November 28, 1908
Liverpool’s hard fight.
Although defeat was Liverpool’s lot at Middlesbrough, I would hasten to compliment the team upon showing a most encouraging improvement in form all round. When one looks at the galaxy of talent included in the present day Tee-side eleven, one is surprised that they do not take a higher place on the League chart. With a backbone of half a dozen internationalists they should really do better, for the ability is undoubtedly there.
And yet, prior to Saturday this selfsame Middlesbrough club had put in a run of eleven League matches since the first week of the season and had only been able to claim a single victory in the long series. Small wonder, then, that they were seen in a hungry mood when brought face to face with Liverpool.
In cold type a 1-0 win, either way, somehow doesn’t suggest exciting football, but let it at once be said that the match in question was a very fine and thrilling one – the best of the season at Ayresome Park, and, as I hear from one Tee-side writer, one scarcely likely to be beaten the season through.
The strenuous character of the game may be shown in mentioning that it produced no fewer than 24 corners, despite the fact that the back play on both sides was really fine. The scene of operations alternated in a mazing way, that kept the audience on the “work.”
This is as it should be.
Although the first half was drawn blank both sides went very close to scoring, no effort being more so that one beautiful long drive which Percy Saul sent in. It seemed to read “goal” all the way, but Tim Williamson, for some reason (known only to himself, of course) thought fit to disallow the point – a very bad decision, though Saul and Co.
Edward Verrill also dropped from the clouds, as it were, to save an otherwise certain goal by Robert Robinson. However, it was fifteen minutes from the end when Steve Bloomer – whose First Division career dates back as far as that of the Liverpool club (season 1894-5) – shot twice with great power to see the ball returned. Then the third time paid for all, a terrific ball entering the net beyond Sam Hardy, the remarkable Stephen this notching his first goal towards his second “250”!
Liverpool then put up a fierce fight indeed until the end, but without tangible reward. As already stated, the Reds’ display gave solid ground for encouragement. There was a dash and determination about the team which augurs well for the future, provided there is no slackening off once again.
Of course there were faults and weaknesses; otherwise goals would have come. The defects were practically confined to the attack, however. The absence of Ronald Orr has proved a severe handicap, for to a very large extent he had been the brains of the attack in the season’s earlier matches – aye, and the goal-getter, too. He made play and he showed himself an adept at completing an attacking movement. These are the telling factors in present day football, as ever.
As a substitute Joe Hewitt has framed well in his original position, but one has scarcely been enamoured of John Cox this season, for his former great asset – pace – has, one regret to say, been a diminishing quantity. There is need for reform here in some shape.
I was pleased to learn that Jack Parkinson showed a marked advance in form. This player’s case is a puzzling one to comment upon. There is no more genuine trier the country o’er; in fact, his excess of zeal is most often his undoing, and were he a bit more consistent I should say the directors would be delighted to regularly accommodate him with a League team position.
Robert Robinson worked hard in his usual manner, and Arthur Goddard was a trifle in advance of the Goddard of recent precedings weeks.
The defence to a man behaved admirably. Tom Chorlton and Jim Harrop (two more promising young bloods) played splendidly, whilst Percy Saul evinced a welcome return to power. Indeed, Liverpool’s one genuine regret may be said to have been the loss of the two points.
(Cricket and Football Field: November 28, 1908; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
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