by Fred S. Nonnemacher
It required a long time experimenting but the Bethlehem F. C. apparently has found itself. This was indicated on Steel Field, on Saturday afternoon, when the Blue and White players assumed the lead in the American Soccer League at the expense of Fall River, dislodging the New England exponents with their bevy of former Bethlehem celebrities from the topmost perch. The final score was 3 goals to 2, Bethlehem launching a determined attack after the visitors assumed a one-point lead, counting the equalizer and then to the closing stages of the contest, registered the winning tally.
All three goals came from the accurate heading of McNiven, the Bethlehem center forward. He showed a marked improvement over his early season form, thrice placing the ball into the net. On several other occasions he was dangerous but brilliant work by Whalen, the elongated Fall River goalie, frustrated further success.
McNiven, however, was by no means the only star of the game. For Bethlehem Davy Ferguson proved a dower of strength on the defensive, aided materially by Carnihan, the big black-haired center half who is a recent acquisition to the club. With the Fall River forwards reputed as probably the most dangerous in the country, these two backs simply outdid themselves in checking their efforts and acquitted themselves in excellent style.
Harold Brittan, the phenomenal center forward, and Fred Pepper, a veteran of the sport, were the only two former Bethlehemites to start against their former teammates. For some reason or other Bill Collier, who accompanied the team, remained in "civies," resting up for the game which was scheduled in New York for Sunday. However, while the team was here word was received that the field was not cleared and the game would be impossible. Bob Millar was another absentee in the Fall River ranks and concerning him it was learned that the old St. Louis player had been released earlier in the week.
Harold Brittan, former Bethlehem center forward, was the cog around which the visitors' offense was developed, and when he was carefully taken care of much of the scoring effectiveness of the Fall River clan was lost. However, Brittan did manage to squeak one into the goal and it was a pretty shot that counted the tally which, for the time being, gave his teammates the lead. Early in the game Brittan was located in close range for a chance which seemed certain to materialize but it was the dashing Davy Ferguson who closed in and took the ball before Brittan could let drive with one of his smashing shots.
With field conditions ideal, for they really were and gave evidence of strenuous efforts during the week in clearing away the snow, the game was one of the cleverest displays of soccer seen here this season. The playing pitch was dry but the turf a trifle slippery which, however, failed to impede to any great degree the footwork of the respective clans. At no time did the contest border on the rough, all of the players centering their efforts in outshining the prowess of their rivals.
It looked very much like Fall River in the early part of the game, even through McNiven did count the first goal. But at the finish Bethlehem executed one of the most vicious attacks ever seen and fairly swept the visitors off their feet. This offensive was carried on almost continuously for three quarters of the final half and it was only on an occasional spurt that Fall River carried the ball into Bethlehem territory.
There was no fusillade of shots raining at either of the goals, but those that were started in the direction of the net were usually well placed and accurate and required the utmost skill on the part of the goalies to prevent counting. Both Whalen, for the visitors, and Kerr, for the home clan, featured in clearing but it was indirectly due to the effort of the former on a corner kick that Bethlehem tallied the opening goal.
The half ended with the score tied at one goal each. The lineup:
Bethlehem -- Fall River
Kerr -- G -- Whalen
Young -- RFB -- Tate
Ferguson -- LFB -- Kemp
McFarlane -- RHB -- Dalrymple
Carnihan -- CHB -- Orr
Terris -- LHB -- Pepper
Campbell -- OR -- Woertex
Rattray -- IR -- Reid
McNiven -- CF -- Brittan
Grainger -- IL -- McCort
Goldie -- OR -- Quinn
Goals: Reid, Brittan, McNiven 3. Referee, George Young, Philadelphia. Linesmen, J. H. Carpenter and Horace Williams. Time of halves, 45 minutes.