For 60 odd minutes Kirkoswald look like winning this High Sheriff’s Cup Quarter Final, and a mis-firing Keswick looked like they deserved to be dumped out of the tournament. The teams are currently first and second in the Westmorland League’s top division, and this cup tie was a repeat of last year’s final – which Keswick won.
With a string on injuries already hitting the visitors, this week coach Kevin Franpton learnt he had lost key striker Jamie Little, who as injured at training, and the increasingly handy youngster Alfie West, necessitating yet more team changes.
Kirkoswald had by far the best start, and on 10 minutes almost scored after the Keswick defence allowed runners Callum Evans and Brad Renwick to close in on Lee Medding’s goal – but the shot went way to the right of the goal. Kirkoswald maintained their momentum, and on 20 minutes The Kirkoswald number 3 Martin Strong launched a ball at the Keswick goal which – possibly with the help of a gust of wind – sailed into the top corner just beyond the reach of Lee Medding’s fingers.
A deserved 1-0 lead for KO. Keswick slowly began to regain some composure and on 40 minutes Richard Bell was fouled and referee Paul Best awarded a free kick just outside the box – but Bell, who took the kick, saw his shot sailed over the Kirkoswald bar, leaving KO goalie Tom Banks untroubled. Just two minutes later Keswick applied more pressure and Stephen Hilton forced a corner – which resulted in a neat goal for Keswick defender Sam Reilly – and the game was level at 1-1. Just five minutes later Kirkoswald were ahead again 2-1 after a calamitous own goal by Keswick skipper Hilton, who fired the ball into his own net and Keswick went into half time 2-1 down – with Kirkoswald the deserved leaders.
The second half started with more of the same – Kirkoswald played well, and Keswick were scrappy and loose. Referee Best did a good job in keeping tempers and tackles in check: anyone who shouts ‘stop whinging’ at the entire (whinging) field deserves respect – and for 55 minutes Kirkoswald always looked the more likely team to score, with the KO number 7 Josh Usher causing lots of problems, although Keswick’s Stuart Webster was a stalwart in defence.
Keswick then brought on Lewis Cumber for Gaskell and changed the structure of the team – and suddenly Keswick’s Robinson, Rigg and Bannister all started looking far more effective. 58 minutes into the game, Keswick’s Stephen Hindmarch, who also suddenly upped his game, scored from a very good strike on the Kirkoswald goal, making the score 2-2, and two minutes later Cumber launched an excellent cross from the right wing which could so easily have been Keswick’s third. But the visitors didn’t have to wait long – just five minutes later Andy Rigg scored from strike taken from the right of the penalty box, and five minutes after that Keswick almost had a fourth when another ‘wind assisted’ lob almost found the back of the net.
With ten minutes to go, Keswick’s Richard Bannister launched an attack on the left wing, holding onto the ball and fighting of a number of challenges, before crossing the ball in for Rigg to score his second, and Keswick’s fourth. In the final minutes Keswick’s Anthony Stafford came on and he and Cumber pressed on at the KO goal – and the match ended as a comfortable a 4-2 win for Keswick.
A game of two halves. Westmorland League leaders Keswick have a tricky match next match in the Cumberland Senior Cup quarter final match against Cumberland County League winners Netherall at Braithwaite – and they will need to come out with a guns blazing if they want to win that one against really tough opposition and in a competition which includes a clash between Workington Reds and Penrith AFC this Wednesday coming,
On another day where Cumbria’s football fixtures were hit by heavy rain, just a few matches survived. In Westmorland League Division I, Appleby beat Ibis 2-0 and in Division III, Carlisle’s Eden Thistle beat Penrith Royal 2-0, Kirkoswald Reserves triumphed at Greystoke Reserves 3-1, Windermere SC Reserves won 3-1 at Penrith Academy, Ullswater Utd won with a 5-3 result over Endmoor KGR Reserves and Burneside Reserves thrashed Penrith Saints 9-0.
In the Smurfitt Kappa Cumberland County League Premier division, Carlisle City lost 1-0 to Aspatria and Wigton Harriers had an excellent 1-0 win over league leaders Netherall. In Division One, Borough drew 3-3 with Whitehaven Miners Reserves and Silloth beat Bransty 9-1. In the Conway Cup, Whitehaven Amateurs lost 1-3 to Workington Athletic, and in the Mason & Freeman Cup Wetheriggs Utd Reserves beat Greystoke 3-0. Penrith AFC had yet another game at Frenchfield cancelled – their game against Newcastle Benfield will join a large number of other Northern League matches that need to be rescheduled.
Kirkoswald: Tom Banks, Luke Boyle, Martin Strong, Mark-Lucas Winspear, Chris Tuer, James Stobart (C) Josh Usher, Brad Renwick, Callum Evans, Lewis Renvoize, Sean Elliot. Subs: Rob Whitton, Jordan Watson.
Keswick: Lee Meddings,Adam Gaskell, Richard Bell, Stuart Dowson, Sam Reilly, Stephen Hilton (C), Stuart Webster, Declan Robinson, Richard Bannister, Stephen Hindmarch, Andy Rigg. Subs: Lewis Cumber, Anthony Stafford.
Referee: Paul Best
Cumbria Crack man of the Match: Andy Rigg (Keswick)