September 9, 1912
A good start is always encouraging, and Liverpool must be credited with having given their faithful followers every reason to feel cheerful, by winning their first two League games at Anfield without surrendering a goal. The great strength of the side was clearly shown in the match with Oldham, while at the same time signs of weakness wee apparent in certain positions. Similarly in the engagement with Woolwich Arsenal the defence was again triumphant whereas the attack was hap-hazard and void of harmonious purpose.
The forwards were inconsistent in their efforts; at times some spirited sprints and cunning centres were forthcoming from Lacey, which should have been turned to more profitable account. Also, on the right wing, were there occasional flashes of creditable combination witnessed, which lent colour to the idea that here was capable material for providing goals. Yet, taking the play throughout, it must be confessed that the general exhibition given by the forwards and half-backs failed to realise the expectations of those who were desirous of seeing these departments blending more successfully than on their first acquaintance.
There was little to choose between the respective forward lines, and the Southerners were unfortunate that they did not score twice. The Liverpool front line was not well led, and seldom did the men move along in that concerted fashion which is so necessary to circumvent a sturdy defence. With the exception of a few isolated instances the forwards were acting more as individual items than as parts of a smooth working combine. In the centre Gracie did not figure too prominently as a leader, nor did he display much skill in keeping his wings moving. It may be his misfortune, but somehow he does not appear able to grip the position thoroughly and assert himself as a dominant force in the front rank. One notable exception there was, and this gave Goddard a goal.
The most creditable footwork came from Goddard and Tosswill, but Lacey accomplished more with the chances he secured than any other member of the line. Miller was responsible for one goal, and at times gave his partner useful assistance, but as a whole the attack was insipid, and required a stimulating tonic.
I was disappointed with the general play of the half-backs. Scott was by no means a success, his tackling and placing being below par. Nor did Ferguson show to advantage in the centre berth. Lowe was the best of the trio, for he kept a closer touch with his forwards than did the others. As a body, they showed a greater disposition to assist in defence rather than playing their forwards with passes. Thus early is it evident where improvement will be necessary t produce an effective and thoroughly capable side.
The Southern forwards were an unconvincing set also. Some of their advances were ably engineered, and much tricky play was witnessed on the left wing. Greenaway had many a prolonged tussle with Pursell, and Common attempted several intricate excursions to the Liverpool goal, but with rare exceptions, all their attempts tapered away to nothing when they neared Campbell’s charge. Twice they were unlucky; the first time the Anfield keeper fell, and the ball driven inwards by Flanagan, passed his hands, but he recovered it, and conceded a corner.
In the second half, Campbell was down again, when out of goal, and though three shots were delivered before he recovered, the backs managed to get in the way and avert disaster. Other opportunities they gained, and McLaughlan headed just over the bar, but there were the exceptions, and the front rank was by no means a dangerous line. The half-backs kept them well employed, and Sands was a sturdy centre, using his weight justly, and proving a zealous forager. Thomson and McKinnon were not particularly prominent, but the latter displayed evidence of ability in his partnership with the left wing pair in front of him.
Still, as on the Liverpool side, there was precious little to enthuse about in the methods of the attackers, and efficiency was not always discernible.
Little fault could be found with any of the defenders. Campbell, as I have already stated, had two narrow escapes of being beaten; otherwise he had an easy time in goal. Pursell and Longworth were in fine trim, the captain being especially noticeable, the more so because the greater strain was thrown on his wing. Both kicked a good length, and were judicious in their returns, but there is need for a better understanding with the half-back divisions.
On the Arsenal side Crawford could not be blamed for the defeat; he saved splendidly from Miller and Lacey, and the shots which beat him were completely out of his reach. Shaw and Peart were a sound pair of full backs; they tackled well and their returns were cleanly executed.
About the goals.
Reference to the goal scoring must necessary be brief. After twenty minutes play Gracie tipped the ball out to Lacey, who returned it, and Miller headed in, the ball bouncing of a defender high into goal. This was the state of affairs at interval, but five minutes later Gracie wept clear away after pouncing on a return from Longworth, and coolly crossed the ball to Goddard, who added the second point.
Then came Liverpool’s marvellous escape. After which, Lacey raced down, for Goddard to score a third goal. A minute later he shot against the woodwork, but there were no further goals, and Liverpool readily won.
Liverpool: Kenneth Campbell, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Pursell, James Scott, Bob Ferguson, Harry Lowe, Arthur Goddard, Jack Tosswill, Tom Gracie, Tom Miller, William Lacey.
Woolwich Arsenal: Sidney Crawford, Joe Shaw, John Peart, Matthew Thomson, Percy Sands, Angus McKinnon, David Greenaway, Alf Common, Joseph McLaughlan, Pat Flanagan, Wee Winship.
(The Athletic News: September 9, 1912)