Keswick are currently dominating the Westmorland League Division 1 table, with 34 points out of a possible 36, with significant victories over rivals like Appleby FC and Kirkoswald in the League. But away at Northbank FC’s Shepmount Stadium home, against a team from a more senior league, it was never going to be an easy match, even if Northbank have been misfiring recently in the Premier Division of the Northern Football Alliance, with only 15 points out of a possible 42.
But this is the Cup, anything can happen, and on a crisp cold Carlisle afternoon, with temperatures only just above freezing, it was Keswick who had the brighter start, and were soon threatening the Northbank goal. It didn’t take long for Keswick to break through and the first Keswick goal by No 11 Andy Rigg was in after a quarter of an hour, although Northbank came close in response, with their quick and always troublesome No 10, Ricky James, hitting the post five minutes later.
Five minutes after that, Keswick’s excellent No 7 Declan Robinson also came close, and then right on the cusp of half time, Keswick’s top striker Richard Bannister struck, and Keswick looked firmly in control at two nil going into the second half.
Keswick made a half time substitution, and brought on Thomas Atkinson to replace Rigg, and Atkinson immediately caused problems on the left wing for Northbank, and soon increased Keswick’s lead to three just minutes later. Northbank tried to settle themselves, and began to work more coherently, and this started to shift the balance in the game, and although Keswick’s defence of Reilly, Downson, Webster and in particular West played well, the pressure resulted in more attacks on the Keswick goal, with Northbank’s number 4 Matthew Read driving the home team forwards.
After Keswick’s goalkeeper (Lee Meddings) made a real mess of a clearance, Northbank took advantage and pulled one back, with a tremendous and well placed strike by No 8 Kyle Armstrong, straight into the top left corner to make it 3-1.
But this was the last of Northbank’s resistance, apart from arguing numerous decisions and somewhat strangely (in the circumstances) wasting time, although their pacey No 10 James remained a threat, as and when Northbank got the ball forwards. With firm control of the midfield, Keswick slotted in two more goals from Atkinson and Bannister before the end of the ninety minutes, resulting in a 5 -1 victory on a cold but productive day for the visitors.
Keswick: Lee Meddings, Alfie West, Stuart Webster, Sam Reilly, Stuart Dowson, Stephen Hilton, Declan Robinson (sub: Paul Hindmarch), Stephen Hindmarch, Richard Bannister, Jamie Little (Sub: Richard Bell), Andy Rigg (Sub: Thomas Atkinson)
Northbank: Barrie Stevenson, John Hayes, Lee Underwood, Matthew Read, Ross Irving, Neil Thorley, Adam Clarke, Kyle Armstrong, Dean Armstrong, Ricky James, Jordan Cowley. Subs Michael Hayton, Jonathan Haughan, Sean Willis, Darren Noctor.
Referee: Graham Turner. Assistants; Tony Whitfield, Rudi Tod
Cumbria Crack Man Of the Match. Declan Robinson (Keswick)