought to be taken. The Notts right back is a tall, well-built young fellow, and impressed the spectators very much with his cool tackling, judgment, and clean kicking.
At any rate, during the earlier stages of the game he was very successful in upsetting the Anfielders’ finishing touches.
When Anfield’s front at last got steam up Robinson failed on several occasions, owing chiefly to over-anxiety, and thus got himself into difficulties as well as driving the ball straight on to Reilly, who had all along proved himself far too capable a custodian to be beaten by ordinary shots.
Probably Robinson’s errors were accentuated because he is such a genuine, anxious trier. If he were cooler his footwork might improve, and enable him to retrieve awkward positions. As it is his chief talents are courage, dash, and a fair turn of speed; but he is not so “brainy” as his colleagues, and, consequently, when he does shine, the credit is largely due to himself. So it was on Saturday.
The Anfield attack was developing satisfactorily, and a charming sequence of passing between Goddard, Hewitt, and Raybould looked like piercing the armor of the Notts’ defence. Robinson’s methods did not assist the sequence, and Montgomery broke it up, but Bradley received and trapped the leather.
What followed showed Robinson in his very best light of improving an opportunity. Bradley returned the leather, and Robinson at the second attempt beat Reilly without any assistance. Reilly was absolutely flustered by the tenacity and smartness of the inside right.
The Anfielders tried hard to force another goal before the interval, but County continued to offer the same stubborn defence, as well as making dashing visits to Anfield territory whenever the opportunity could be found.
In the second half the Anfielders showed all-round superiority, and their forward work at times was not only most delightful to witness, but of exceedingly high-class, and most particularly between Cox, Raybould, and Hewitt. Liverpool’s centre forward continues to improve, and evidently possesses in a marked degree all the qualities looked for in the highest exponents of the football art.
Hewitt scored the second goal, but the preliminary finessing of Cox was even more meritorious, and made Emberton look very small beer indeed.
After scoring the second goal Liverpool effected to treat the Midlanders with a certain amount of contempt, and not only entertained the spectators to a lot of fancy work but obviously took gross liabilities as well.
To do the County justice, the Anfielders’ play did not entitle them to any inch license, and the visitors resented the attempting snubbing so vigorously that the home defence was soon forced back to its sober senses.
Notts County is a sound, hardworking team, but with a mediocre attack, if Humphreys be excepted. Reilly is a capital custodian, and Jones a most promising back, and it was mainly owing to the efforts of the couple that the Anfielders did not more frequently net the leather.
There was abundant evidence on Saturday that the Reds are still in the pink of condition.
(Liverpool Daily Post: December 25, 1905)
Robert Robinson, Liverpool F.C. (Athletic News: December 25, 1905).