April 23, 1945
The fact that Chesterfield held Liverpool brought, I can tell you, some “wise-after-the-event” recriminations, but I am confident that by next Saturday evening they will be proved to have been ill-founded. It is my considered opinion that Liverpool will beat Chesterfield, and there are sound reasons for that conclusion.
In Mr. George Kay, Liverpool possess a manager who lives for the club, and who, seconds after the final whistle, was making plans for the return game, and making sure that wrongs are righted. Full confidence in Mr. Kay will, I am convinced, bring success to the Reds.
Great news is that Jack Balmer, the international forward, is absolutely fit again, and is ready to play. Matt Busby, the club captain, is a probable, not possible, starter, and Don Welsh may be fit to resume.
Add to this the fact that Berry Nieuwenhuys is quite fit, and that the slight knock Billy Liddell received on Saturday and which prevented his late switch to the wing, will not keep him out, and you see plenty of reason for my confident tipping of Liverpool. All right, the Reds did not play well on Saturday, but instead of blaming Liverpool why not give the full quota of praise to Chesterfield?
The reason Liverpool did not win was the brilliant defensive ability of Mr. Norman Bullock’s merry men. Believe me, Chesterfield deserved escape defeat. What Chesterfield lacked in attack they made up in destruction and the strength o! their tackling, and intrepid intervention completely upset Liverpool attempts pre-conceived football and reduced them to a team of disintegrated units.
Even carvers of openings like Phil Taylor and Nieuwenbuys were affected, and all through the Reds’ inherent desire seemed to be to get rid of the ball quickly possible. Liddell was not at his best, and the long pass down the middle, which Liverpool tried so often, was not winning move.
And there was no Matt Busby there to have steadying effect on a side too easily giving itself up to panic play. Liverpool’s collaborative skill was shattered by the very ruggedness of the Horatio-like Chesterfield, who had giants in the youngsters, Ray Middleton, Billy Whitaker, Leo Hobson – another Jack Grant – and Allen Pringle blended with the over thirties, George Milburn and Billy Kidd.
Kidd’s display belied his 38 years, and Millburn’s was an evergreen exhibition. I liked Billy Linacre, the young winger, who is going to prove a “smasher” despite his lack of weight. Jack Davie was a roving centre-forward, but there is little to fear in Town’s attack.
What Liverpool need is the craft and cunning to outwit one of the best If unceremonious defences I have seen for a long time.
I thought Jack Westby, despite lack of polish. Liverpool’s outstanding player, with Harry Kaye trying hard to introduce skill – the indefatigable Nieuwenhuys and Jack Pilling the best of the others. Laurie Hughes did not have one of his outstanding days, and neither did Jeff Gulliver – again under Don Welsh’s review for a “cap” – nor Jack Campbell. Both Campbell and Horace Cumner suffered by being switched just a little too much.
As a game it was poor, with Middleton’s save Nieuwenhuys header the one real highlight. Two things I missed most were preconceived effort and shooting powers.
(Evening Express: April 23, 1945)