With a slew of cancellations to Westmorland League and cup matches, league leaders Keswick had offered to relocate this High Sheriff’s Cup first round match to the 3G artificial grass pitch at Newton Rigg, but Ibis decided to keep the home advantage, and the match went ahead at the Jubilee Playing Fields in Kendal – as indeed did the match between Penrith Saints and Ibis Reserves which should have been played at Penrith’s Frenchfield.
Both games were on a sticky surface, but the Jubilee Playing Fields had just about survived the recent tail end of Storm Jonas (or storm Gertrude or whatever it is) but all four teams were pleased to get a game of football, wherever it was played.
Whilst the pitch was heavy going, but the Cup game saw sunshine, gloom and hail. Keswick started brightly, matched by Ibis, and the first half was goalless and fairly evenly matched, with end to end play entertaining for supporters – and tiring for the players.
As the second half started, Keswick seemed to the more attacking side, and Keswick’s Hilton and Hindmarch began to dominate in the midfield and Alifie West was a constant menace for the visitors. Keswick’s busy Declan Robinson hit the bar after 50 minutes and it was Keswick who opened the scoring five minutes later with a rather surprising goal from their No 10 Anthony Stafford, who launched a looping ball towards the goal – only for it to go in off the post.
Maybe he was expecting to score – everyone else on the pitch and the touchline seemed quite surprised – my camera was pointed at the touchline as the ball went in (sorry!) – but a good goal it was!
On 60 minutes, Ibis’ number 11 Ross Swidenbank, who had a very good game, was booked for kicking out, although the free kick was also awarded to Ibis by referee Mark Robson, but Ibis struggled to get near the Keswick goal, and indeed Keswick’s goalie Lee Meddings saw most of the ball sent to him from his own team.
In the final twenty minutes Keswick made three substitutions which gave youngsters Joppy Hodgson, Charlie Robson and the excellent Cameron Ball the chance to have a go at Division 1 football. On 75 minutes Richard Bell scored a second goal for Keswick, from a free kick, which made the win look fairly safe for Keswick.
Ibis did have a near miss at 80 minutes, with a scuffed shot scrambled off the line by Meddings, but just two minutes later Keswick put the result beyond doubt when No 11 Andy Rigg scored, from another free kick, and Frank Bolton had to pick the ball out of his net for the third time. 3-0 was probably a fair result, although Ibis will kick themselves for giving away three easily avoidable goals.
Ibis: Frank Bolton, Mark Demonti, Callum Taylor, Darren Braithwaite, Darren Nightingale, Lee Tattersall, Dan Postlethwaite, Adam Owen, Luke Deveney, Jez Walsh, Ross Swidenbank. Subs: Josh Ford, Cory Robinson, Tim Blarmire
Keswick: Lee Meddings, Alfie West, Richard Bell, Stuart Dowson, Adam Gaskell, Stephen Hilton, Declan Robinson, Stephen Hindmarch, Richard Bannister, Anthony Stafford, Andy Rigg. Subs: Joppy Hodgson, Charlie Robson, Cameron Ball
Referee: Mark Robson
Cumbria Crack Man of the Match; Stephen Hilton (Keswick)