March 18, 1942
The stars which Rochdale had in their side on Saturday at Spotland against Liverpool were disappointing. On paper the team seemed strong enough to offer reasonable opposition to any eleven, yet long before the game was over we had found it necessary to remind ourselves that stars shine at night and that one, two, three or even four stars do not make the firmament. Rochdale’s chief trouble, despite individual shortcomings, was that they were never a team, and a score of 8-2 in favour of Liverpool reveals its own story.
The manner in which the visitors turned defence into attack left one breathless, for whenever they got into full cry the spearhead of the throust could be seen backed by flying figures like a pack in full cry for the kill.
Territorially the game was nothing like so one sided as the score suggests, but Liverpool’s dynamic offensive power seemed likely to overwhelm the home defence every time it came into operation, and their sharpshooting made John appear a mere nominal figure of a goalkeeper. The trouble was that the game started all wrong as far as Rochdale were concerned.
In three minutes Balmer, taking a free-kick from well outside the penalty area, scored with a lightning drive which, however, should not have beaten a man of John’s calibre. I anoither minute Rochdale were level when Treanor hooked in Dooley’s free kick for Hobson to knock the ball against the post on its way into the net, and straight from the restart Done took a return pass to go clean through a wide open defence and beat John with a cross-shot which struck the goalkeeper’s arm on its way home.
In this shock period Rochdale finished at a disadvantage from which they never recovered. They swarmed to the attack in a nervous hurry which contrasted with the more deliberate yet yards faster movements of their opponents, and though the home side accepted the challenge, they were always struggling.
In ten minutes “Nivvy” scored Liverpool’s third and nine minutes later an Ancell free-kick reduced the margin to one again. Just as it seemed that Rochdale might survive to fight the second half only a goal down, Balmer scored two goals within a minute, and Rochdale were in a hopeless position. Particularly was this emphasised when Ancell was given a chance to make a game of it again in the first minute of the second half with a penalty, but Hobson saved, and the fight gradually went out of Rochdale.
Goals came to Liverpool in the 63rd, 64th and 88th minute through Nieuwenhuys, Done (penalty) and Nieuwenhuys respectively. Rochdale’s first home game since early January was a big disappointment although matters never ran their way.
The least said about this game from the Spotland men’s standpoint the better. The forwards tried hard, but at no time did they find the way to make the ball do the work of beating the opposition. Nevertheless they had their chances, but failed to take them. The defence could not withstand the fast raiding of Liverpool, though Neary had too much to do attempting to cover the men on each side of him, whilst the wing halves did their best to see that the men in front of them were kept going, but they were often left to far behind to take any serious part in defence.
Liverpool had a good day, particularly the right wing, where brilliant “Nivvy” and a thrustful Balmer seemed to keep Ancell consistently on the wrong leg. Their finishing was also outstanding, for of the chances which came their way all but two counted as goals – and one of the “misses” was an offside goal.
Rochdale: Roy John, Samuel Patton, Bob Ancell, Tom Dooley, John Neary, Jim Treanor, Percy Taylor, Jimmy Cunliffe, Bill Walsh, Joe Duff, Roly Bartholomew.
Liverpool: Alf Hobson, Ron Guttridge, Ray Lambert, Charlie Fazackerley, Fred Finney, Harry Kaye, Berry Nieuwenhuys, Jack Balmer, Cyril Done, Fred Haycock, Stan Palk.
Referee: Mr. J. Houston, of Stockport.
Attendance: 2,373; receipts: £124.
(Rochdale Observer: March 18, 1942)