December 2, 1912
When pitted against Aston Villa at Anfield the Liverpool team can be depended upon to show its real worth; somehow the visit of the Midlanders acts like a powerful tonic, and the latter have had little cause for jubilation. The game was rendered additionally attractive by reason of the fact that two former favourites who had strayed from the Anfield folk appeared in the habiliments of the opposition, and on a ground that was rendered treacherous by frost the contending elevens provided a most interesting struggle.
There was little to choose between the rivals before the interval, but there could be no questioning the superiority of the home team afterwards. In the last quarter of an hour Liverpool quite overplayed the Villa, and fully deserved the second goal, which was presented to them by an opponent. Fully 20,000 spectators were present, and the receipts from the League fixtures decided at Anfield this season will, if the average be maintained, exceed those of any year since the club was established.
The first half was fought at a great pace, and both goalkeepers were kept busy. Hardy fisted a centre from Goddard over the bar, but the Villa forwards went away, and Hampton overran a perfect centre from Bache. A splendid save by Campbell prevented Stephenson from scoring, and in the next minute Metcalf went clean through the defence, but Hardy came out, and averted disaster. This was only delayed, however, for soon afterwards Ferguson and Miller collaborated, and presented Mackinlay with a chance that was promptly accepted, and Hardy was left helpless.
Chief danger to the Liverpool goal arose from the movements of the Villa left wing, and there was not a goal difference between the rivals during the pre-interval stages. Afterwards, the Villa were handicapped by an injury to Whittaker, which led to a rearrangement of their forces, Halse going to the right half-back’s position, and Wallace taking the inside berth as partner to Whittaker on the front line. Liverpool gradually gained the upper hand, and a centre from Ferguson was diverted by Miles. Over Hardy’s head, into the net, this settling the issue.
Ferguson’s fine footwork.
The Liverpool half-backs were primarily responsible for the victory, and the most effective player of the trio was Ferguson. So successful was he in his interventions that the Villa right-wingers were never allowed to mature their plans. In placing to his forwards Ferguson was excellent; he kept the ball low, and varied his work by placing it to the right whenever a favourable opportunity occurred. Peake was also a thorn in the side of the visitors, tackling finely, and ably supporting the men in front of him. He fell awkwardly just before the interval, and few people were aware that three stitches had been inserted in his elbow before he again came on the field.
Lowe played better than in any previous game this season, and came out of the ordeal with the Villa’s best wing creditably. The forwards were a capable line, and though Miller and Mackinlay started shakily, they improved in the subsequent stages, and finished on a level with the others. Taking the play throughout, the front rank must be accorded credit, and Hardy had many anxious moments.
Liverpool’s defence was exceedingly sound; neither Longworth nor Crawford faltered, and I was pleased to see the left back kick so surely and tackle so cleanly. The returns of the pair were most judicious in length and location.
A comparison: Old and new.
We were afforded the privilege of comparing Campbell with Hardy, and the study was an interesting one. Nothing could have excelled the style in which the former accomplished his work; his position was by no means a sinecure, yet all his clearances were made in a coolly, confident manner that betokened the skilled custodian.
Likewise Hardy gave of his best in the Villa goal. He had no chance of stopping Mackinlay’s shot, and he was unfortunate in having a second point registered against him, for he had come out to clear when Miles did the damage. Hardy is still in the first flight. Lyons and Miles were a steady pair of backs; they achieved their mission without being particularly prominent, but towards the finish the latter had more than he could manage in dealing with the Liverpool right wing.
At half-back Morris was a noticeable figure, especially in checking the advances of his opponents; in giving his own men possession he was not so capable, and his footwork could only rank second in comparison with his zeal. Whittaker was unable to do himself justice owing to his injured side, and Harrop was not the dominant force I expected he would be. In his sedate fashion he combined skilfully with his wings on occasions, but he did not invest us with enthusiasm.
The forwards were a disappointing line, with the left wing bearing off whatever honours there were for distribution. Stephenson was the pick of the five and the unity of purpose between him and Bache was at times in evidence, thereby enabling the latter to flash across some accurate centres. Near goal Stephenson was the most dangerous of the front rank, but Hampton was not the lusty leader we knew. Wallace and Halse were opposed to a resistance that they could never master, and their attack were intermittent.
Liverpool: Kenneth Campbell, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Crawford, Harry Lowe, Ernest Peake, Bob Ferguson, Arthur Goddard, Arthur Metcalf, Jack Parkinson, Tom Miller, Donald Mackinlay.
Aston Villa: Sam Hardy, Bert Lyons, Freddie Miles, Samson Whittaker, William Morris, Jim Harrop, Charlie Wallace, Harold Halse, Harry Hampton, Clem Stephenson, Joe Bache.
Referee: Mr. A. Adams, Nottingham.
(Source: Athletic News: December 2, 1912)