Liverpool v Manchester United 3-2 (War time, League match)

Saturday, November 4 – 1944
Match: Football League, Northern Section, at Anfield, kick-off: 15:00.
Liverpool – Manchester United 3-2 (1-1).
Attendance: 17,610.
Referee: Mr. J.E. Thomason (Crewe)
Liverpool (2-3-5): Alf Hobson, Jim Harley, Jeff Gulliver (Reading), Phil Taylor, Laurie Hughes, Jimmy McInnes, Billy Liddell, Berry Nieuwenhuys, Don Welsh, Jack Balmer, Horace Cumner (Arsenal).
Manchester United (2-3-5): Jack Crompton, Joe Walton, George Roughton, Jack Warner, Briggs, Bert Whalley, Bill Bryant, Woodcock, Jack Smith, Albert Mycock, Chadwick.
The goals: 1-0 Welsh (penalty, 17 min. – cause: handball), 1-1 Mycock (43 min.), 2-1 Own goal (Roughton, 65 min. – ass: Liddell), 2-2 Mycock (70 min.), 3-2 Welsh (81 min. – ass: Liddell).

Grim tussle at Anfield.
Liverpool’s late winner.
Manchester United can count themselves unfortunate not to get a point from their game against Liverpool at Anfield, which they lost 2-3 before a crowd of 17.610 spectators, among whom was Mr. Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour.

On the other hand, Liverpool should never have been in the position of having to fight so grimly for the winning goal in the closing stages. Had they taken their chances they could have had the issue well settled in the first half-hour, when they clamped United down in their own territory for long stretches and shook the opposing defence out of its complacency.

As it was, the home attack was too hurried in its movements and erratic with its shooting. Liverpool certainly had bad luck when Liddell and Cumner struck the woodwork with Crompton well beaten, but this was balanced when Welsh scored from a penalty after seventeen minutes, and the upright prevented Smith getting the equaliser two minutes later.

The penalty incident.
The penalty arose when Briggs found himself in the dead centre of a terrific drive from Balmer four yards away. He could not possibly have got out of the way, and it seemed to me a clear case of “ball-to-hand.” This was a blow for United, as also was Liverpool’s second goal, which came midway throught the second half, when an out-swinging centre from Liddell deceived Crompton, and Roughton, trying to head away, put the ball into his own net.

In between these United had had their own slice of fortune when the Liverpool defence delayed its challenge on Woodcock and his half-hit shot bounced its way into the home goal. Had he hit it properly Hobson, who dived for it on that assumption, might have saved.

The last two goals were the best of the day. Mycock got a grand one to put the sides level, and nine minutes from the end a copybook centre from the touch-line by Liddell enabled Welsh to head home the winner.

It was a hard and gruelling game throughout with the respective defences generally masters of the proceedings. Manchester’s rear-guard showed occasional signs of shakiness in the early stages when Liverpool were crowding on full sail, but later it came to its best, and though in the second half all the home forwards changed places expect Welsh, they made little better impression on the dogged United defence.

Liverpool had the right ideas in swinging the ball about freely and bringing bot wings fully into their scheme of attack. The United’s quick interception and keen tackling, however, allied to Liverpool’s over-hurried methods often resulted in attacks breaking down before they got to the point where Crompton could be properly tested. There were oo many long and hasty shots.

Liddell in form.
Gulliver and McInnes found United’s right wing troublesome. Both goals came from that quarter, Bryant having a share in each. Hughes was a “Stonewall Jackson” in the home rear-guard, having the measure of Smith in most of their duels, and his heading was again an outstanding feature. Taylor was a source of strength in both attack and defence. Liddell came to his old-time form when he crossed to outside left, and was Liverpool’s most virile and effective forward thenceforward.

Wels was a lively leader, yet had few chances against Briggs, who stuck to him like a leech. Nieuwenhuys and Balmer were not at their best, and Cumner was only moderate.

United had four former A team players in their side in Crompton, Briggs, Walton and Mycock, and could be well satisfied with them all. Whalley and Warner got through a tremendous amount of work, and  the whole side put up a creditable and workmanlike display which deserved some reward.
(Liverpool Daily Post, 06-11-1944)

Billy Liddell, Liverpool F.C.
Billy Liddell, Liverpool F.C.

League standing, table from Birmingham Daily Gazette, Monday, November 6 – 1944.

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