Bethlehem’s champion soccer aggregation was better able to adapt themselves to the ground conditions and proved better mud horses in walloping the Philadelphia F. C. in an American Soccer League game on Lehigh Field, Christmas Day afternoon, by the score of 3 goals to 1.
Overhead conditions were ideal by a rising temperature thawed out the playing pitch which was readily churned into a quagmire by the heavy soccer boots. In spite of a muddy pitch the game was replete with thrills, lacking only the expert ball control evident when Bethlehem plays.
Speed and aggressiveness counted most and in these two essentials Bethlehem excelled. Tom Gillespie, recently recovered from an attack of tonsillitis and injuries, was the minute man of the championship aggregation. Playing at center forward, Gillespie notched all three of the winner’s goals, two of which were butted in with his head and the third a terrific drive with his foot. The Phillies evaded a shutout through a pretty goal manipulated by Marshall, the scoring ace of the visiting clan.
That both teams were performing, handicapped by the uncertain footing, was most pronounced in the early minutes of the game when fortunes swung from one end of the field to the other but the raids were unproductive. As the game waged and players accustomed themselves to the conditions and the affair tightened up considerably. The Phillies game a brilliant display and were more than once dangerous but with the exception of the unbeatable shot of Marshall in the first half were unable to drive the water logged and slimy sphere past Dave Edwards, the Bethlehem custodian.
At times the contest waged quite heated, especially when Bethlehem forwards threatened to carry the ball through and were upset more than once by the defense from the rear. Gillespie was very much at home in the going and was given able support in his goal scoring spree by Goldie, the diminutive outside left. Jaap was having no easy time in eluding Pitt, a sorrel topped wing half.
The veteran Harry Pearce was in goal for the Phillies and was called upon to handle frequently. The goals that did get past were placed well out of his reach. Two of Gillespie’s opportunities counted for naught once when after eluding the defense he carried the ball to the very goal mouth, where in delaying to get his balance, he was robbed of his parting shot. On another occasion the came through from close to the center of the field and was just passing the backs when brought down from the rear. A free kick was awarded Bethlehem just outside of the penalty area and Jaap took the kick, lopping the ball beautifully toward the goal mouth where Pearce reached high to save close to the cross bar.
The Phillies were an ambitious, aggressive and hard fighting clan but Bethlehem was much the better club, having the majority of the play in the vicinity of the Quakers’ goal. After twenty-five minutes of playing Bethlehem notched its first tally. The champions were attacking when the visitors were forced to concede a corner in relieving the pressure and Goldie took the kick. He crossed beautifully close to the goal mouth from where Gillespie headed into the net.
There was no more scoring until the last ten minutes of the half when Gillespie again tallied, his header coming off a nice cross from Goldie. With Bethlehem two up the visitors surprised when just before the end of half time a pretty movement down the field in which the entire forward line contributed advanced the ball to within fifteen yards out from where Marshall got his boot to the ball and made no mistakes with his drive. The shot was unsaveable.
Mud bespattered and dripping wet, the club house was a welcome relief to the players at the end of the first forty-five minutes of play. After the brief rest and in some instance a completely change of regalia, the hostilities were resumed.
Within five minutes after the restart, Bethlehem added another goal and again it was Gillespie who performed the trick. The goal was the result of a pretty solo effort in which the dashing center did some excellent manipulating on the heavy going, carrying the ball from midfield and trickled through the defense until he had every one beaten and when close had little trouble in placing well out of the reach of Pearce. Gillespie was hot after goals and it was in this half that one of his opportunities was lost by the treacherous footing and the other when his progress was retarded by a tackle from the rear and Bethlehem was awarded a penalty kick.
Only once in this half did Philadelphia seriously threaten. The forwards were down the field before the Bethlehem defense could retreat into position. McClure drove for goal, his shot labeled, but Gillespie made a great save when he tipped the ball past the upright, giving a corner. The lineup:
Bethlehem – Philadelphia
Edwards – G -- Pearce
Barrie – RFB -- McAdams
Eadie – LFB -- Gregg
McDonald – RHB – W. Reid
Carnihan – CHB – McLaughlin
MacGregor – LHB -- Pitt
Jaap – OR – McGuire
Rollo – IR – J. Reid
Gillespie – CF -- Marshall
Robertson – IL – Wardrop
Goldie – OL – McClure
Goals: Gillespie 3. Marshall 1. Substitutions: Forrest for Robertson, Kirby for Rollo. Referee, James Walder. Linesmen, John Walder and Kelly. Time of halves, 45 minutes.