December 28, 1943
Liverpool came through with a 2-1 win over Tranmere Rovers – hard won at that – and then a neat 4-0 Cup win over Wrexham yesterday. Definitely the Saturday match was the more exciting and satisfying, the Wrexham game suffering because Liverpool eased up after a scintillating first-half and a lot of the life went out of the proceedings.
Let me deal with the Tranmere game first. No doubting that Liverpool were the cleverer and more deadly force throughout, but I have often seen them in much better light. As a matter of fact the Reds were often panicked by the clever Rovers, who surprised not only by their precise combination but by their fighting spirit. Liverpool deserved their win, but Tranmere played so well that it seemed a shame they got no reward. The goalkeeping display of young Birkett, the Everton goalkeeper, and the brilliance of Steve Hughes, Arthur Owen, and the injured Glidden alone merited something tangible.
Birkett’s was one of the finest displays of goalkeeping I have seen for a long time, and one save off a point-blank shot from Done from only four yards was astounding. The crowd rose to the youngster who is gaining the experience he needed.
It was Done who bagged both the Liverpool goals during the first half, but it was Beattie, the game’s best forward, who did a lot of the “donkey work.” Beattie was masterly in all his work, and for the Rovers Glidden had a fine game despite a bruised shoulder. Glidden got the goal, and the Rovers should have had others. Hastiness in front of goal caused them to drop a point when people were wondering whether the Rovers were going to upset Liverpool’s championship aspirations.
Liverpool had their anxious moments, but held their lead only to find that their top-of-the-league rivals had also won and so the championship again went to Blackpool.
Mr. Tom Moore, the Rovers’ vice-chairman, was the only Tranmere director present on Saturday, but Wrexham brought a big party of good friends for yesterday’s game, chairman Mr. John Hughes being accompanied by Messrs. Herbert Pritchard (vice chairman), Sam Clutton, George Turner, and Tom Williams and Dr L. Edwards (directors) and Tom Williams (secretary-manager). All were delighted at the financial success of the visit and the chance to greet Liverpool chairman Mr. Richard Lawson Martindale and all his directorial colleagues with one exception. But …. the Wrexham people must have been disappointed at the tame, if pretty display by their team.
There was never any doubting Wrexham’s ability to play cohesive football, but the inter-passing was carried to extremes. Hobson, the Liverpool goalkeeper, had only one direct shot to save all afternoon. The Welsh defence was excellent with Tudor and Cyril Jones, two of the big men of the game – this Jones is going places – but the attack was far from good. This was mainly due to Bremner and Malam playing an exaggerated “W” plan. Hill was always a big-hearted worked, and Whitelaw was fine in goal, but lack of directness cost Wrexham dearly.
Liverpool had an easy win, in fact, had they not “pulled their punches” in the second half they would have doubled their total. As it was they were guilty of some astonishing misses in front of goal.
The Liverpool defenders’ task was made simple by the mistaken tactics of Wrexham, and the ever-improving Hughes cannot have had an easier game since he joined the club. It was good having Kaye back again with his progressive arts, and Hit-em-on-the-run Hulligan made a welcome return to take the first goal and have a hand in Balmer’s point, both coming in eleven minutes. Balmer followed with another, and Done brought the total to four before half-time. Beattie and Welsh constituted the main motive power behind the Reds, Beattie being the most energetic man afield.
(Evening Express: December 28, 1943)