April 16, 1945
Liverpool’s triumph over Manchester City 3-1, Maine Road (aggregate 6-1), was a fine example of the win-by-waiting policy. There was pre-match plan, but the Reds adapted themselves with refreshing facility to circumstances; pursued the right policy; wore down the lively opposition; and then .. wham .. hit them for the proverbial six.
The master tactics of acting – captain Phil Taylor and Horace Cumner, and a great save Alf Hobson, really placed Liverpool on the road to victory. The City exposed their hand the first seconds when they flung everything into attack hoping to shake Liverpool out of their fastness of three goals’ lead by sheer speed and thrust.
Immediately Taylor and Cumner leaned to defence rather than attack. Both set out to blot the opposing inside-forwards, relying on their own physical power and alertness to take them through to attack when the occasion arose.
The already strong Liverpool defence was further impregnated by the strength of Taylor and Cumner so that the City, for quite a lot pressure, had only one goal to show for it at half-time, and that secured only because Billy Williamson hampered Hobson. Near half-time Hobson made the save that almost broke Manchester hearts – a quick foot intervention when all seemed lost.
After half-an-hour one could see, plain as a pikestaff, that the pace City had set was telling on them. In other words, Liverpool were content to allow the City to run their batteries down beyond re-charging point, and when we adjourned for the interval cup tea there was never the slightest doubt in my mind that Liverpool were already winners.
It proved to be so. A brief flash of the City attack well dealt with by Hobson, Hughes and the backs, and then the initiative was taken firmly in the grasp of Liverpool.
The Reds introduced skill and consideration where City had pace, and within five minutes City were out the cup for Taylor equalised with a glorious header from a corner, and then Don Welsh, an ever-present thorn in the City side, got the ball from goalkeeper Jones, and tapped through.
Later Don Welsh said “Thanks a million” to Cumner, and rammed home No 3. Just before Welsh had headed through, but for some reason I could not see from the stand the goal was disallowed. However, it made no matter.
This was the essence of a team win to delight Chairman Mr. William McConnell, vice-chairman Mr. Stanley Ronald Williams, directors Messrs. William Harvey Webb, James Troop, George Alfred Richards and Ralph Knowles Milne and Manager Mr. George Kay, who journeyed through. There was not a weakness in the whole Liverpool machine for Jeff Gulliver subdued the prime menace, Dunkley, who caused no little worry early on.
It is no reflection on any other player in this efficient Liverpool side when I single out Laurie Hughes, Phil Taylor, Jack Westby and Don Welsh for the special pats on the backs. Hughes, I thought, the outstanding figure giving the City insides no operative room whatever, while Taylor was the inspiration behind the whole side, being almost Busby-like in his leadership. Welsh’s big heart enabled him to forget the pain of a thigh muscle injury, and his opportunism was typical of a fine player, while Westby covered any crudities with his sheer effectiveness. Westby lacked the veneer of Bert Sproston, but performed a much better job of work.
Hobson’s vital saves; Gulliver’s brilliant second half; the never-ceasing industry of Kaye and Pilling; the trustfulness of Campbell when switched to the right; the ball artistry of Harry Eastham, having a great game on his return to the club; and last, but by no means least, the wonder play of Cumner at inside-left, were important factors in the win. Cumner’s quick bursts; his exactitude in ball placing and thirst for work gave him his best-ever display for the club.
Yes, a good side whom Chesterfield, Manager Mr. Norman Bullock assures me will be happy to meet and beat.
(Evening Express, 16-04-1945)