August 25, 1965
Match: Football League, First Division, at Anfield, kick-off: 19:30.
Liverpool – Sheffield United 0-1 (0-0).
Referee: Mr. J.S. Pickles.
Liverpool: Tommy Lawrence, Chris Lawler, Gerry Byrne, Gordon Milne, Ron Yeats (C), Willie Stevenson, Ian Callaghan, Roger Hunt, Ian St John, Tommy Smith, Geoff Strong.
Sheffield United: Alan Hodgkinson, Len Badger, Ken Mallender, David Munks, Joe Shaw, Bob Matthewson, Tony Wagstaff, Keith Kettleborough, Mick Jones, Alan Birchenall, Gil Reece.
The goals: 0-1 Jones (66 min.).
That’s football! Here was Anfield impatient to roar a welcome to their heroes and a new season, prepared to be soaked to the skin on a night on which only football fanatics would have left their firesides, asking only in return the privilege of celebrating another step in the march of triumph. Sheffield United, who last won here in 1947-48 season, had other ideas and celebrated a surprising success.
Quite clearly they came prepared to settle for a goalless draw, unless of course they could sneak a goal and win, and that was exactly what they did. They dod not offer the most polished display of football we are likely to see this season, although there were occasions which suggested that had they chosen a different technique thet could have been both entertaining and dangerous.
Their chance seemed to and go in 52 minutes when England international centre forward Jnes was left with the task of taping the ball over the line from no more than three or four yards. Instead he blazed high over and I’ll swear if there had not been a new and enlarged stand at Anfield Road, the ball would have gone over the old stand as well.
Fortune rarely forgives a chance scorned in that way, but not only were United to squeeze out another one in 66 minutes, but curiously enough fate dictated that it should be Jones who should have the chance to make amends. A highly promising new introduction, Gilbert Reece from Newport, brought Kettleborough into play and the inside forward shot for goal, sliced the ball well wide, to see Jones dash forward and head past Lawrence.
Mick Jones, Sheffield United.
Lucky if you like, but give credit to Jones for making amends for his earlier miss. This chance he took in the manner of an international. Liverpool have helped to make famous the two centre halves plan of campaign. United may deny it, but if they did not have three centre halves cluttering up the middle then there was an opitical illusion which persisted almost throught the match.
In addition to Joe Shaw, there was Matthewson, every bot as forbidding and industrious, and Kettleborough, less vigorous but equally effective. No matter how disappointing this defeat was for Liverpool, only blind partisanship could take away credit from that United defence for the stone wall onstacle they erected in front of goal.
The irony of it all was that Liverpool played well and most attractively up to a point, but there was no finish and largely because of the thoroughness of those Sheffield defenders. I can recall few occasions when Liverpool seemed remotely likely to score a goal at all. The first was a ground shot from Milne which Hodgkinson dealt with quite easily and a very difficult proposition when Smith hit a tremendous drive from 25 yards. Hodgkinson was relieved indeed to tip the ball over the bar after half an hour.
The finest opening of them all came in 34 minutes when Yeats, Strong and St John brought Stevenson into play. He bored straight in and miraculously the unyielding defence opened before him. Stevenson saw the chance and shot but his left foot drive screwed wide of the post.
Even before the United goal the impression had been growing that this was to be one of those nights on which little was likely to go right for Liverpool. Passes fell short of the man or by-passed him at vital moments and it was easy to forgive inaccuracies after torrential rain had soaked players, ground and crowd alike.
(Liverpool Daily Post, 26-08-1965)