With one goal up and little more than five minutes to play, Bethlehem Steel soccer team in observing pennant raising day was unable to shake off the jinx which trailed the club in all its meetings against Boston last season, and the first get-together for this season ended in a one goal draw on Lehigh Field Saturday.
The game was witnessed by the largest crowd of soccer rooters assembled on Lehigh Field this season and they were treated to a thrilling contest. It was a game between two good teams, both past masters in cleverness and aggressiveness from the opening to the final whistle. The forwards thrilled with accurately timed passing attacks and the defense was strong at all times.
The festivities preceding the game included the pennant raising and when concluded Referee Johnny Walder called the captains of both teams together for the toss. With the opening whistle the game was started at full tilt and not once was their any let up in the terrific pace.
That Boston has taken the place of Fall River insofar as rivalry among clubs is concerned was more than once evident by the hard and aggressive playing and more than once Referee Walder had to warn the players regarding their tactics. When the first half ended scoreless it became apparent than on the showing made by the teams in the first forty-five minutes of play that one goal might be big enough to decide the issue. In striving to gain this counter both Blair, the Boston center forward, and Gillespie, the Bethlehem center were warned for charging the goals. In the second half Gillespie was banished to the sidelines for five minutes.
Outstanding on the defensive was the effective work of both Davidson and Edwards, each handling frequently and on shots that seemed impossible. Lat in the second half Edwards took a rifle shot drive labeled accurately off the toe of Neilson, but a few minutes later was tricked on a cross which Blair headed into the net for the equalizing count. Earlier in the second half McConnell put his team ahead when a tricky movement in front of the goal caught Davidson out of position. But for those two goals neither goalie made a mistake.
On the kickoff Bethlehem rushed down the field, the Bethlehem left wing manipulating a pretty passing movement to break through. A long cross to Jaap was returned to center from where Gillespie headed over the bar. Another attack a few minutes later resulted in a corner on which Davidson saved on a header.
For thirty minutes of this half Bethlehem was almost entirely the aggressor Edwards handling exactly twice and then on easy shots. On the other hand, Davidson was forced to perform brilliantly to check Bethlehem’s efforts to score. The last fifteen minutes of the period witnessed the visitors taking on a new lease of life and the Bethlehem goal was more than once threatened.
That Bethlehem did not score in the opening period was due to the inability to take advantage of more than one good opportunity. With only a few minutes more to go to half time, Boston failed to convert a corner kick and an instant later Bethlehem was unable to do anything with a similar opportunity. Jaap missed the crowing opportunity of the game to score when his drive from close range went bye.
While the first half was fast and exciting it was after the restart that the real thrills were produced and the fans kept on edge to the very finish. Immediately after the restart Bethlehem made a determined bid for victory and within five minutes their efforts were rewarded. Jaap and Stark executing a pretty passing movement came down the right wing and in closing in drew the defense toward them. Jaap passed to Stark but the latter boxed in, flicked a header to the toe of McConnell in front of the net and the center forward easily beat Davidson who seemingly was centering his attention on Stark.
Both teams were fighting desperately, Bethlehem to protect its one goal lead and Boston to equalize, with the result that the ball frequently traversed from one end of the field to another. In a play close to midfield J. Ballantyne, in trying to trap the ball fell to the turf, dislocating his arm and Gonsalvez took his place. Bethlehem, too, had made a change in the second half, sending McDonald to replace Barrie and using Reid at right halfback.
The closing minutes of play were fast and furious in which both Edwards and Davidson did some phenomenal saving.