[O]n Saturday it was Quarter Finals day in the Westmorland FA Senior Challenge Cup, and three out of four of last years semi finalists progressed to the last four again.
Keswick reached the semi finals of the Cup last year, only to be knocked on penalties after extra time in an epic battle with Cartmel.
Now fellow Westmorland League Division One side Wetheriggs United stood between the Westmorland champions and a 2017 semi final place. This ended up a win for Keswick 5-2, but this win was not as easy as the final score suggests.
Wetheriggs started extremely well in the cold rain on a slippery pitch, and Keswick suffered an early set back when key defender Sam Reilly had to retire after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder, with veteran Kevin Frampton called on yet again as a substitute.
It was the visitors who took the lead through a Greg Key headed goal on 25 minutes, but Keswick drew level after sustained pressure forced a Wetherigg’s own goal 5 minutes later. Wetheriggs kept their momentum, and grabbed a second goal from the prolific Niall Renwick on 40 minutes, with Wetherigg’s young No 7 Lewis Windle causing real problems for Keswick, and with Keswick paying the price for a number of missed chances and a fabulous save by Wetherigg’s keeper Nigel McCombie from a powerful Jamie Little thirty yard volley.
But the second half was Keswick’s. After more missed chances, Andy Rigg made it 2-2 on 55 minutes, three minutes later Richard Bannister made it 3-2 and Wetheriggs faded, with Windle now contained by the Keswick defence, and the visitors somewhat oddly spending a considerable amount of time debating numerous ‘issues’ with referee Mal Bellamy.
The final 10 minutes were all Keswick – with Jamie Little and Bannister scoring another two goals to make it 5-2, the last goal courtesy of a beautiful assist from Declan Robinson.
Westmorland League Division One’s Kendal United had a difficult challenge, up against last year’s Cup winners Milnthorpe Corinthians, who are currently mid table in Division One of the West Lancashire League.
Kendal gave a great account of themselves, narrowly losing 3-4. Milnthorpe came out of the blocks fast, with Jamie Hastings scoring after just 3 minutes from a mix up in the Kendal defence. On 6 minutes Milnthorpe went 2-0 up after the Kendal ‘ keeper couldn’t hold a soft shot in slippy conditions, and the Zak Clark capitalised by reacting first. To add to Kendal’s early misery, they then had a player sent off by referee Peter Leonard on 10 minutes for bringing down a Milnthorpe player at the edge of the area as the ‘last man’.
The only good news was that the resulting free kick was saved by the Kendal ‘keeper. After 30 minutes Kendal went 4-0 down after two more quick goals, the first from Milnthorpe’s Elliot Bousfield and 4 minutes later a fourth goal from Craig Edmondson. So, 0-4 down and ten men, surely it was game over for the home side? Far from it! Kendal came out in the second half determined not to be embarrassed by the vastly more experienced Corinthians, and on 50 minutes Mark Barnes scored to make it 1-4 in what had become a much more even contest.
An excellent move saw Kendal get a second after 65 minutes from Danny Craig, with Kyle Hansen then getting a third for the home side on 80 minutes, to make it a nervous final 10 mins for the rattled Corinthians. Milnthorpe then had player sent off with 5 minutes to go after a tackle on Barnes, so it was ten against ten for the final few minutes, but Kendal couldn’t get the equaliser to force extra time, and Milnthorpe go forwards to the semi finals.
Last year’s losing finalists Cartmel AFC, currently third in the Baines Bagguley Penhale North Lancashire League Premier Division, took on Kendal County, who are currently second in Division Two of the West Lancashire League.
These were two in form teams, both looking for a win. This was a tight match, but Cartmel came out 1-0 winners with a very early Glenn Sargent goal the only difference between the two teams, although Dan Ferguson hit the post with a header from 6 yards out in the dying minutes. The fourth tie, the all Westmorland League clash between Kirkoswald and Appleby, was cancelled on the morning of the match due to the poor condition of the Old Showfield.