February 5, 1923
A hopeless task
It is a truism that class will tell, and it was well illustrated at the Molineux Grounds, where Liverpool overcame Wolverhampton Wanderers by two clear goals.
There was one period of the contest when the Wanderers appeared to have a possible chance of saving the game. This was in the opening stage of the second half, when dashing play by the forwards won a trio of corner kicks from the Liverpool defenders, but there they finished.
It was a solo movement by Johnson which brought the first goal after twenty-four minutes’ play. Liverpool’s centre forward was in possession just outside the penalty line, but Gregory and Marshall stood between him and George. Johnson deftly slipped past Gregory and evaded a dash by Marshall. He then found himself within two yards of the Wanderers’ custodian, and, steadying himself, he placed the ball outside the reach of George, who vainly hurled himself to the ground in an attempt to save the situation.
Liverpool’s second goal came after 57 minutes’ play, and the movement which led to the success was the outcome of dainty work by Lacey on the fringe of the touch line. He outwitted two home defenders and then gave a ground pass to Forshaw. The inside right took a survey of the position, and in the coolest possible manner, put the ball through a gap which he espied at such an angle that George was left quite helpless to prevent a score.
With the game now secure, the visiting forwards indulged in tactics which must have been to the Wanderers’ defenders somewhat aggravating. The Anfield attackers passed and repassed the ball with dazzling accuracy and consummate ease. Gregory, Marshall, and the half-backs strove resolutely, but were unable to remove the ball far from the zone of danger.
Virility and variety.
And now as to the run of the play. Straight from the kick-off Liverpool attacked, and Johnson shot only inches wide of the mark. The Wanderers had a brief turn, and then Liverpool gave an exhibition of clever and forceful attack which culminated in Chambers gaining a favourable position. The Liverpool inside left showed nice command of the ball, and he swept past the home backs in hurricane style, but an almost audible sigh of relief came from the Wanderers’ partisans as they watched the ball pass a few inches wide of the post.
The League Champions did not pin their faith to any one mode of attack. Sometime their raids were carried down the centre; at other times long diagonal passes would set either Lacey or Hopkin on the move. There was one method which was always utilised, and that was to take sudden and swift shots at George’s charge.
Chambers executed another brilliant dribble, and his shot hit the crossbar with such violence that it quivered from end to end. The same player had another unsuccessful try, and then Mackinlay was brought to the front to take a free kick a yard or two outside the penalty area.
The Wanderers’ deserved some little sympathy when Liverpool’s first goal accrued. Hodnett’s pants were split from waist to knee, and the player had hardly reached the dressing room in his quest for decent clothing when Johnson started on his successful move which I have already described.
Mackinlay was given another chance to illustrate the deadliness of his shooting from close range, but again the visiting left back failed to turn the free kick to advantage.
The Wanderers came very near to equalising a few minutes before the interval. McMillan had worked the ball to within a few yards of the goal-line, tricked Bromilow, and centred. Fazackerley was in waiting and he promptly applied his head. Luckily for the visitors Scott was favourably placed for dealing with the situation, and, gathering the ball, he stepped across goal and cleared.
Wanderers’ futile efforts.
The home forwards pleased their admirers in the opening stages of the second half by dint of resolute devil-may-care-tactics. They drove back the Liverpool middlemen and in the first five minutes won three corners. They flattered, however, only to deceive, and Liverpool dominated the play for the rest of the contest.
After Forshaw had put his side further ahead the Wanderers’ strove to improve matters by rearranging their side, Edmonds going to centre-forward, Fazackerley to inside left, and Burrill dropping into the half-back line. The “Wolves’” attack was momentarily improved, but the play settled down for the remainder of the encounter in front of George, who, in the closing moments, effected a brilliant save from Forshaw.
Liverpool won deservedly and decisively, and their visit should be taken by the Wanderers’ directors as an object-lesson.
Neither goalkeeper had much difficult work to get through, which may be taken as a compliment to the efficiency of the backs on each side. Gregory fought hard and generally successfully for the Wanderers, while Longworth and Mackinlay were covered by a brilliant intermediate line.
McNab, Wadsworth, and Bromilow were much superior to the home half-backs, amongst whom Edmonds showed the best form. Forshaw and Chambers took much checking, and Hopkin was the most prominent of the wing forwards.
The Wanderers’ forwards were scrappy and decisively beaten by the opposition half-backs.
Wolves: Noel George, Val Gregory, George Marshall, Joe Hodnett, George Brewster, Eddie Edmonds, Stuart McMillan, George Bissett, Stan Fazackerley, Frank Burrill, Harry Hargreaves.
Liverpool: Elisha Scott, Ephraim Longworth, Donald Mackinlay, John McNab, Walter Wadsworth, Tom Bromilow, William Lacey, Dick Forshaw, Dick Johnson, Harry Chambers, Fred Hopkin.
(Source: Athletic News: February 5, 1923)