Before a record-breaking crowd of nearly 10,000 fans, the Bethlehem Steel Company soccer team won back the national challenge cup at Harrison, N. J., yesterday afternoon by defeating the Fall River Rovers, 3 to 0, in the final tie for the trophy. The visitors outplayed their rivals at every stage of the game, scoring two goals in the first period and the third and final count after the teams had been battling thirty minutes in the second period.
Soccer fans from as far west as Pittsburgh witnessed the contest. Bethlehem had a good following, while the Rovers always a favorite in the New York district, were given lots of encouragement. Tommy Swords, the Rover player of international fame and hero of last year's final, was well taken care of by Bethlehem and was unable to produce anything sensational.
The Rovers made the trip determined to emerge victorious no matter what tactics they employed on the field and as a result it was one of the roughest played matches seen in years. Throughout the game they were continually cautioned by the referee, resorting to the same style of play that earned them a tie in a previous match staged in New England territory several weeks ago, where the referee's warning counted for naught. Capt. Swords was one of the worst offenders in this respect, which had the effect of spoiling his usual brilliant game. Not only did the Rovers put a lot of dash in their play, but made the serious mistake of also trying to get the man at the same time. As a result, the team became demoralized at the start and made only one or two good attempts to score in the last minutes of play.
The local team, on the other hand, played like a winning team from the start, resorting to the scientific side of the game and conducting themselves in the same manner pursued ever since soccer was established as a sport at the Steel Works and has made them favorites wherever they have appeared. There was not a weak link in the whole machine, while every player seemed to have a clear understanding with his conferee, with the result that when a player made a mistake or he was closely pressed, there was always a Bethlehem player to back up his teammate.
Fall River kicked off against the sun and immediately got the ball into the Steel Workers' territory. Bethlehem worked the ball down the field and Beardsworth fouled Ratican outside the penalty area. Clever play by Fleming resulted in the first corner being obtained, from which Pepper headed the ball past the goal post. Bethlehem pressed hard and Ratican looked certain to score, but Albin ran out and cleared. Fleming forced another corner off Booth and again the Rovers' goal just escaped. A few minutes later the outside left put over a splendid pass, which Murphy picked up and crashed the ball at Albin at short range, but the latter brought off a marvelous save.
After 30 minutes of play, Ratican obtained possession of the ball for a long punt by Ferguson and scored. The cheering had hardly died away when C. Burns handled the ball in the penalty area. Fleming took the kick, but Albin saved and from the rebound Pepper scored the second goal. Bethlehem forced two more corners in quick succession, but both were cleared. Half time arrived with the score Bethlehem 2, Fall River Rovers, 0.
After the interval the play became very rough through the Rovers making desperate efforts to reduce the lead but Referee Creighton held the players in check. Swords made a vicious charge at Duncan, which laid the goalie out for a few minutes. Bethlehem continued to monopolize the play, Albin having his hands full. Fleming missed an open goal, the ball being well placed for the outside left.
Tommy Swords came into the limelight with a brilliant run down the field, but Fletcher stopped him before becoming dangerous. Fleming executed a fine run down the touchline and crossed the ball to Ratican who had no difficulty in adding the third goal 30 minutes after the resumption.
Fall River obtained their first corner in the game eight minutes from the end of play but the ball was kicked over the goal. The Rovers had more of the play and forced another corner, which was also centered behind goal. Swords had his only chance to score toward the close of the game, but shot into Duncan and he easily cleared.
Bethlehem -- Fall River Rovers
Duncan -- G -- Albin
Fletcher -- RFB -- Boot
Ferguson -- LFB -- C. Burns
Murray -- RHB -- F. Burns
Campbell -- CHB -- Beardsworth
Kirkpatrick -- LHB -- Clarke
Murphy -- OR -- Morgan
Pepper -- IR -- Sullivan
Ratican -- CF -- Landy
Forrest -- IL -- Swords
Fleming -- OL -- Smith
Referee -- C. E. Creighton, New York. Linesmen -- Joe Booth, Bridgeport; Samuel McLerie, Boston. Goals -- For Bethlehem, Ratican 2; Pepper. Time of halves -- 45 minutes.