Liverpool ride their luck

By Ian Ross of "Daily Post". 

Diplomacy prevented him from saying it but John Hollins left Anfield yesterday utterly convinced his Chelsea side had been robbed. Tact prevented him from saying it but John Hollins clambered aboard the Londoners' team coach utterly convinced that Ian Rush's dramatic late fall was just that, and not a push. Discretion prevented him from saying it but John Hollins headed south utterly convinced that referee Neville Ashley had done his utmost to undermine Division One's most unlikely title challenge.

Like his opposite number Kenny Dalglish, Hollins is a relative newcomer to football management but in many respects the initial stages of their journey into the great unknown are following strikingly similar patterns. Both have managed to carry the air of immense dignity they displayed on the playing field forward into the job; both err on the side of caution when potentially explosive situations arise. No unpleasant war of words for these two, just a refreshing "you saw it, you report it" type of attitude.

While he said he was bitterly disappointed that his men had picked up just one point for their sterling efforts on Saturday, Hollins, inevitably, remained philosophical. It is a measure of just how far Chelsea have come along under his calm guidance that he was found to be unhappy at all. Exactly how many opposition managers, I mused as I trudged homewards, will fell bitter after sharing the spoils at Anfield?

Far be it for me to actually nod my head in agreement with a southerner but the man did have a case. While appreciating that I must remain impartial at all times I confess here and now I would have felt a sense of acute guilt, shared I am sure by the more fair-minded Liverpool supporters, had Jan Molby's 86th minute steeled the destiny of the three points involved. 

While Chelsea were slightly fortunate in so much as they met Liverpool on one of those increasingly rare days when practically nothing was going right, I still felt they were tremendous. 

Making light of the absence of no fewer than four key men they refused to be intimidated by the infamous Anfield aura which so often lulls visitors into a false sense of despondency. They refused to play the sacrificial lamb; their application was near-faultless and their attitude brave and commendable.

Mind you, it is a very long time since Liverpool have looked, or even made to look, so ordinary. If there has been a game in which they gave away the ball more times than they did on Saturday I, thankfully, wasn't present. It seemed destined to be one of the season's more intriguing goalless draws until a suitably dramatic climax materialised out of thin air. With just five minutes remaining Mark Lawrenson strode forward manfully before punching the ball forward to the bounding figure of Ian Rush. Joe McLaughlin attempted to intercept but only succeeded in bundling the Welshman to the floor. That's the way referee Ashley saw it anyway. 

Molby did the rest, hammering the resulting spot-kick beyond Eddie Niedzwiecki. 

Justice was seen to be done three minutes later when, after Paul Walsh had somehow cleared a Doug Rougvie header off the line, Pat Nevin, the game's outstanding individual, smashed home from close range after Bruce Grobbelaar had gone walkabout in his six yard box. Funny game football.

Copyright - Daily Post

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