The League champions opened their series of home games under the most suspicious conditions, and no more enticing curtain raiser could have been desired that a meeting between them. And their keenest rivals, Everton. The weather was delightfully fine, and in this respect compensated somewhat for the lugubrious conditions, which prevailed when the sides fought at Anfield, and the Liverpool treasurer must have chortled with glee, as the crowd rolled up in thousands to the scene of the conflict. Nothing stirs the pulse of the local followers of the dribbling code like the struggle between the seaport's premier League clubs, and to even hint of the decadence of the winger pastime under the surrounding sundar to these which, prevailed at Anfield on Saturday, could only be regarded as rank heresy.
Nearly thirty thousands ardent enthusiasts congregated inside the enclosure, whilst a vast number were refused admission some time before actual operations commenced. Those who mustered on the popular parts of the ground appeared to be having an exciting time of it during the minutes of waiting and many must have carried away with them some tangible recognition of two hours pressure. It was a good humoured, well-conducted crowd, however, and the reward was forthcoming in the shape of a battle royal between the combatants. One in which, neither side could lay claim to much advantage, in point of play, but one which fairly bristled with interesting incidents, and like a hesitating balance. Fluctuated alternately to either party, until it finally terminated its motion in an equal adjustment.
Rarely has a better display of football between the clubs been witnessed; the men played the game in most praiseworthy fashion, and were content to concentrate their energies on the ball rather than the player. There were occasional instances of retrogression, but Referee Lewis allowed no liberties of this nature to pass unchecked, and it is pleasing to be able to record that such keen rivals can fight their battles unbiased by any other conditions than those of pure sportsmanship. Liverpool fairly delighted their supporters by the dashing manner in which they continued their task, and in less than five minutes their jubilation ran riot. A long pass from Raisbeck placed the ball beyond Abbott, and in a twinkling Bowen was after it. Closely pursed by Watson. The Everton back, however, made little effort to tackle his opponents, who thus centred with ease, and the ball flashed across the goalmouth to White, one of the Anfielder's recruits from Queen's Park Rangers, and Everton were a goal in rarer. For some time the home forwards simply overwhelmed the Everton defence, but the visitors gradually settled down to their work, and from a foul against Wilson. Sharp equalised, the ball, after being well placed by Abbott and returned by Perkins, appearing to be driven by Dunlop against the Everton right winger. Off whom it cannoned into the net. Settle scored a pretty goal just before in the interval and three minutes after the resumption Raybould preformed a similar feat from almost the same position.
At the commencement of each half did Liverpool show to advantage, whereas Everton were superior in their later stages, and the result therefore faithfully portrays the general run of the play. Much interest was evinced as to how the newly constituted forward line of the home side would act, but those who had any qualies as to its efficiently quickly had they four set at rest. A very business like Combination did it prove, well balanced, skillful, and dashing and had it been more judiciously nursed by the half backs line, would probably have been more effective. It was decidedly unfortunate for this line that White should, owing to a fall which badly bruised his shoulder, have been materially handicapped in his subsequent play, and the accident certainly upset the smoothness with which the left wing had previously worked. Sufficient was however, shown to prove the Southerner to be an intelligent player, his passing was extremely tricky, and rather nonplussed Boyle, who was frequently outmaneurved by his opponents. With this branch of the attack working under the ordinary conditions it is easy to imagine that the Everton defence would have been more sorely troubled. On the right Bowen was a very difficult customer to tackle, and it seen's rather strange that he was not more assiduously attended to. He was not worked to anything like the extent he should have been for he seemed to be complete master of Watson, and only wanted a useful halfbacks behind to make matters sultry for Everton. One could have forgiven Liverpool had they concentrated their whole efforts on this wing for some time, to the extent of leaving the other extremely of the line severely alone. Raybould was clever in the centre and as a body the Liverpool front rank performed their share creditably.
The Everton quintet worked well times, but they had some slow periods, and they did not combine with that facility which marked their doings in their two previous games. At intervals, however, they were extremely incisive in their attacks and reached a high standard of ability. They were not by any means at their best, and concerted action was indulged in, but occasionally, but in these latter instance they required much stopping. In the second half, bell was seen to advantage, and after a feeble opening, improved as the game progressed. Whilst none was unduly prominent many smart movements were achieved, and Sharp sent across some capital centres, which deserved a better late than the majority gained. At half back the play on both sides was only moderate, and the Everton were the weaker side in this respect. Abbott alone upheld the dignity of the line, for Booth was extremely inaccurate in his placing, and showed little dash or judgement in attending to his forwards. Boyle was not so prominent and taken altogether the halfbacks line of Everton was distinctly disappointing.
The opponents was little later, and the weakest member of the Liverpool halves was Wilson. His roaming propensities made a gap in the defence, which often let in the Everton left wing, and had he devoted his attention more to the ball and less to the man, his play would not have suffered one whit. Raisbeck too, was not up to concert pitch, in defence he was extremely useful, but many excellent bits of work were nullified by his continued placing to the feet of the Everton full backs. Goldie was the best half on the field, and the persistent manner in which he attended to his wing was only equally in efficiency by the matter in which he dogged the speedy Sharp. At full back, Liverpool were better balance, for although Balmer gave a splendid display of sound tackling and judicious kicking, his partner Watson was altogether too hesitating in his actions. He did not tackle well, and ought certainly to have shown more decision in his play all round. Dunlop as usual licked sturdy, but he was allowed plenty of room to perform in, and his returns, though vigorous were not over industrious. Glover gave a good display and the defence was satisfactory, for Perkins saved several shots coolly and effectively and one clearance from Proudfoot was a rare feat. No fault could be found with Muir, who had no chance with the balls that scored. Under the circumstances a drawn game was a most fitting termination to splendidly contested fight, and both sides fully deserved.
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