Displaying a brand of soccer amazing under the conditions, Bethlehem Steel, national champions, captured the two points in the American Soccer League race on Lehigh Field on Saturday afternoon by defeating a snappy and aggressive Brooklyn aggregation, 4 to 2. The game was replete with thrills and pretty playing from start to finish. The several stars from the Hakoah team were no bar to the great display of the local team.
By winning, Bethlehem’s standing as the league leading club was not impaired, but the triumph was not without its cost, for in the closing minutes of play, the jinx which has been trailing the club for the last several weeks, was very much in evidence. Stark, who had performed brilliantly, was carried off the field with a badly injured knee. Just how severe the injury is will not be determined for several days.
His injury was the result of self sacrifice, by which he averted what might have been a more severe casualty to Mahrer, a Brooklyn halfback, although he himself might have escaped unscratched. Both players were after the ball, Stark reaching it first and was poised for a kick, when Mahrer, a victim of the treacherous underfooting slipped and went diving headlong in the path of Stark’s boot. Sensing what the result might be if his heavy boot collided with Mahrer’s head, Stark dropped and instead of his boot it was his knee that collided with the Brooklyn player’s head.
Play was temporarily halted while treatment was ministered, after which Stark was assisted off the field. A short time later Mahrer, who tired to continue with an ugly gash in his scalp, was forced to retire. This casualty came at the close of a hard and well played game and the only serious injury in spite of the many spills the players took.
The field had been cleared of snow, but little ice patches dotted the playing pitch, contributing to the treacherous footing. In spite of the dangerous turf, the ball control and manipulation was marvelous and the game teemed with thrills and fast playing from start to finish. While Bethlehem emerged triumphant, Brooklyn was always dangerous and the result was uncertain until the closing minute. Fighting an uphill battle, in which Bethlehem lead throughout the visitors never once let up in their determination, but seemed to fight the harder as the game progressed.
Bethlehem had many stars on the field, but outstanding was the work of Stark and Jaap on the forward line and that of Carnihan at center halfback. Stark, who had been out of the game for several weeks by illness, had seemingly struck his stride and his one solo effort, which resulted in a score by Gillespie, and a goal from a difficult angle, stamped him as the great player he is. Little Johnny Jaap was apparently at home on the slippery footing and contributed to three of the four goals scored by Bethlehem. On the defense, it was Carnihan who broke up many threatening movements and was a continual source of terror to the visiting forwards.
Brooklyn, too, had its stars, of which Yule, who notched both counters for his team, had the honor of twice beating Edwards, a feat rather unusual. Nelson and Hoar were also dangerous on the Brooklyn front line, while Drucker, at center halfback, and Wilson, left back, were very much in evidence throughout the game.
At times the contest waged hot and many free kicks were awarded, but this was inspired by the closeness of the score rather than any intention or deliberate fouling. Stark and Gillespie shared in the scoring honors for Bethlehem, each with two to his credit.
At half time Bethlehem was leading 2 to 0, but while Brooklyn was held scoreless Edwards was tested on more than one occasion, saving once on a terrific drive from Nelson. After ten minutes Bethlehem took the lead after Fletcher had saved on a header from Gillespie and a drive from Forrest. On two other opportunities Forrest lifted over the cross bar. The elusive Jaap finally brought the ball down the right wing and centered perfectly to the goal mouth. Fischer came out to save but Gillespie beat him with his header and the ball lopped into the net. Following this score Brooklyn rallied and repeated raids forced Edwards to handle frequently before the pressure was relieved and Bethlehem was again attacking.
The second score dame with ten minutes more of the half to be played, quite unexpectedly to fans and players. It was Jaap who was prominent in the breakaway advancing the ball to the vicinity of the goal, where players of both teams were massed. A low pass, barely discernable to the spectators, landed at the toe of Stark, who shot from in the midst of the group. With the speed of a bullet it went true to the mark and so unexpectedly that Fischer never made an attempt to save. The half ended with Bethlehem leading, 2 to 0.
The restart saw one change in the Bethlehem lineup. Billy Allen, plying his first game since injured, retired and was replaced by the veteran Jock Ferguson, a fullback. Two up, Bethlehem seemed inclined to be a bit careless but woke up shortly after play had been started when Brooklyn broke into the picture as a dangerous contender on a shot from Yule, partly intercepted by Edwards but which rolled into the net. The score gave the visitors a new lease of life and play was waged with a greater determination. Both ends of the field witnessed some stirring raids, but it was not until fifteen minutes later that any of these proved productive. Finally, it was Bethlehem that again increased its lead to a two goal margin on one of the traditional Stark shots. Stark, Jaap and Gillespie contributed a pretty movement down the field, Jaap working to the inside position with Stark moving out to the extreme right. Fifteen feet out and at a direct angle with the goal mouth, Stark made a seemingly impossible try for goal, with Fischer directly in the path of the ball. However, by some peculiar twist the ball caromed past Fischer and landed in the far corner.
Bethlehem’s two goal lead was by no means safe and was demonstrated almost immediately after the kickoff, when the visitors boosted their tally. McDonald erred for an instant when he left Yule free at outside left, to mix up in the play more in the center. The ball was flicked to Yule and the latter with plenty of time, beat Edwards with a shot. Again Brooklyn pressed and before it was relieved, forced two corners, none of which was productive.
Bethlehem’s final goal came with ten minutes more to play and was directly due to a solo effort on the part of the dashing Stark. From midfield he dribbled towards his goal, following through with deft and well timed touches to trickle through the entire visitors’ defense. However, when the ball had nearly reached the touchline, his final effort was a neat pass to Gillespie directly at the goal mouth and the Bethlehem center forward had nothing to do but shove it into the net, with Fischer out of his position.
Brooklyn then made a valiant effort to score but found a concrete defense. It was not long afterward that Stark and Mahrer figured in their collision and two minutes later the game ended with Bethlehem the victor. The game was the second meeting between the two teams. In the first game at Brooklyn the teams shared the points in a two-goal draw. The Brooklyn players impressed with their speed and daring, the front liners particularly with their accurate and quick shooting for goal.
Brooklyn -- Bethlehem
Fischer – G -- Edwards
Groscz – RFB -- Eadie
Wilson – LFB -- Allen
Mahrer – RHB – McDonald
Drucker – CHB -- Carnihan
Morris – LHB -- MacGregor
Hoar – OR -- Jaap
Lyel – IR -- Stark
Nelson – CF – Gillespie
Eisenhoffer – IL -- Forrest
Yule – OL -- Goldie
Goals – Yule 2, Gillespie 2, Stark 2. Substitution – J. Ferguson for Allen. Referee – Yule. Time of halves, 45 minutes.