The soccer inaugural in Bethlehem for the 1926-27 season was played on Monday afternoon, when two teams selected from among the squad signed by the Bethlehem Steel F. C. for this season clashed before a crowd of more than one thousand enthusiastic spectators on Lehigh Field, Elizabeth Avenue. The Blue defeated the White by the score of 5 to 2.
While an ideal Labor Day athletic attraction, one that could defy the threatening elements and be played regardless of weather conditions, the contest also served the purpose of introducing to the local patrons the half dozen or more new players who are aspiring to regular berths on the team. These newcomers were about equally divided on the respective teams, and with no exception acquitted themselves creditably.
To make critical comparisons now would be unfair to the new acquisitions. Most of them were playing their first game in this country and could hardly be expected to be acclimated to the brand of soccer dispensed in America. Then again, the environments were not such as they would have been had the opposition of the home club been a visiting aggregation. However, the game did serve a useful purpose in that the management had an opportunity of seeing the new men strut their stuff, an opportunity that will probably weigh heavy in the selection of the team to oppose Newark at the later place next Sunday in the first American Soccer League game.
The proceeds will go toward the proposed new swimming pool on the North Side, the game having been arranged for by the new Soccer Boosters' Club. These rooters were out in force to witness the game. The attendance was good considering the unpleasant weather.
In pairing the teams, Archie Stark and company, the company including the regular front liners of last season, were represented on the one side, while choice was given to keep the center halves intact in bolstering the defense and offense on the other team. The result was that against such a formidable halfback line comprising the crack trio of Messrs. Carnihan, MacGregor and Whitey McDonald, backed up on the defense by the dashing Billy Allen, and a most promising prospect in Jim Barrie, as backs the regular Steel forwards, including Rollo, Goldie, Granger and Jaap had plenty of work cut out for them . To further fortify the chances of the Blues against the unerring aim of Stark and company, Dave Edwards, first call custodian, was between the uprights. However, in spite of the seemingly impregnable defense, the forward line of the Whites slipped through and gave Edwards enough work to convince the Bethlehem rooters that in the former Scottish big leaguer, the team has a smart goalie and one that is going to be hard to beat. Edwards apparently knows his stuff, timing his advances from goal to clear to the second and is very neat in handling.
Twice Edwards was beaten, but just as often he saved brilliantly, once on one of Archie Stark's famous shots to the high corner of the net from far out. Stark managed to squeeze through one of the two goals scored by the Whites and on another the decision of Referee Williams might have been either way. However, the referee ruled no goal. The other goal came as the result of a penalty kick when Downey, police athlete, playing in goal for the Whites following up on his shot after Edwards had knocked it down and neatly place the ball in the corner of the net. Both of Stark's chances, one of which scored and the other saved, came after some neat work on the part of Johnny Granger. The inside right eluded the halfbacks, slipped the ball down the center and before Barrie or Allen could intercept, Stark met it with his boot.
Five times the ball was crashed past Downey, notching goals for the Blues, but Downey was not receiving the defensive support Edwards got from his backs. Twice the ball was fairly walked in after the backs were tricked and there was little chance for Downey to save on shots from close range.
The game was started on a field heavy from recent rains, but in spite of the elements, was in fairly good condition. However, before the half ended, rain began to fall and for a time came down in torrents. There was a let up of the showers during part of the second half, but just as the final whistle sounded another one broke. The lineup:
Whites -- Blue
Downey -- G -- Edwards
Eadie -- RFB -- Barrie
Ferguson -- LFB -- Allen
Raeside -- RHB -- McDonald
Rankin -- CHB -- Carnihan
Horning -- LHB -- MacGregor
Jaap -- OR -- Gillespie
Granger -- IR -- Smith
Stark -- CF -- Whyte
Rollo -- IL -- Purvis
Goldie -- OL -- Robertson
Goals: Whyte 3, Smith 2, Gillespie Stark, Downey. Substitutions: L. Smith for Ferguson. Referee: Horace Williams. Time of halves, 45 minutes.