January 15, 1945
It is a long time since Liverpool had to fight so desperately hard for victory in a home match as they had against Stockport County at Anfield, and the final score of 4-1 is a misleading guide to the respective merits of the sides.
Liverpool certainly deserved to win if only for their greater striking power in front of goal, but up to 15 minutes from the end it was anybody’s game. With the visitors starting rather shakily Liverpool were the more dangerous in the very early stages, but once Stockport had settled down they provided the crowd of 14,357 with an entertaining display of sound, constructive football.
Fortunately for Liverpool, their finishing was their weakest point. Though Liverpool scored first, Taylor heading through a Campbell centre in Dean-like manner at the half-hour. Stockport well-earned the equaliser three minutes before half-time, despite the strong offside doubt attached to Shawcross’s goal.
The standard of Stockport’s football this half had been a revelation. Their dour defence had covered up extremely well, and their wing halves and forwards had combined in well-balanced upward moves which gave the home defence plenty of work without ever getting really to grips with Hobson.
Liverpool, on the other hand, seemed unable to get going in their normal fashion. The forwards were constantly being over-kicked, the wing halves were not as dominating as usual, and an early thigh injury to Welsh took a lot of steam out of the front line.
A rather fortunate goal by Taylor put Liverpool ahead two minutes after the resumption, and for the next half-hour it was a thrill-packed ding-dong struggle. Each goal had narrow escapes in turn, though Gage had the greater amount of work to do, and it was not until the closing stages that Liverpool really got on top, mainly because they lasted out the fast pace the better.
In the last eight minutes Campbell and Welsh added further goals and only some sterling work by Gage prevented the margin being greater. As a team Liverpool were not as convincing as one expected. The rear defence was sound enough, but the wing halves, through they improved considerably later, were below par early on, when Nieuwenhuys tried to show them the way by his long clearances when danger threatened. Campbell was in brilliant form on the right wing and Taylor was a lively leader, but Welsh’s skill in forcing openings was handicapped by his injury.
Stockport’s defence showed excellent understanding until it was eventually worn down by Liverpool’s pressure. Hill gave a tip-top exhibition, and Shaw set the right tempo for the attack, being always a worry to the home defence.
Liverpool: Alf Hobson, Jack Blood (Exeter City), Jeff Gulliver, Harry Kaye, Laurie Hughes, Jack Pilling, Jack Campbell, Berry Nieuwenhuys, Phil Taylor, Don Welsh, Bill Kinghorn.
Stockport County: Larry Gage, Fred Redfern, Ron Lewin, Maurice Hill, George Cope, Billy McCulloch, Ken Shawcross, Doug Hayward, Ken Shaw, Harry Topping, Angus Morrison.
Referee: Mr. J.H. Parker (Crewe).
(Liverpool Daily Post: January 15, 1945)