A speedy shot coming off the boot of Archie Stark, the ball grazing the fingers of the outstretched reach of the tall and rangy Reder, the visitors' custodian, and slightly deflected upwards in its course to crash against the crossbar and drop to the feet of the goalie from where it was cleared, was the scant margin by which the Bethlehem soccer team was denied victory in the torrid scrap against Fall River on Saturday afternoon.
Bethlehem outplayed the Marksmen, a characteristic not unusual, but failing in its purpose, unleashing one of the most tense and determined belated rallies ever witnessed on the home field. And yet, in spite of this sustained bombardment in which the visitors' rigging was the target of a virtual barrage, the final whistle found the numerals at one goal each, the second draw game in the last two meetings.
Once each was the of the rival foemen penetrated, Stark with a most brilliant effort putting his mates into the lead with a seemingly impossible shot early in the game and when that one goal seemed a safe margin for the half, Gonsalves, the 19-year-old Portuguese, knotted the count with a terrific drive hardly more than three minutes before the final whistle.
Fall River presented a big and robust eleven, including McPherson, as really the only veteran of the Marksmen of past seasons. Speed, stamina and brawn was bridled in the sturdy physique of the revamped eleven, and each used to good advantage.
Bethlehem was slightly handicapped on the forward line owing to the absence of Alec Dick, and while Johnny Rollo, who played the position, is a veteran of the home club, it was plainly evident that in returning after a long siege of injury, he had not developed his usual stride. One of his free kicks, scarcely out of the penalty area and which threatened disaster, never reach the point or anywhere near to where it was intended, swerving over the goal line behind the net. Later a corner traveled the same course, which is something very rare when this player is in form.
Then, too, "Big Bill" Finlayson, a sterling back when right, had the misfortune to experience severe injury when he landed heavily on the turf early in the game but continued until will in the second half when he was removed in favor of Gibson. After his spill his side was the target of the Fall River breakaways, usually initiated by the speedy "Tec" White.
Fall River kicked off with a mild breeze to its back and at the very start lost out on a golden opportunity when Patenaude, the young and speedy French center forward, was through and shooting from close range made a miserable mess with a wide shot.
Bethlehem's hopes of victory were visioned early for, after less than five minutes after the start the team was one goal up. On a cleverly maneuvered breakaway Gillespie whipped the ball across the goal mouth. Danger seemed averted for the visitors when the ball appeared to be going across the goal line. Stark dashing virtually took it off the goal line with left foot and had just enough swerve to beat Reder in rolling it into the net.
From then on the ball swung frequently from one end of the field to the other with Fall River having, if anything, just a little bit the best of the tussle. Frequently were the attacks in which the visitors were swarming in Bethlehem territory and so determined was the attack that the homesters were forced to concede no less than seven corners. Three of these followed well-placed kicks from the flag and on which corners were given in clearing. Then came the break on which Fall River profited. Down the wing sped White, a bundle of speed, seemingly intent on taking the shot. Bethlehem's defense closed in upon him with a pass to center went to Gonsalves, whose rifle shot would have beaten a half dozen goalies. The score was tied and remained so up to the end of the half.
The home team did not win but in a most impressive manner convinced the fans and sent them home satisfied that on the play o the day Bethlehem was better than the undefeated league leaders. The fans were treated to a game played as it should be played and by the two best teams in the country. The lineup:
Fall River -- Bethlehem
Reder -- G -- Fraser
McGill -- RFB -- McGregor
R. McAuley -- LFB -- Finlayson
McPherson -- RHB -- Reid
Priestly -- CHB -- Carnihan
Ballantyne -- LHB -- Pitt
McNabb -- OR -- Gillespie
Gonsalves -- IR -- Jaap
Patenaude -- CF -- Stark
J. McAuley -- IL -- Massie
White -- OL -- Rollo
Goals, Stark, Gonsalves. Substitutions: Meilson for McNabb, Gibson for Finlayson. Referee, George Young, Philadelphia. Linesmen, J. H. Carpenter and W. Forrest. Time of halves, 45 minutes.
Fifteen hundred fans braved the inclement weather to witness the hair raising battle for league points on the Polo Grounds. The ground was in bad shape due to the rain but a great game resulted with the issue in doubt right up to the final whistle.
At half time the score was 1 to 1, but Bethlehem forged in front soon after resuming. The Nationals soon got even and went in front to stay there to the end.
The Nationals got off the mark at a fast clip and were soon swarming around Bethlehem's goal. A wicked shot from Nelson was followed with another by Slaven, but Fraser grabbed the slippery ball and cleared well.
After a visit to the other end the Nationals were soon attacking again, and in a mix-up Gibson handled in the penalty area from which Warden scored the first goal from the spot kick. The time was fifteen minutes.
This reverse stung the steel workers badly and they drove down with several stinging attacks which called for the best efforts of Souza, but he was equal to all calls made upon him.
Up and down the field the ball went like lightening, with both goals having several close calls, but at thirty minutes Archie Stark scored from close in to knot the count. From then until half time it was a thrilling battle to get in front with Bethlehem doing the pressing, but the teams were still deadlocked, 1 to 1 at the interval.
One minute after resuming Stark put Bethlehem in the lead with a great shot, but the Polo Grounders were not late in catching up. Martyn fed the ball up with a long put, and Nelson clever trapped it to draw Fraser, due to a misunderstanding with his backs out of position and the rest was easy.
The Nationals now stirred things up and knocked the Bethlehem defense backward with a series of savage assaults which resulted in two more goals being scored by Gallagher to make the count 4 to 2.
Bethlehem now took a turn with a vicious rally which had t heir rivals defending desperately. Gillespie sent in a long shot at Souza, and an exciting scrambled occurred just outside the goal. Stark managed to get his feet to the leather to cut down the lead.
The excitement was kept up to the final kick of the game when the steel workers had their last great chance to draw level from a corner, but the whistle blew as the ball soared across the goal mouth, a great battle ending in the Nationals' favor by 4 to 3.
N. Y. Nationals -- Bethlehem
Souza -- G -- Fraser
Warden -- RFB -- Gibson
Donald -- LFB -- McGregor
Wegner -- RHB -- Reid
Chatton -- CHB -- Carnihan
Martyn -- LHB -- Pitt
Gallagher -- OR -- Gillespie
Slaven -- IR -- Jaap
Nelson -- CF -- Stark
Ozores - -IL -- Massie
McGhee -- OL -- Rollo
Referee -- E. McCabe. Linesmen -- W. Murray and P. J. McGlove.
Goals scored for Nationals -- by Gallagher 2, Warden, Nelson; for Bethlehem -- by Stark 2.