Saturday, September 13 – 1947
Match: Football League, 1st Division, at Fratton Park, kick-off: 15:00.
Portsmouth – Liverpool 1-0 (0-0).
Referee: Mr. W.F. Daly (Orpigton).
Portsmouth (2-3-5): Ernie Butler; Phil Rookes, Harry Ferrier; Jimmy Scoular, Wilf McCoy, Jimmy Dickinson; Peter Harris, Tommy Brown, Duggie Reid, Bert Barlow, Jack Froggatt.
Liverpool (2-3-5): Cyril Sidlow; Bill Jones, Bernard Ramsden; Phil Taylor, Laurie Hughes, Bob Paisley; Billy Watkinson, Jack Balmer, Albert Stubbins, Kevin Baron, Billy Liddell.
The goal: 1-0 Reid (87 min.).
Portsmouth took one of their many chances, and Liverpool failed with some equally good ones. The winners’ front line deserved a goal for their brightness, which did not produce results until three minutes before the end.
Lambert, tried out this morning, found his ankle bruises little better and was rested, Ramsden, who had a particularly good game last season coming in his place.
Pompey had third teamer McCoy at centre half – a big Stubbins job for a man making his first appearance in the first team this season.
Immediately before the game there was a fine drizzle, manna from heaven for the players. The referee shook us all by appearing in a white alpaca jacket.
Baron misunderstood Stubbins’ intention when a free moving Liverpool front line was in line for a goal.
Then Liddell was uprooted inside the penalty area in my estimation and the free kick, taken by Balmer, was marked down just outside the box. In any event it mattered little.
The ball was also over the top from a Reid free kick, but this time there was immense force from it and Sidlow, who was wearing gloves must have been relieved to collect the ball from the crowd instead of the back of the net.
It was Barlow who was most unlucky not to score. His shot was heading for goal at cracking speed when it connected with the body of the immense Reid.
Liddell went clean through and shot hard and true, but Butler made a grand save, and Dickinson completed the clearance.
Phil Taylor’s wise use of the ball was already showing results.
Portsmouth were consistently good shots, but too often shot against the body of Liverpool’s defenders.
Several times Stubbins was give n offside, and in some cases there was more than suspicion that he had been penalised for being quick to move forward.
Portsmouth in attack were quick with good ideas, and Reid’s centre from the left at this moment was only flicked away by Sidlow with difficulty.
Liddell and Stubbins, in a good combined movement, all but got a well-deserved goal, the phase finishing with Liddell throwing his head back to connect with Stubbins’s right wing centre. The ball came too awkwardly to produce a headed goal.
Harris hereabouts showed the way to beat the offside trap. With Reid standing offside, Harris merely beat one man, pushed the ball forward and hared with it to goal. He lost possession as he was about to shoot and a golden chance had gone.
Jones and Taylor linked up well in the Liverpool defence and there was wiser use of the ball than there had been at Sheffield.
Portsmouth, too, were playing grand stuff, and a long and persistent right wing dribble by Harris and a shot which Sidlow had to be slick to put over the bar, was only one Portsmouth move of promise.
Stubbins had words with Rookes, who appeared to trip the centre forward after the ball was gone. Then Liddell went half the length of the field, cut in, and delivered a shot to the side netting.
Pompey’s right wing pair were alive and good, and Reid was always a danger.
Balmer, taking the Taylor part after Phil had made a splendid tackle and taken the ball upfield, put Stubbins through, and although Ferrier was across goal to make his tackle, Stubbins made a sharp shot which only narrowly cleared the bar. I don’t think Butler knew much about it.
Butler, formerly of Tranmere, was keeping goal so well he brushed the high ball away and followed it up quickly to take command of it near the edge of the penalty box.
Portsmouth only lacked the vital finishing pass to produce scores. Barlow had the ball in the net, but the whistle had gone.
Although Liverpool was the more dangerous near goal, the Portsmouth defence was at its best in last-moment interventions.
Liddell’s free kick at the penalty box corner lobbed over to Stubbins, who put the ball in the net, but had been given offside.
Portsmouth had the luckiest of escapes when a Liddell corner swung in, deceived Butler, and was picked up on the line by Ferrier. Butler was there to take over at a critical moment.
Half-time: Portsmouth 0, Liverpool, 0.
Portsmouth started the second half with a dangerous down-the-centre move emanating from a Taylor slip.
Portsmouth were still too quick, too sure of themselves in attack, for Liverpool could be almost lackadaisical in their use of the ball when they had it. Reid and Froggatt both failed by fractions to contact with their heads the corner taken on the on the left wing.
There was a spate of corners at this stage only ending with a fine but slightly high header by Scoular.
Liverpool’s best move to date was a Watkinson-Balmer-Stubbins move which finished with Butler scrambling Stubbins’ awkward shot round the post.
Dickinson was the best half back on the field and was as useful as McCoy in keeping tabs on Stubbins.
Portsmouth, thanks to a right wing which was having a good innings, were now on top, and Paisley and company had to put in their best tackling to keep them reasonably quiet.
McCoy’s fine late tackle against Liddell was just what Portsmouth wanted when Liddell ploughed through in a bid for “a goal which will win the match.”
The game by this time had slowed and became much less interesting, even Portsmouth had lost their joyousness and when Ramsden held Harris by rugby methods the crowd showed real resentment.
Stubbins, with one of the best shots of the match, flashed the ball wide, but Liddell, clean through, had a 100 to 1 on chance of scoring when Butler dropped on to his low well-hit shot and brought off the save of the season.
The game for the last few minutes at all events blossomed into life and Portsmouth’s attack came back to its best.
Rookes took the ball from Stubbins when the Liverpool forward stood not more than four yards from goal, having received a low Watkinson pass.
No wonder Stubbins laughingly shook his head as he and Rookes walked away.
Reid scored for Portsmouth with only three minutes left for play.
Froggatt placed his centre past Jones, who stood sentinel near the goal line, and the ball passed through to Reid, who slotted it in at the first time of asking.
Final: Portsmouth 1, Liverpool, 0.
(Liverpool Echo, 13-09-1947)
Portsmouth players’ Jimmy Scoular, Wilf McCoy and Jimmy Dickinson.