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Liverpool in a fade-out

England team manager Walter Winterbottom went to Anfield - to run the rule over Brian Clough, the man everybody in the North-East says should be leading England's forward-line.

I'm sorry, you Ayresome fans, but on this display there must still be a query against big Brian's name. It was just not his day. He started with a horrible fresh-air shot in the opening minutes, repeated the dose in the 26th minute - and saw full-back Ronnie Moran kick his best scoring attempt off the goal-line.

But before the brickbats start rolling in from Tees-side I am not trying to write off Clough completely.

He rarely got the type of support he should be able to expect from his inside men and spent much of his time playing deep in vain efforts to escape the never-flagging watch which Dick White kept on him.

Middlesbrough just about deserved to win a game which, if it never bordered on the 'classic', held plenty of action and thrills.

Liverpool started out as if they were out to usurp Boro's goal-scoring reputation. And the visitors were hard-pushed before Billy Liddell - still a force to be reckoned with despite his 37 years - put them ahead.

Clough's miskicks - both of them from Billy Day passes - were about Boro's only contributions of note in the first half. But it was different after the interval.

Liverpool seemed to have burned themselves out. But they looked like holding out until Rudham completely missed a Day corner and centre-half Phillips made amends for his first-half slip by volleying the ball into the back of the net.

Brighter vein

Then on we had glimpses of Boro's forwards in a much brighter vein. And it was no surprise when, five minutes from the end, wing-half Bill Harris put them into the lead after Clough and Willy Fernie had given the Liverpool defence a 'double dummy' from a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area.

Middlesbrough made it hard for themselves. In not utilising the speed of their wingers - perhaps they were playing too hard to Clough.

For Liverpool, who flattered to deceive, Jimmy Melia was their best forward while White and Barry Wilkinson got through a tremendous amount of effective work.

Edwin Holliday, who always had too much pace for Liverpool back John Molyneux, was the pick of the Boro front line.

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