April 7, 1913
Aston Villa started upon the present season with high hopes, and seriously set themselves the task of winning the FA Cup and the League Championship. And if they had kept their original half-back line they might have done it, too. As the position is, they have made a gallant fight for both honours, but they came a heavy fall on their own ground on Saturday, when Liverpool beat them, and beat them fairly and squarely, by three goals to one.
There is no excuse for the defeat of the Villa, taking the teams as they opposed each other in this contest, for Liverpool were unquestionably the cleverer and better-balanced side. They played better football in all respects. But it must not be forgotten that Aston Villa had anything but a representative eleven. Sam Hardy was away holding the fort on England’s behalf at Stamford Bridge, Harry Hampton was acting as England’s leader, and Charlie Wallace, who should have been England’s outside right, but had to stand down owing to the death of his father, was still lost to Aston Villa.
The penalty of poor reserves.
Now, Aston Villa used to have the finest reserve team in the whole kingdom – unquestionably this was so – but today they have the poorest reserve eleven I ever remember to have seen in their colours. Aston Villa may think this a matter of much or little moment, but I consider it a matter of vert grave importance. At any rate, it lost them this match with Liverpool, and losing the match practically puts the Villa out of court so far as the League Championship is concerned. I know it does not finally dispose of them, but practically it does. It is not easy to imagine them reaching Sheffield Wednesday now, while Sunderland have quite as good a record as the Wednesday.
No, the result of this game was a heavy blow to Villa. They may win the Cup; I sincerely hope they will. But I do not think the Villa will secure the honours in the League. They lost this match to my mind, through not having high-class reserves. It was evident to everyone who looked on that neither McLachlan nor Doncaster is yet ripe for First Division football.
They are not the men to help the Villa in a critical match, and this was a critical match. If the Villa could have put in some of the reserves they possessed three or four years ago they might had a great chance of winning. The situation points its moral, and I hope Aston Villa will pay a little more heed to their reserves next season. Even admitting the calls made upon them by the seniors, it is startling to see Aston Villa Reserves well in the lower half of the Birmingham League list.
Liverpool’s clever football.
Liverpool had a strong side, and they played a strong game. Their forward work in the opening stages was very striking. I have seen nothing more purposeful than their passing this season. Everything was effective, methodic, and telling. They did not keep this form up throughout the game, but heir forward play was always dangerous. The way they ran through the Villa defence in the first twenty minutes was very clever indeed. I liked the manner in which they kept the ball down when playing with the wind. That is not easy. I have seen many teams profit little from this supposed ally, but Liverpool drove the ball along at the proper height, every centre went clean across the Villa goal, and the men were able to use their feet instead of their heads. And that is always an advantage.
Goddard scored a fine goal within three minutes of the start, and when the game was seventeen minutes old Lacey got in a good centre and Parkinson netted with the utmost ease. It was quite an object-lesson in the art of goalgetting to see Parkinson quietly touch the ball into the net, instead of shooting madly straight at the custodian. Parkinson, however, retains much of his great ability as a forward leader. It was late in the game before there was any more scoring. Three minutes from the end Metcalf scored from a pass by Parkinson, and in the closing minute Doncaster got through for the Villa. Thus Liverpool won and everyone was forced to admire their winning methods; everyone was constrained to admit that they well deserved to triumph.
The Villa’s missed men.
Parkinson, Goddard, and Metcalf did excellent work for the winners, and Parkinson was dogged and keen throughout, and would not be shaken off the ball. The half-backs were lame, Peake being the best worker, while Longworth was he ablest back on the field, though Pursell’s methods were not to be cavilled at.
The Villa missed Hampton and Wallace badly; Bache and Stephenson did their best, but there was no cohesion among the forward line. Harrop was good, if a trifle below his best form, but Barber was unsound in his methods. He may be a born dribbler, but his opponents seems to profit on his dribbling more than his own side. The backs were all right, and Anstey kept goal coolly; indeed, he showed admirable nerve.
After the interval the Villa played Whittaker on the right wing and McLachlan at half-back. They did better with this formation, but never looked like winning. The game attracted about 23,000 spectators.
Aston Villa: Brendel Anstey, Bert Lyons, Tommy Weston, Tommy Barber, Jim Harrop, Samson Whittaker, John McLachlan, Harold Halse, Stuart Doncaster, Clem Stephenson, Joe Bache.
Liverpool: Kenneth Campbell, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Pursell, Jack Tosswill, Ernest Peake, Bob Ferguson, Arthur Goddard, Arthur Metcalf, Jack Parkinson, Tom Gracie, William Lacey.
Referee: Mr. A. Adams, Nottingham.
(Source: Athletic News: April 7, 1913)