Liverpool v Oldham Athletic 2-0 (League match)

Saturday, April 1 – 1922
Match: Football League, First Division, Anfield, kick-off: 15:15.
Liverpool – Oldham Athletic 2-0 (1-0).
Attendance: 30,000.
Referee: Mr. H.W. Andrews (Prestwich).
Liverpool (2-3-5): Elisha Scott, Ted Parry, Ephraim Longworth, John Bamber, Walter Wadsworth, Tom Bromilow, Cyril Gilhespy, Dick Forshaw, Harry Chambers, Harry Lewis, Fred Hopkin.
Oldham Athletic (2-3-5): Ted Taylor, Harry Grundy, Reginald Freeman, Alf Marshall, Elliot Pilkington, Bill Taylor, Charlie Wallace, William Wood, Reuben Butler, Jimmy Marshall, Bert Watson.
The goals: 1-0 Chambers (11 min.), 2-0 Gilhespy (51 min.).

Coming champions.
Liverpool wear down Oldham’s defence.
Fifty goals, fifty points.
Liverpool are approaching the goal of their ambition. Let there not be any misapprehension from the simple. This is not the finest goal that ever was seen, but the championship of The League for this season. If any other club has designs upon the premier position the hope seems all vanity. And from what I have seen of the Anfield combination they are worthy of the honour because of their team spirit, their unity, and that strength which comes from the great essential of all football – skilful fellowship.

Liverpool are a better balanced side than they look, because they rely on intelligent combination rather than on theatrical displays. Oldham Athletic gave the leaders of The League a sound, hard, and honest game for the points at issue. But Liverpool, without Tommy Lucas, Donald Mackinlay, Jock McNab, and William Lacey, won quite cleverly. Maybe Oldham had not all the luck they wished for, but apart from the fickle Archduchess of Fortune, Liverpool were he more accomplished and the more convincing, and finished in their work. It was in finishing that Liverpool proved their superiority.

Oldham Athletic played so well, especially in the first half, that I could not help wondering how it is that they are floundering in the danger zone. They had by far the better of the argument prior to the interval, but as they could not get the ball into the net all their effort was as water unto wine, as moonlight unto sunshine. Hey could not beat Elisha Scott, and it require a shot far above the obvious and the commonplace to circumvent his son of Erin.

The one thing that counted.
Oldham Athletic lost no time in attacking. They began with rare thrustfulness, and they maintained the aggressive for 45 minutes – in proof of which I may tell the reader that Scott handled the ball 15 times prior to the interval. There was a bleak atmosphere, but Liverpool’s goalkeeper had no time to blow on his fingers or do sentry duty between the posts to keep his circulation intact. Oldham never allowed him to grow cold. This was good for Oldham – but not quite good enough.

Butler got one fine through pass, and advancing alone, seemed certain to score. He delivered a swift, high shot which might have beaten any man, but Scott jumped, got both hands to the ball, hit it in the air, caught it on descent, and hurled it away; glorious for Liverpool.

After Chambers and Hopkin had opened out the game and tested Taylor, the custodian, Butler went back again and, dribbling right up to goal, tried a screw shot. Again Scott was a barrier.

At the end of 11 minutes Liverpool took the lead. Wadsworth passed to Bromilow, and he to Lewis, who transferred to Hopkin. The outside left thrust the ball across goal, and it seemed as if Forshaw would score, but he was covered and his effort cannoned off an Oldham player back to Chambers, who lifted the ball over the head of Taylor into the net – a fine goal, because so exactly placed.

That was the one thing that counted with all the striving, for although Chambers and Forshaw tried to take Edward Taylor by surprise with rare drives, and the Athletic often got the better of the Liverpool half-backs, the defenders prevailed.

The fate of Oldham Athletic was sealed six minutes after crossing over, for Chambers passed to Gilhespy, who astounded the multitude by cutting inwards to the position of inside right and threading his way between three, if not four opponents. This was a fine individual dribble, in which the ex-Sunderland youth beat man after man, until he arrived near the goal area. Then he tapped the ball to Chambers, a yard or two off his left, and the centre neatly turned it back to Gilhespy, who crowned his sinuous piloting by a side-foot glide which left Taylor in a hopeless plight.

As this was his first League match for Liverpool at home – he played recently at Blackburn on his twenty-first birthday – the spectators cheered the lad to the echo for a goal, the like of which used to be seen 40 years ago, when individual dribbles were all the rage.

After that Taylor had to save his charge thrice in quick succession – and once very cleverly from Hopkin, while a drive by Lewis brought away a white label from the woodwork. Forshaw, too, was responsible for a fine flick when on the half-turn, and Taylor turned the shot over the bar.

Again Taylor managed to divert round the post with his right foot a nasty little ground shot from Lewis that would have sneaked into the net. The corners, were “killed,” and Scott at the other extremity had to handle drives from Butler and J.H. Marshall. Again Gilhespy dribbled near to goal, but this time Taylor caught the ball, and so the game ended.

No fuss; no fury.
When the possibilities of one team biding for the championship and of the other fighting for life are taken into consideration, this was a fine, open, thrilling and clean game. Not until within five minutes of the finish was a trainer called on to the field, and the Taylor, the goalkeeper, hurt himself in rushing out and jumping for the ball. The match was earnest enough, but the players had smiling faces – due, no doubt, to the suave but firm handling of a thoroughly efficient referee. Footballers are close observers, and appreciate an official who blends sense and sympathy. It was a pleasant game, savouring a little of spring, and distinguished by the good work of each team.

Brilliance of Hopkin and Bromilow.
Elisha Scott foiled Oldham, and as goalkeeper he stands in class by himself, with his uncanny perception and a swiftness of movement that can only be seen in a group of caged monkeys; no offence. But a monkey is quick. Is there not a legend of one of the world’s ancient heroes of the prize ring developing his lightning delivery by boxing with a monkey? I wonder.

In front of him was a rare warehouse in Longworth, who was shrewd, skilful, and tenacious, with many a word in season when te Athletic were pressing. Never yet have I seen Parry on the losing side – in two internationals and this club game. Not faultless in either his position play or in returning, but Parry is now quite a useful defender, and will be better.

Bamber was rather outpaced and Wadsworth somewhat wild in placing, but both were hard workers. Every time I see Bromilow I find something fresh to admire. This young man is a pure ball player of the first rank. No opponent can divine where he will put the ball; but depend upon it he will place to advantage, for he is always calculating, and has so much cunning in his ten toes that he makes the game easy for his mates by scheming.

Among the forwards none shone with the radiance of Hopkin, who was consistently, clever, and let attack after attack. His resource to beat a man, and his centres, dragged across with sure foot, were alike admirable. With the support of Bromilow and ever-willing Lewis, playing jackal to the lion, Hopkin ought to play. He dogs, and he never had such support in his former club. Chambers played a thoughtful centre-forward game. He did not get much help from the half-back immediately behind him, but he distributed the ball with discreet passes, and he shot whenever he could. He snaps up a chance, and is quite a serviceable centre, but I prefer him at inside left. Occasionally Forshaw was dangerous with the unexpected bolt from the blue, but he was of little use to Gilhespy, who was rarely given a suitable and accurate pass in the first half. He had a little more attention afterwards, but Forshaw was not in his happiest vein.

Under the circumstances Gilhespy suffered, but there is latent ability in this youth, secured from Sunderland for £250. But I have seen some £4,000 outside rights – and in a year or two this £250 North-country man will make some people open wide their eyes, always provided he keeps a level head. There is football in him.

Oldham’s strength and weakness.
Oldham Athletic believe that they have been victims of much misfortune during this season. Their record of being beaten so often by the odd goal confirms their view. Their defence is excellent. Everyone knows the capacity of Edward Taylor, who has been a first-class goalkeeper for years. And his hands have retained their power.

Freeman was rather too much for Gilhespy to master. He is an admirable back, and could have played for Liverpool too. His kicking was true and generally placed. Grundy did fairly well, but he could not keep Hopkin in check. He is not the only back with the experience.

W.Taylor and A. Marshall were plodders who had no lack of stamina and earnestness, but the half-back who took my eye was Elliott Pilkington, who has the gift of gathering the ball and bestowing it to his own forwards – either inside or outside men. Pilkington is a fine prompter and would be better still if he had a little less to do.

The wing forwards – both Watson and Wallace – representing the old and the new, were quite good. Watson is very speedy and did not take the ball to the corner flag so religiously as when I saw him at Bolton during the New Year. He is a discovery. Wallace has preserved much of his power over the ball in making centres.

Of the three inside men Butler, who began in such a menacing manner, did not keep up the standard, but he is rather useful. J.H. Marshall did a lot of purveying for Watson. Wood, of Mansfield Town, is an inside right of promise. But here is the weakness of Oldham Athletic – they lack inside forwards who can deliver a good shot. Butler was the only one of the three who had the quality. Goals are necessary for success.
(The Athletic News, 03-04-1922)


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