War time matches

Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers 3-1 (League match: November 18, 1916)


November 18, 1916
Match: Lancashire Section, at Anfield, kick off: 14:45.
Liverpool – Blackburn Rovers 3-1 (3-0).
Attendance: 14,000.
Referee: Mr. W.J. Heath.
Liverpool (2-3-5): James Ashcroft, Ephraim Longworth, Tommy Lucas, John Bamber, Walter Wadsworth, Donald Mackinlay, Joe Donnachie, Arthur Metcalf, Tommy Bennett, Harry Lewis, Tommy Cunliffe.
Blackburn Rovers (2-3-5): Willie McIver, Walter Aitkenhead.
The goals: 1-0 Metcalf (8 min.), 2-0 Metcalf (pen, 40 min.), 3-0 Lewis (42 min.), 3-1 ?.

On Friday night Mr. Bob Middleton wondered whether or not he would have to turn out for Blackburn Rovers. The messages received were not exactly conducive to good temper. First there was one, then another. Crompton was too busy, Latheron and others had been vaccinated and daren’t risk a Liverpool charge, Aithemhead was unwell, &c So the Rovers had to bring forward their junior members.

Liverpool had to do something similar, but not in the heavy degree that Rovers were forced down to. So it came about that Liverpool, from fearing the Rovers’ side, went on the field pretty confident that they could master the Rovers, and thus solidify their League position.

Where Everton failed to “carry on” their 3-1 victories Liverpool stepped in and produced the missing link. Our teams have had no fewer than nine victories of 3-1, and the Anfield team, unbeaten, has three times in succession won by that score. Their victory on Saturday gave a great pleasure to a large crowd. First, the goals were unusual; second, the day was so cold that spectators were glad to get four chances of warming their hands; then there was the view of the new players to the Liverpool ranks; and, finally, there were the referee’s decisions to argue.

Take the last first, as per prophecy – a prophecy I can never prove when the billiards are keen! The referee refused a goal when Ashcroft scooped a ball over his line. A linesman made vigorous efforts to claim a goal, but put down the white flag after a while. Why a linesman having anything to report should trust to the referee seeing his flag-signal I do not know. If he is certain about his point he should cross the field and give his point of view to the referee. Then the referee refused a goal when Bennett, the stocky centre, charged McIver and ball over the goal-line.

Enough of the referee. What of the goals and kicks? Morris, who shaped Chapman-like at centre for Rovers, got a knock and had to retire after giving a most promising show. Our goals were curiously uneven. First, Metcalf – he didn’t seem to be able to “toe” the ball, yet he reached it with outstretched leg and was barely able to direct the ball to goal. Next a penalty offence – a bad trip it was, too, on Bennett – and Metcalf had to take two shies before scoring.

The best goal was the third, for Bennett made a glorious drive, and the rebound from the crossbar let in that oncoming youngster Lewis, who screwed the ball to goal. Orr scored Rovers’ point after Ashcroft had mulled a chance of clearing from the great danger that always threatened when McGhie or Orr got going. It was an overhead kick that led the ball into the untenanted billet. Still Jimmy did well; all told, and the sight of his kickout of a fast shot set many tongues wagging and recalling the days of old, when goalkeepers had to kick out or be charged excessively.

The form of the Liverpool team was nicely balanced, and  Longworth, Lucas, Wadsworth (still coming on and showing traces of Mackinlay’s influence), Mackinlay, and Bennett and Lewis were specially prominent in a side that had not a weak spot, even if Bamber did not shape as well as usual. All did well and deserved the glad hand.
(Liverpool Echo, 20-11-1916)

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