Anfield Happenings (February 8, 1908)

February 8, 1908
Liverpool only draw.
It would be wrong to say that the Reds achieved the unexpected by drawing with Brighton and Hove. They never do that; for only the very optimistic spectators ever expect anything. The majority of those who wend their way to Anfield are prepared for anything from a 5-0 victory over Aston Villa to a 5-1 defeat by Newcastle United. It is true that few though Brighton and Hove would beat them, and they did not. But it was a near thing – a desperately near thing. The gate was a great one, and the officials of the two teams would rejoice as they counted up the wealth – with more to follow.

Alex Raisbeck wins the toss.
It was a right and proper thing for the home captain to do, for by it he gained a slight advantage with the wind, and he set Brighton to face the bright sun. And Liverpool should have won the game in the first twenty minutes. The forwards, backed up by excellent halves, showed pretty footwork until they reached the firing line. But when there first one and then another declined to shoot, and they tapped the ball from one to another as if it were necessary for every forward to touch it before a legitimate score could be registered.

We were resigned to the inevitable, Liverpool were in one of their hesitating moods, and one felt that unless a change speedily came over them the First Leaguers would not win. The first serious attack by Brighton did not develop until after twenty-five minutes had sped. But when it did come it was very warm. Four corners were obtained in succession, and for a few minutes it appeared as if the Liverpool defence – all save Sam Hardy – were suffering from nerves. It is asserted that twice the ball was deliberately handled in the penalty area, but the referee declined to allow the claims.

However, the ball was got away, and Liverpool again attacked without purpose. Just when it seemed likely that the teams would cross over without scoring, a penalty was given against Maurice Parry. The why or the wherefore of his handling the ball will ever remain a mystery. There was no necessity for it. He was unhampered, but the fact remains that he did unmistakably pat the ball down, and that little pat cost Liverpool a goal, and probably a journey away down South.

A hard second half.
The second half was opened with Liverpool over anxious, and this was palpable throughout. The Reds had chance after chance of equalising, but this they seemed fated not to do. An open goal was of no use to the Liverpool inside men, and despair began to be writ deeply on the face of the home spectators when John Cox, after a corner had been taken, put the ball into the net an equalised.

Rarely has a goal been so rapturously received, and the pent up feelings of the crowd were relieved by salvos of cheers. But far from spurring the Reds on to further deeds, the point had no effect, and chance after chance was thrown away by the forwards.

Just before the end a spurt was made by Brighton, and a corner forced. The ball was well placed by Walter Anthony, but Hardy knocked away. The ball struck one of the Liverpool men, and came back to Hardy, who hesitated and then scrambled it round the post. Brighton claimed vainly a goal. The referee was inexorable, and he was backed up in his decision by both linesmen.

I doubt if any of the onlookers could tell what really happened, it was all done so quickly. Many argued for and against the decision of the referee, and I think he was correct, as I was remarkably well placed to see the whole incident. The officials were looking out for such things, and were probably the coolest men on the ground.

Taking all things into consideration, I would rather trust their judgment than the whole of the spectators and players. Thus Liverpool have to travel Brightonwards.

But taking the team all round, Liverpool should have made rings round. Liverpool’s incapacity and not Brighton’s ability is the cause of a replay.

Liverpool make rings.
As I anticipated Liverpool won at Brighton, and that fairly easy. Indeed at no time during the game did they look like being beaten. Two changes were made from the side which performed at Anfield, three if the transfer of Joe Hewitt to centre forward is taken into account. Sam Bowyer made his debut with the first team this season, and Robert Robinson was re-introduced at inside right Whether these changes worked for the better I cannot say, as I did not see the game, but I am of the opinion that even had the Livers played the same team they would not have been beaten. No team could surely have made so many misses on two consecutive occasions, and Brighton would never again be given the same opportunities of beating the First Leaguers.

Arthur Goddard was the outstanding figure in the attack of Saturday, for John Cox did not get too many chances until the game was well advanced. There is one rather disquieting feature in the result; two of the goals were scored by James Bradley from half-back. I would like to have seen the Liverpool inside forwards doing their own work, and although a goal from a half-back is very welcome, it is not convincing when half the goals scored in Cup Ties are from that source.

Alf West seems to have profited by his rest, for he followed up Saturday’s excellence with another brilliant display, and, well as Percy Saul played his partner did better. The halves must have done well, for they not only stopped Brighton, but gave their own towards scope. The Southerners were outclasses.

And now for Newcastle. Liverpool are neither dismayed nor disheartened by the luck of the draw. They have a little something to wipe of the slate, and I believe they are just the boys to do it.
(Joint Everton and Liverpool Match Programme: February 8, 1908)


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