December 28, 1943
After scoring four goals in the first half, and missing half-a-dozen easy chances, Liverpool were held to a goalless second half by Wrexham at Anfield yesterday in the first leg of the Football League (War) Cup qualifying round.
The reason for this check to what promised to be another goal-rush game was an injury to Welsh, the Charlton international, who had been the mainspring of all the Liverpool attacks in the first half, although credit must be given to Tudor, who gave a heroic display at centre-half for the visitors, and also in lesser measure to Whitelaw, Hilliard, and Jones, who were kept on the go throughout the game.
Both sides made several changes, chiefly positional, but they were mostly in favour of Liverpool, who fielded a first-class forward line, which soon displayed how to make and take goals. The first came in five minutes when Beattie, taking advantage of a slip by Hill, centre across the goalmouth, Done let it go to Hulligan, who celebrated his Christmas leave by opening the scoring.
Done and Balmer went near a few minutes later, and after Bremner had a shot blocked, Balmer scored Liverpool’s second in eleven minutes. Welsh was the initiator. He had combined with Hulligan and finally centred from the left wing right across to Balmer, who slammed in a shot which hit Hilliard on the goal-line before entering the net-
Wrexham did not take these reverses lying down and for some little time gave a delightful display of football craft without getting any reward, chiefly because they adopted the short passing game, and played into the feet of Hughes, Westby, and Gulliver. Bremner and Malam were full of tricks and touches, but their finishing was wretched.
At the twenty second minute Welsh put the ball forward to either Done or Balmer to deal with. They tricked Tudor and Hilliard, and Balmer made no mistake with the shot. After Beattie jad missed the easiest of chances he got the ball into the net, but offside had sounded.
Liverpool’s fourth goal came just after the half-hour, when Done, again spoonfed by Welsh, crashed through on his own. Twice he lost touch with the ball as he was tackled, but he persisted and ended up with an unstoppable shot. This completed the scoring, although Welsh had the goal at his mercy, just before half-time and swung the ball wide.
Opening the second half as though they would sweep Wrexham off their feet. Liverpool had several scoring chances, particularly Balmer, who miskicked with only Whitelaw to beat. Welsh was injured hereabouts and went on the wing, Hulligan changing over to the right and Balmer going inside.
Wrexham now came into the picture, and Hughes, plus Westby and Jones, were the busiest men on the field. Kaye once kicked the ball off the goal line with Malam right through, while Bamford, who had gone from the centre to the wing, twice missed good chances. Liverpool’s attack now lacked fire, and when Balmer was right through, his shot cannoned out to Welsh, who missed his kick entirely.
Wrexham’s forward line was all at sixes and sevens at this point in the game, and winger Smith missed two good chances when Malam presented him with neat passes; indeed, their best attacker now was half-back Savage (ex-Liverpool), but the Liverpool defence held. The miss of the match was Done’s, near the end, when he scooped a ball over the bar from two yards out.
On the whole it was a very entertaining game, and one was glad to see Wrexham fight back when their chances looked so hopeless, but if Liverpool can field this side next week, then there is little hope for the Welshmen avenging the defeat.
Liverpool: Alf Hobson, Jack Westby, Jeff Gulliver, Harry Kaye, Laurie Hughes, Jack Pilling, Jack Balmer, Robert Beattie, Cyril Done, Don Welsh, Michael Hulligan.
Wrexham: David Whitelaw, Cyril Jones, Hilliard, Ted Savage, Billy Tudor, Frank Hill, Smith, Gordon Bremner, Bamford, Albert Malam, Joe Pilling.
(Liverpool Daily Post: December 28, 1943)