For only about twenty minutes in each half did Liverpool give any real hope that they could win this match. In those periods the football and the moves were better than anything Leyton produced, and, strangely enough, Liverpool did better against a strongish wind, but the efforts were not sustained and the gradual fade-out of the attack left the London club good winners.
It was in the first half that Liverpool had the wind in their faces and the early constructive ability of Melia, plus his willingness to seek the ball, gave Liverpool the superiority and there were two occasions when Leyton were fortunate not to concede a goal, but there were also occasions when Liverpool did not score because the power in finish was not there.
The ball was light and the pitch firm, so that Liverpool's early better control was full of promise, particularly as Leyton were slow to find a settled level and when they did impose themselves more into the play, failed to use the wind as a shooting aid.
Often they dallied in front of goal, helping the Liverpool defence, but just when there were prospects that Liverpool would go into the second half on terms left winger McDonald put Leyton in front with 35 minutes gone and after that one began to look in vain for signs that Liverpool could pull back the goal.
At the start of the second half there was an attacking superiority and quite a few shots, but nothing lethal about them and gradually Leyton took a grip and another goal to Johnston in the 75th minute made sure that they would have the satisfaction of thwarting a hat-trick of Liverpool victories against them this season.
When they were in command Leyton played the faster and therefore the more dangerous football and Johnston, at centre forward, was never out of the game as a threat. True, there were times when he over-elaborated a little but his movement from the middle and general distribution helped Leyton emerge the stronger looking team.
This was the difference between the two centre-forwards for Hickson, after starting quite well, faded out and certainly these days one sees little of the zest and challenge which has upset so many defences.
Liverpool's inability to make a sustained effort must be worrying to those who direct the club because after the initial bursts the fall away left them without urgency and no-one seemed capable of the inspiration to lift them up again. Melia always tried hard and showed the way early on with speedy passes, but later he dwindled and when the pass was not made quickly enough the Leyton defence was always too good to allow penetration.
But they had started shakily and it was then that Liverpool might have got a goal, especially when right-half Facey deflected an A'Court centre towards his own net for Groombridge to make a great save with one hand, and when Melia got Hunt through, but the young inside man took so much time getting the ball under control that the chance was lost.
A reason for Liverpool's lack of forward drive may be the fact that Hunt has lost his nippy approach, because only once did he produce a fiery finish and then Groombridge made another fine save.
A'Court is not finishing well. He had plenty of opportunities in the first half to get over his centres, but too often failed because of trying to beat full back Eagles and at other times the centres were poorly directed and of no distance.
Liddell who has obviously lost his speed, did his best work in the second half, but close marking ensures that if he is not getting over the centres, there is little else to offer.
One could not be completely happy either about the defence, for it seems to me that Moran's solidity is missed when he is not at full back. Byrne played coolly and with plenty of promise and it is a temptation to wonder whether there could not be a re-alignment at full back without losing Moran's strength in the position.
Moran and Wheeler, with White were the most consistent Liverpool players. They worked hard to try and get sustained operation from the attack and in the second half Wheeler moved forward repeatedly seeking a shooting opening.
Groombridge looked like the better of the two goalkeepers.
McDonald got his goal when White's corner floated right across goal for him to side-foot the ball into the roof of the net and Johnston had the easy task of nodding his into the net when a centre from Brown passed across the face of goal, with Slater staying on his line.
Copyright - The Liverpool Daily Post