It is nothing new for Liverpool to return from Cardiff pointless, but for the fact that this year did not see a break in the depressing sequence the fault was, well and truly, all their own. Liverpool had accomplished the hardest part of their task when they pulled back from being a goal down to an interval position of 2-1 up, but the defence, a department which had spelled nothing but stability in the past, slipped and slipped badly.
No club with ambitions such as Liverpool possess, can afford to leave one and sometimes two forwards entirely unmarked, near enough to goal to be lethal. It is asking for trouble in a big way. I know that when Moore hit the equaliser Liverpool were convinced that the centre forward was offside, but he should never have been given such latitude.
That was bad enough, but for the error to be repeated later on with Watkins in the position of Moore, was inexcusable. Man for man marking for the long cross from the wing could easily have prevented both goals, but it was just non existent.
Cardiff were nothing like so obliging when either Morris or A'Court tried to find an open space, and the result was that the forwards strove in vain to get in a decisive shot.
Not so masterful
The Liverpool half back line was not so masterful as Cardiff's, although it was a shock to Malloy to find himself debited with two goals. He was unlucky indeed to find his name tacked on to Liverpool's first goal, for a Melia shot hit him on its way to the net. Cardiff insisted that Vearncombe had the shot covered and it was only the change of direction after the ball had struck the centre half that produced the goal.
Likewise, Melia was similarly unfortunate to be deprived of credit for Liverpool's opening score.
For the second, Malloy had no excuse whatever. All he had to do was leave the ball alone for A'Court's centre would have rolled out of play, with not a Liverpool man within reach. Instead, he tried to bring it under control and took it into the net.
This was enough to knock the heart out of any side and Cardiff's winning rally would have been difficult indeed without Liverpool's slip-shod cover, which gave the home team all the encouragement they needed.
That Liverpool's forward line is still not good enough was self evident. Bimpson never mastered Malloy and only Melia, who looks as though he may make this a memorable season, was truly dominant. Melia has learned not to overdo the clever stuff. He was satisfied to beat a man once and showed a willingness to bang away at goal that was not shared by all members of the attack.
Although there were times when Harrower took part in some clever exchanges with Melia, the Liverpool line looked in need of a more direct, resolute attacker to provide greater bite. It is punch the line lacks and it was disappointing that one looked so often in vain for signs of it.
Of pretty play there was quite a lot, but there was not the threat as the line moved forward that we so often saw from the Cardiff approaches.
Well Done, Slater!
Still, the forward disappointments should not have cost the match, for the critical spotlight was very much focussed on the failure of the men behind to play up to standards which we have come to take so much for granted.
From this criticism must be excepted the Scottish debutant goalkeeper, Slater. In no way could he be associated with the defeat. A less capable player would have been beaten more frequently and if Slater can go on improving on this standard Liverpool's worries in goal appear to have been taken care of for many years to come.
It was obvious that he has yet to familiarise himself with the play of the men in front, but that will come. On one occasion he punched at the ball when I would have preferred to see him gather and twice he was in danger of being penalised for "carrying".
But on the credit side were numerous saves, brought about by his remarkable agility, and his spectacular pounces to the extreme ends of his goal did him the greatest credit. What roars of delights would feats such as he achieved produced from an Anfield crowd. He is a worthy successor to Tommy Younger and, unless I am very much mistaken, will prove not only as spectacular as his predecessor but every bit as successful.
The dusky South African, Mokone, whose troubles may start as the grounds get heavier scored the opening goal of the Cardiff season, and it would be difficult for anyone to be other than impressed by his debut.
Of even greater promise to my mind, was 18-year-old centre forward Moore, who played several games last season as an inside-forward, the scorer of Cardiff's second goal.
Watkins celebrated his first game for Cardiff with the winning goal and a display that left the club satisfied that his purchase from Bristol City will pay dividends.
Copyright - The Liverpool Echo