WEDNESDAY 21ST SEPTEMBER, 1955
LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT ST ANDREWS, BIRMINGHAM
BIRMINGHAM CITY 2 (Brown, Astall) ASTON VILLA 2 (Merrick og, Baxter)
Merrick; Hall, Badham; Boyd (capt), Smith, Warhurst;
Astall, Kinsey, Brown, Murphy, Govan;
Jones; Lynn, Aldis; Baxter, Martin, Crowe;
Southren, Dixon, Hickson, Moss (A), McParland;
Referee:- H.J. Husband, London
This was a very entertaining game, much better than the goal less draw at Villa Park earlier in the season. The excitement started after twenty one minutes when Badham took the ball upfield before passing down the wing to Govan, who sent a very hard cross across goal which Jones seemed to be waiting for, but suddenly centre forward Eddie Brown dashed in and jumped to head the ball into the net like a rocket. After a recent spell of missed chances Brown was so delighted he did another, even higher, leap in the air.
Immediately afterwards Murphy drew Martin and pushed the ball through to Brown, who with only Jones to beat, pushed the ball against the post. Villa retaliated strongly and McParland running at full speed forced Merrick to push his header over the bar. Then a minute before half time, Villa equalised with an extraordinary goal. McParland squared the ball to Southren whose low shot beat Merrick's dive and hit the post. The ball rebounded, hit Merrick's back and rolled slowly into the net. Half time 1-1.
In the sixty seventh minute Birmingham once more went ahead. Govan lobbed the ball to Murphy, who hooked it upwards, Martin slipped as he nodded the ball only to Astall who volleyed the ball past Jones. It was only two minutes later when Villa equalised again, Southren took the ball down the right and swung across a low centre before Badham tackled him, Baxter running in hit the ball first time into the net from twelve yards.
Villa do not seem to be able to get their formation right, Dave Hickson, the recent signing from Everton, does not yet fit into the team's style of play and Amos Moss, although showing some nice touches, is not the answer to the inside forward problem.
SATURDAY 24TH SEPTEMBER, 1955
LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT VILLA PARK, BIRMINGHAM
ASTON VILLA 0 BOLTON WANDERERS 2 (Lofthouse 2)
Jones; Lynnk Aldis; Baxter, Martin, Crowe;
Southren, Dixon, Hickson, Moss (A), McParland;
Grieves; Hartle, Banks; Wheeler, Barrass, Edwards;
Holden, Stevens, Lofthouse, Parry, Birch;
Refereree:- F.B. Coultas, Hull
Bolton brought in 17 year old Brian Birch, whose only previous appearance was against Villa on September 25th at Bolton. Soon after the start the referee went lame, after attention from both trainers he carried on for a few seconds before going off. Linesman E.G. Finning took over with Bolton's 12th man, Eric Oldham, running the line.
Parry was soon prominent in early Bolton raids. Dixon sent two defenders the wrong way, but delayed his shot and the chance was gone. From a Southren corner Moss got in a fine header which went just wide.
After twenty three minutes Birch passed to Parry who had moved out to the wing, Lofthouse rose high above two Villa defenders to head his centre into the net.
The referee returned to run the line mid-way through the first half. McParland came nearest to scoring for Villa, goalkeeper Grieves, the Lancashire cricketer, watching the ball thinking it was going wide, but to his surprise it hit the post. Then Jones made a terrific save from another Lofthouse header.
Mr Coultas, the referee, resumed his duties in the second half. Villa's forwards were very disappointing, hardly anything went right for them. After seventy four minutes Bolton clinched the match, when Stevens, who was always prominent, took a pass from Holden, ran along the bye line, before lobbing it across for Lofthouse to go down and head it in for another splendid goal.
It was a tale of two centre forwards, one who can't score a goal (Hickson) and another who can't stop scoring (Lofthouse).
SATURDAY 8TH OCTOBER 1955
LEAGUE DIVISION THREE SOUTH AT FELLOWS PARK, WALSALL
WALSALL 2 (Love 2) NORWICH CITY 0
Chilvers; Haddington, Vinall; Dorman (capt), McPherson, Crook;
Morris, Dews, Richards, Love, McLaren;
Oxford; McCrohan, Norman; Pickwick, Foulkes, Ashman (capt);
Chung, Gordon, Hunt, Brennan, Coxon;
Referee:- Mr Alf Bond, London
Walsall were back in their usual precarious position next to bottom of the league. After thirteen games they had won only two, with three draws and eight defeats. Only Swindon Town were below them. Visitors Norwich had former Walsall centre-half Reg Foulkes, a great favourite at Fellows Park, and Irish international Bobby Brennan, ex-Fulham, at inside left. Walsall tried a new look forward line with former Plymouth man, and Worcestershire cricketer, George Dews at inside right and the former Forest pair, John Love and Hugh McLaren former the left wing partnership.
Dorman was obviously going to give the lively Morris a lot of the ball and the winger made the most of it.
Following a throw in Morris sent over a perfect centre and Love, waiting near the far post, dived full length to head the first goal. Dews had a good chance for Walsall but shot straight at Oxford, who then dived at Richards' feet to save a certain goal - injuring himself in the process.
It was all Walsall up to the interval, Chilvers only having to save one header from Hunt. Dorman beat two men and got in a fierce shot with his left foot when tackled by a third defender, but Oxford again went full length to save. Half time 1-0.
Norwich forced two quick corners at the start of the second half, the first was headed off the line by Haddington, who was doing very well as Guttridge's deputy, and from the second Chilvers saved a header by Gordon. McPherson on his return to the team following injury gave a great display and Vinall
After Richards headed the ball down Dews shot against Oxford as he advanced. Then after seventy six minutes, Vinall took a free kick which landed in a group of players just inside the area. It was partially cleared, but Love pounced on the ball and hooked it high into the corner of the net. Finally Richards headed against the bar and Love with a hat trick beckoning shot over from point blank range. Nevertheless an excellent two points for the Saddlers.
SATURDAY 15TH OCTOBER, 1955
LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT VILLA PARK, BIRMINGHAM
ASTON VILLA 4 (Dixon 2, Hickson, Saward)
Jones; Lynn, Aldis; Crowe, Moss (A) capt, Baxter;
Southren, Dixon, Hickson, Saward, McParland;
MANCHESTER UNITED 4 (Blanchflower, Webster, Pegg 2)
Wood; Foulkes, Byrne (capt); Whitefoot, Jones, McGuiness;
Berry, Blancflower (J), Taylor, Webster, Pegg;
Referee:- Mr. G. McCabe, Sheffield
Villa, whose forwards had not scored a goal since the first minute of their game with Huddersfield Town on September 3rd, introduced Pat Saward, a summer signing from Milwall, at inside left. This was Dave Hickson's eighth game for Villa since being signed from Everton and he had not yet scored for them. Villa are struggling near the bottom of the league table with only eight points from twelve games, whereas United are joint top with fifteen points together with Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion. Villa lost 1-0 away to neighbours Albion and this was their third defeat in a row.
United had a great 4-3 win over Wolves last week in which centre half Mark Jones came upfield to head the winning goal in the very last minute. They continued with 17 year old schoolboy international Wilf McGuiness at left half as deputy for Duncan Edwards.
McParland raced down the centre of the field in Villa's first attack but was easily stopped by Mark Jones. Then United got going. Taylor, lying deep in the inside left position, found Berry out on the right wing. He lost it but Pegg, who had moved over to the right, regained possession and lobbed it into the middle. Keith Jones, the Villa goalkeeper, could only push the ball out to Jackie Blanchflower who shot first time, just as he was tackled, and the ball went narrowly over the bar. A delightful movement.
Another right wing attack had Villa in trouble again, the ball ran to Webster who shot past Jones as he came out, Lynn then kicked off the line but only straight to Pegg, who crossed to Berry and the the former Blues man shot wide. Following this period of United pressure Villa broke away and scored! Crowe brought the ball down the right wing and then pushed a perfect pass through for Dixon to take in his stride and hit a glorious shot into the far corner of the net after just sixteen minutes play.
Johnny Dixon scores Villa's first goal from two different angles.
Two minutes later United reduced the Villa lead. The Villa defence appeared to have cleared the ball when Blanchflower suddenly ran onto it about thirty yards out and hit a low hard shot past Keith Jones. With still only half an hour gone United were level. Taylor sent a long pass from just inside the Villa half out to Berry, on the right and the little winger worked his way through the middle, evading tackles with amazing ease and pushed a delightful through pass to Webster who ran on and crashed it into the net. 2-2.
Soon afterwards Webster went off the field to receive attention to a leg injury. While he was off Berry again dribbled through the centre this time drawing Lynn out of position before giving the ball to the unmarked Pegg for him to drive it right footed into the net. So after being two goals down United now led 3-2. Webster returned at outside left until half time allowing David Pegg to wander over to the right where he dribbled along the goal line and then Keith Jones pushed it out straight to Taylor, who amazingly lifted it over the bar from five yards out. Half time 2-3.
Pegg, who was always in the game, gave Webster a glorious chance from close range but he too unaccountably skied the ball yards over the bar. Villa came a little more into the game and were being brilliantly prompted by the two wing halves Crowe and Baxter. Saward went through the middle and put the ball in the net, but was adjudged to have fouled a defender. The referee ordered the free kick to be retaken a few yards further back and goalkeeper Wood side footed the ball to Roger Byrne standing just outside the penalty area. Instead of giving the ball back to his goalkeeper as expected, Byrne advanced upfield for a few yards before hitting a very long ball down the left wing perfectly placed for Pegg to outpace the defence and shoot into the far corner of the net. A really grand goal and so simply executed. So after fifty four minutes United now deservedly led 4-2.
Six minutes late in this all action game Villa started their fight back. Dixon raced down the right, crossed to McParland whose shot was pushed out by Wood, but Hickson running in at speed slammed it into the roof of the net via the underside of the crossbar. A great cheer greeted the centre forward's first ever goal for Villa which had taken so long to come/
An even greater roar greeted Villa's equaliser four minutes later. Dixon pushed the ball out to Southren and the winger's centre was turned into the net by Saward standing by the far post. 4-4 and Villa were now going all out for the winner. Wood couldn't quite reach a Dixon cross and Hickson headed towards the empty goal. He was already turning to receive his colleagues congratulations for the winning goal, when Saward suddenly dived full length and headed the ball wide of the post in trying to make sure!
Hickson by now in full cry sent in a magnificent drive which was brilliantly saved on the line by Ray Wood just before the end of an action packed game. So it ended all square. Any other result would have been unfair to two teams who gave a really memorable performance.