Fall River on Saturday clinched the championship honors in the American Soccer League when it defeated Bethlehem Steel on the latter's home grounds by a score of three goals to none. A tie with the locals would have done them as well, for the same afternoon New York was being handed a 1 to 0 defeat at Pawtucket by the J & P Coats eleven.
The New Englanders came to Bethlehem with blood in their eyes, determined to wipe out the humiliation of their 2 to 0 defeat in the American Cup game the previous Sunday. They brought with them a substantial following of rooters.
Though the weather was ideal, the intense rivalry between the two teams failed to attract as large a crowd as had been anticipated would be on hand to witness the battle, the attendance being estimated at about 1,200. Among them, however, was a staunch and loyal group of rooters, organized from the Main Office departments of the Steel Company and led by a cheer leader costumed as a circus clown from the bit tops, were continually in evidence, pleading for goals to even and reverse the score.
Though Bethlehem had by far the greater part of the game in the enemy's territory, the players were unable to place the ball in the net, shot after shot at the goal going high or wide. Kerr, however, had by no means the easiest assignment, being credited with numerous splendid saves of well directed boots. Highfield, in goal for Bethlehem, likewise had some fine saves to his credit and the shots which counted were well out of his reach.
Fryer, former New York Giant captain, was very much in evidence throughout the game, playing at left halfback. McGowan, whom he displaced more than made good at inside right where he replaced Reid. McKenna, Campbell, McPherson and the veteran Brittan were prominent in ever advance and always dangerous. Brittan breaking away to score twice during the second half.
Bethlehem used the same eleven which faced its rivals the previous Sunday, but was unable to break through the visitors' stonewall defense while the local backs frequently broke up threatened attacks on their citadel by the opposing forwards. Six corners were forced by Fall River while they conceded but four to Bethlehem, some of which figured in the scoring.
Bethlehem won he toss, Captain Carnihan electing to defend the west goal, with the sun and a slight breeze in his favor. The ball was quickly in Fall River territory and five minutes after play was called to save a header from W. Jackson following a pretty advance. Rattray's shot a moment later went past. Fall River attacked but Bethlehem soon returned, Kerr saving a shot from A. Jackson. Maxwell had a splendid opportunity on a pass from Robinson, but slipped, the ball going over.
Raeside and Brittan both missed tries at the net, Young conceding a corner when McKenna headed the ball against the uprights. Again Bethlehem made tracks for the Fall River goal but Kerr saved a hard try by Maxwell and W. Jackson headed the ball over the goal.
Fall River then pressed hard, Highfield making a pretty save of McKenna's drive but was obliged to concede a corner. Bethlehem won its first corner kick a moment later when Goldie crossed to W. Jackson, Tate clearing but miskicking. A second corner followed when Tate headed the b all over the goal. Fall River then returned to the attack and for a time Highfield was kept busy, Ferguson saving a hard drive when Highfield slipped and lost his footing. A moment later Young headed the ball out of danger with Highfield completely beaten.
Again the scene of action was transferred and Kerr in saving A. Jackson's drive was injured, Bethlehem winning a corner when the ball rolled out of his hands and over the line, but again without result. Fall River then gained possession and soon won its third corner, McPherson a moment later catching McKenna's beautiful cross and sending it into the corner of the net far out of reach of Highfield, three minutes before the half ended.
Fall River returned to the fray more determined than ever and soon won a corner but without avail. Bethlehem passed hard in an endeavor to equalize, Goldie sending a hard low drive from the left wing which went past by less than two feet. Fryer took a shot at goal and on a free kick from 20 yards out, Highfield making a brilliant save, McKenna finishing the attack by heading over the bar.
A. Jackson, Robertson and Maxwell sent well directed boots at Kerr, Robertson heading over a pretty cross from Goldie. Brittan had another try but hit the post, but about 20 minutes after the restart by a supreme effort caught McPherson's cross in front of goal and completely beat Highfield with Fall River's second point. Play alternated up and down the field for 20 minutes more before Campbell got a shot at Highfield. In his effort to save, Highfield fell, the ball rolling away Brittan dashing in and with the defense beaten, placed the ball in the net for the final score. Lineup:
Fall River -- Bethlehem
Kerr -- G -- Highfield
Tate -- RFB -- Young
Kemp -- LFB -- D. Ferguson
McPherson -- RHB -- McGregor
Raeside -- CHB -- Carnihan
Fryer -- LHB -- Robertson
Campbell -- OR -- A. Jackson
McGowan -- IR -- Rattray
Brittan -- CF -- W. Jackson
Morley -- IL -- Maxwell
McKenna -- OL -- Goldie
Goals: McPherson, Brittan 2. Referee: Cunningham, Brooklyn. Linesmen -- Favey and Nagel. Time of halves, 45 minutes.