Accorded a most welcome reception, the Bethlehem soccer team made its first appearance in the New England sector since the outbreak of the soccer controversy on Sunday afternoon and lost to New Bedford, playing its first game under the colors of the Eastern Soccer League, by the score of 2 to 1.
Close to four thousand soccer fans, the biggest crowd to turn out this season, welcomed the Steel men and apparently by this big attendance and spontaneous plaudits sentiment of soccer followers was in harmony with the New Bedford management in severing its relations with the outlaw league to again play within the organized ranks.
Bethlehem lost the game but the numerals in no manner describe the run of the game. To Tom Blair, the homesters goalie, the New Bedford fans have to extend their appreciation and congratulations for the victory for no goalie ever played a more phenomenal defensive game than this brilliant custodian. Time and again he stopped a barrage of well labeled shots when scoring seemed inevitable. He amazed with his daring, taking all sorts of chances to throw himself headlong at the ball in his brilliant efforts of saving.
A strong wind swept the field but in spite of this advantage Bethlehem on the run of the game had the preponderance of the play in both halves. Attacking vigorously the Bethlehem forwards frequently swarmed around the visitors goal, breaking through the defense to close quarters, but there found Blair a concrete barrier to their parting shots.
Any doubt that might have existed relative to inferior merit in the ranks of the new Eastern League and an opinion probably entertained by many of the Down East enthusiasts was quickly dispensed after the game. One amazing feature was the lack of stamina evident among the players of the former American Soccer League club, heralded as one of the best in that section, and another the crudeness of their play at times.
However, New Bedford managed to administer Bethlehems first defeat in the second half season of campaigning, a defeat that might be attributed exclusive to the sensational work of Blair and two costly errors of omission on the part of the Bethlehem defense.
New Bedford scored first when Marshall retrieving the ball tried to keep it into play when it was going for a bye kick. His effort was a miskick against the wind, sending the sphere spinning to the toe of Florey, the sturdy New Bedford Italian, who seized the opportunity by placing it well out of the reach of Beveridge. Again in the second half Florey took advantage of a misunderstanding in the Bethlehem defense and scored.
The lone marker for the invading booters came midway in the second half when Archie Stark scored on a breakaway down the center. Bethlehem continued the attack right up to the very end but Blair was equal to the occasion and no further scoring resulted.
Bill Carnihan, Bethlehem center halfback, playing his first game since his siege of illness, played well but it was plainly evident that he had not reached the peak of form displayed before he was indisposed.
The Bethlehem lineup had Walter Jackson, former local player, doing duty at outside left. He remained at that position until Tommy Gillespie, wing forward, dislocated his forearm in an unavoidable collision. Rollo was injected into the left wing and Jackson assigned left halfback, a position he was recently converted to lay as a member of the Philadelphia Cents. The lineup:
Bethlehem New Bedford
Beveridge G Blair
Marshall RFB McMillan
Allan LFB Hunter
Reid RHB Pitt
Carnihan CHB Montgomery
Maxwell LHB Steward
Gillespie OR Chedzoy
Jaap IR McLeavy
Stark CF Florey
Massie IL -- Howieson
Jackson OL Best
Goals: Florey 2, Stark. Referee: McCabe. Time of halves, 45 minutes.