December 20, 1943
Liverpool were much too powerful for Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. A 9-2 victory away from home is handsome enough, but it might have been greater. This win brings back Liverpool into the championship fight, a fight which has been left open by Blackpool’s inability to win outright at Southport.
Much was expected of the Rovers, with the addition of Ashcroft in the forward line, but they failed to cause the visitors the slightest worry. Liverpool took the initiative from the start, and a lucky goal scored by full back Gulliver in ten minutes shook the Rovers. It was such a one-sided match that little can be said of Tranmere other than that they defended stubbornly against a side which was greatly superior in almost every phase of the game. Had not Hughes stood up gallantly to Liverpool’s attacks, I fear to think of what the Anfield team’s score might have been, for no one else seemed able to get the better of the Liverpool forwards, who carved their way through by skilful football, and should by rights have had more than nine goals to their credit at the call of time.
What I could not understand about the Rovers was that they did not make the best use of Ashcroft. I cannot count more than four passes being sent out to the Welshman. The truth was that the Rovers had enough to do guard their own goal so that their forwards had to do most of their own foraging.
Glidden had one or two cracks at goal, but his path was strewn with obstacles, the most formidable being his former colleague Hughes. Apart from one or two short spells, the Rovers were mainly on the defensive, such was the weight of Liverpool’s attack, which in the end simply crushed Tranmere’s defence out of the game.
The first goal came in this way: Gulliver just stepped over the half-way line preparatory to punting the ball well up the middle and Birkett came out to field it. There seemed no danger, but the ball bounced high over Birkett’s head and then bounced twice more on its journey to the back of the net. This was at the tenth minute.
It was during the last twenty minutes or so of the first half that the Rovers suffered their deathblow. Liverpool were admirably served by Beattie and Welsh, particularly the latter, for he made opening by his canny method of shifting the attack from one point to aniither rapidly. Before half-time Beattie (2) and Done had added further goals. Other goal scoring chances were missed by Done, Balmer and Campbell.
The second half was not many minutes old when Done ran half the length of the field to score a sixth goal for Liverpool, but within the next minute Glidden slipped one in for Tranmere. Laurie Hughes having passed back to Hobson, who before he could make contact had the ball swept from under his nose and into the net. Hobson was injured in this incident and left the field for five minutes, Welsh going into goal.
With Welsh’s return to the forward line, however, Liverpool once more kept up a series of attacks which produced further goals from Done, Balmer, and Welsh. Jackson sandwiching one in just before Balmer scored his.
It could almost be said that once a Liverpool attack got past Hughes it should have scored, for he was the one man who had the ability to stand Liverpool’s onslaught. Apart from his one error (Gulliver’s goal), Birkett could not be blamed for any of the other eight goals. L. Hughes showed his old followers wat a greatly improved player he is. He was often the rock on which the Rovers’ attack split itself. Westby and Gulliver lent him any aid he required, but it was Welsh and Beattie, allied to the driving force of Done, which riddled and racked the Rovers’ defence.
Scorers: Gulliver 15 minutes, Beattie 27, Done 30, Beattie 44, Beattie 45, Done 55, Glidden 56, Done 70, Jackson 73, Balmer 87, Welsh 89 minutes.
Tranmere Rovers: Wilf Birkett, Alex Hyslop, Len Kieran, Frank Hill, Steve Hughes, Laurie Hodgson, Llew Ashcroft, Fogg, Danny Glidden, George Paterson, Pat Jackson.
Liverpool: Alf Hobson, Jack Westby, Jeff Gulliver, Stan Palk, Laurie Hughes, Jack Pilling, Jack Balmer, Robert Beattie, Cyril Done, Don Welsh, Jack Campbell.
Referee: Corporal J. Brown (Royal Marines).
(Liverpool Daily Post: December 20, 1943)