Liverpool “pulled their punches” too much early on

May 7, 1945
When manager Mr. Frank Womack, of Oldham Athletic, whom it was a delight to meet and greet again on Saturday, was asked by Manchester United if he would allow Bill Ratcliffe, the “Latics’” goalkeeper, to stand by at Old Trafford in case of emergency, he consented, knowing that in the 20-year-old Fred Ogden he had a capable deputy whom he wanted to subject to a stern test. And during the final stages of the dual at Anfield the Liverpool forwards certainly made that test exacting.

Piling on all pressure facing the Kop the Reds’ forwards made Ogden the busiest man afield, and Ogden took his chance in the manner born. Had it not been for Ogden, Liverpool would have won much more convincingly than 3-2, and conversely had the Liverpool forwards finished their first half approach with the same “fire” characteristic of the closing stages it would have been all over long before the interval.

As it was, Phil Taylor and Berry Nieuwenhuys – two grand goals – had to content, and then came a typical Oldham revival, and in 15 minutes the ‘Latics had tied it up, thanks to Norman Standring and Ken Brierley. That meant Liverpool having to start their task all over again, but it all worked out justly when young Les Shannon got the winner.

Subsequently the Reds might have had half-a-dozen goals, and yet in the last seconds Eddie Chapman dashed through to almost save the game for Oldham, for only a brilliant save by Herbert Hall prevented the equaliser. Hall was under keen Liverpool review, for he was having his first game with the Reds at Anfield, where they know good goalkeepers.

Hall, who has been playing with Bolton, came through with plenty on the credit side, for he had no chance with the shots which beat him, and throughout his fielding and positional play were excellent. Hall is the type of goalkeeper who inspires confidence, for he has a sureness about his work.

The finest football in this game which, from being one-sided, became quite a thriller, was the perfection play of Phil Taylor and Harry Eastham. Their link-up brought back vivid memories of the Phil Taylor/Jack Balmer combined operations against Oldham last season. It was the essence of copybook football. Taylor was always a potent force, and while Eastham may have tantalised at times by holding on too long, his mastery over the ball was positively amazing. It was ball jugglery.

Nieuwenhuys became a spearhead more than of late – hence his goal – but I still contend that much of Berry’s power is wasted when operation at inside right. His place is and always should be outside right. Jack Campbell and Les Shannon completed an attack which delighted the eye and bewildered Oldham, while the entire Liverpool defence was the epitome of soundness. That the game did not come easier to the Reds was simply because they “pulled their punches” too much early on.
(Evening Express: May 7, 1945)

Phil Taylor, Liverpool F.C.


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