December 22, 1913
How often do we see a team sturdily withstand prolonged pressure by opponents who seem every instant to be on the point of scoring, and then suddenly sweep away to the attack themselves and by a surprise goal snatch the victory!
So it was with Liverpool at Bramall Lane on Saturday. The visitors had enjoyed a fair share of some smart football during a goalless first half. By great defence they thwarted rush after rush of Sheffield United’s dashing forwards in the second half, and then twelve minutes from the end of the game, in the gathering gloom of a misty afternoon they seized a golden opportunity to burst through the lines of their foes and score a fine goal, which gave them two very valuable points.
Perhaps under such circumstances Sheffield United may be regarded as unlucky to lose, but when we consider that they could not beat their opponents’ goalkeeper, although they were awarded a penalty, whilst the visitors smartly seized one of their chances to score, praise belongs chiefly to Liverpool for what they actually achieved. Certainly it was a good performance on their part to win, even by an odd goal, for United had not lost a point on their own ground since their neighbours, the Wednesday, beat them two months ago.
With an idea of strengthening their attack, the United directorate reinstated Evans, the old international, on the extreme left, and it was only Campbell’s smartness that prevented him rushing a goal at the beginning of the game, but he was not the Evans of old.
We saw some very clever football in the open during the first half of the game. The Liverpool forwards especially excelled in combination, Sheldon and Gracie being prominent, but they finished weakly, and the best shot which Gough had to deal with was a long one from Ferguson, the left half-back. The United forwards were equally as smart as the visitors, and they finished their attack better, and when Evans had swung the ball across it was only a great save by Campbell which prevented Simmons scoring with a swift drive.
The Liverpool goalkeeper also earned the thanks of his side when he stopped a penalty shot, given against Pursell for handling, but Kitchen, who took it, drove the ball almost straight at him.
The second half was mainly a tussle between the United attack and the Liverpool defence. The former played with great dash, and the latter with steadiness, strength, and admirable resource. Utley, Hawley and Brelsford helped the Sheffield forwards greatly, and twice Hawley essayed to score himself, only to find Campbell unbeatable. The visitors goalkeeper also saved skilfully from Fazackerley, than whom none of the Sheffield front line played better.
The surprise goal.
Despite the soundness of Longworth and Pursell United’s pressure was so persistent that a goal for the Sheffielders seemed only a matter of time, when, hey presto, away swept Sheldon on the Lancastrians’ right and swung the ball into the middle for Gracie to give a dainty pass to Miller, who made the most of a great chance by driving the ball swiftly out of Gough’s reach into the net. Such was the goal that gave Liverpool the victory.
What might otherwise have been a great game suffered from the faulty work of the two seats of forward near goal. United went in for too much elaboration, and Liverpool missed fine chances by wild shooting. Of the visitors, front rank, Sheldon, despite the strength of the opposition set up by Utley, made some speedy runs and good centres, and was the pick of the line.
Liverpool’s half-back line was strong, Lowe obtaining the mastery over Kitchen and allowing the home centre to make none of his electric flashes. Ferguson also played very well.
A feature of the game was the splendid play of both pairs of backs. Longworth and Pursell were equally as good as Cook and English, and they had more work to do. Of United’s half-backs Utley was decidedly the pick, but all played well. As a line the Sheffield forwards were disappointing, though they all worked with earnestness. Evans was no more to blame than any other. Indeed, he started well, and later on had few chances.
Sheffield United: Harold Gough, Bill Cook, Jack English, Bill Brelsford, Frederick Hawley, George Utley, Jim Simmons, Billy Gillespie, Joe Kitchen, Stan Fazackerley, Robert Evans.
Liverpool: Kenneth Campbell, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Pursell, Thomas Fairfoull, Harry Lowe, Bob Ferguson, Jack Sheldon, William Lacey, Tom Gracie, Tom Miller, Donald Mackinlay.
Referee: Mr. J.F. Pearson.
(Athletic News: December 22, 1913, by ‘Nemo’)
Harold Gough, Sheffield United F.C.