Linfield v Liverpool 1-3 (Friendly match)

Thursday, July 25 – 1968
Match: Friendly, at Windsor Park.
Linfield – Liverpool 1-3 (1-1).
Attendance: 16,000.
Referee: Mr. Malcolm Wright (Portadown).
Linfield: Bertie McGonigal, Ken Gilliland, Ronald White, Isaac Andrews, Sammy Hatton, Stan Gregg, Shaun Dunlop, Bryan Hamilton, Jimmy Magill, Phil Scott, Dessie Cathcart.
Liverpool: Tommy Lawrence, Chris Lawler, Peter Wall, Tommy Smith, Ron Yeats, Emlyn Hughes, Ian Callaghan, Roger Hunt, Tony Hateley, Ian St John, Peter Thompson.
Substitutions: Ray Clemence for Lawrence at half-time; Geoff Strong for Lawler at half-time.
Unused subs.: Doug Livermore, Ian Ross, Bobby Graham.
The goals: 1-0 Hamilton (2 min.), 1-1 Own goal (McGonigal, 34 min.), 1-2 Hateley (48 min.), 1-3 Hunt (72 min.).

A fine second half of exhibition football finally crushed little Linfield 3-1 at Windsor Park, Belfast, last night – but it was only after the Irish League part timers had given Liverpool a shock and dented their pride.

If Liverpool ever thought they would be able to stroll at will through the game, they were wrong, especially in the first half. For within two minutes of sprint start Linfield had Liverpool reeling with a goal.

Cathcart and Gregg combined to put the ball through for Hamilton to lob it over the advancing Lawrence.

The apparent impudence of a pupil demonstrating to master was in this case like prodding a sleeping lion.

Sorely hurt, Liverpool threw their power and football at Linfield in a ceaseless wave of frantic attacks.

But it was not until the 34th minute that the Irishmen’s goal finally capitulated. Then a 20-yard snap shot by Roger Hunt rebounded from the foot of the post, hit prostrate goalkeeper McGonigal, and bounced into the net.

The Irishmen, who had had only two night’s training in preparation for the game, defended stoutly, with plenty of good fortune to help them, and in attack they often worried the Liverpool defence as Gregg and Scott tried to pry for openings, with Cathcart a lively winger.

But there was rarely any doubt that Linfield were on a loser. It was just a question of how long Liverpool would take to nose ahead.

It eventually took them 48 minutes for it was then that Tony Hateley took an immaculate through ball from Ian St John to shoot underneath the diving McGonigal.

From there it was exhibition stuff from Liverpool, with the ball being moved around slickly and sweetly.

They should have added more than another Roger Hunt goal after 72 minutes when he hooked in a loose ball after a Peter Thompson shot had been blocked, but they didn’t take full vengeance for their damaged pride, although Linfield had finally run out of steam.

In the first half at any rate Liverpool were, I feel, made to fight much harder for their command than I suspect they anticipated, but much of their work was too hurried and lacked someone in authority to slow the temp and channel all their effort into constructive attacks.

As they forced innumerable corners and rained in shots Linfield held out but the class of Liverpool, seen in the second half, should have been brought to bear a lot earlier.

After the interval they brought Ray Clemence for his first senior game in goal for Tommy Lawrence and Geoff Strong took Chris Lawler’s place. Strong played with St. John in midfield with Hughes taking over at left back and Peter Wall switching to the right where he looked a lot happier.

But it was the relaxation and loss of tension once they were ahead that almost visibly saw Liverpool calm down to their best soccer with St John probing in the middle, Callaghan and Thompson tormenting the Irishmen on the wings and Hunt and Hateley spelling double trouble near goal.

Clemence did what little came his way competently enough and in the second half the defence was not really tested although in the first it had seemed shaky and uncertain at times as plucky Linfield tore into them.

Perhaps it was a good thing for Liverpool that they were made to fight for otherwise the game would have been little more use than a training session. But in the absence of a tough tour such as they had to Germany last year, Liverpool needed a fight like the first half last night to forget the summer atmosphere and get back to match routine.

As a first game it was little guide to their chances for the season, especially as they were faced with a half-fit team of part-timers who had nothing left for the second half.

But I had the feeling that although it was good to see Liverpool surging forward for goal in the first half when they were behind, they will not need to be so hurried in their efforts in League matches.

They will need to be more cool and calculating and coordinate their attacks if they are to come from behind.

They will not meet many teams as easy prey as Linfield who were eventually swamped under the red assault.
(Liverpool Echo, 26-07-1968)

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