Everton 2 – 1 Accrington Stanley

8th September 1888 – Everton 2 Accrington 1

With only 5000 expected at Everton’s first game in the newly formed Football League having been beaten by fierce local rivals Bootle only seven days previously, it was a pleasant surprise when over twice that amount made their way to Anfield for this historic fixture.

Anfield was the setting and the weather was perfect for the game, which eventually kicked off 20 minutes late. Unfortunately Accrington had lost their way to the ground and so the first Football League game Everton ever played was a late kick off, but this time it was nothing to do with television!

The visitors won the toss and surprisingly opted to kick into the sun. Everton applied all the early pressure to the visitor’s goal with Farmer producing a fierce drive, which the Accrington keeper could only push around the post to concede a corner. Unfortunately for the Blues they were unable to profit from the ensuing kick.

Accrington’s best chance came against the run of play when, midway through the first half, a huge clearance by Horne was headed against the Everton crossbar by Holden. Everton were having more possession with both Lewis and Dobson going close for the home side. However Chadwick should have put the Blues one up when he had a golden opportunity but failed to convert.

Accrington were a different proposition in the second half when Everton were forced to kick into the sun. Holden was the man causing problems for the Blues as the visitors pushed forward in great numbers taking the game to their Merseyside opponents. And it was Holden who should have opened the scoring but he put his chance just wide.

The deadlock was finally broken after 60 minutes by the Toffees when Horne conceded a corner on the left. Some good approach play by Ross, Waugh saw Farmer freed on the touchline. His cross was met perfectly by Fleming who headed the ball firmly into the bottom corner. The crowd were ecstatic and a huge roar went up.

Accrington were almost level within seconds of the re-start when Kirkham saw his effort cleared off the line by Everton defender Lewis, with goalkeeper Smalley well beaten.

Everton almost assured themselves of victory however, quarter of an hour from time when an injury to the Accrington keeper, Horne, saw him have to leave the field of play. Chadwick rose to meet a Waugh cross and Horne collided with the big forward before falling t the turf clutching his chest.

It turned out that Horne had fractured a rib and he was carried off in extreme pain to be replaced in goal by defender McLennan. With substitutes being years away from being introduced the visitors were forced to play out the remainder of the game with 10 men.

Within 2 minutes the Anfield side had made their numerical advantage tell as Fleming swept home a Farmer cross past the stand in keeper. Accrington did manage to grab a consolation goal just before the end with Holden registering for the visitors. In fact, only some inspired keeping by Smalley in the dying seconds prevented Accrington from taking an underserved point as he clawed away a dipping Holden volley.

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