[I]n the James Cropper Westmorland League there were two epic cup Semi Finals, both of which went to extra time, with Sedbergh Wanderers pushing Westmorland League leaders Keswick all the way at Fitz Park in the High Sheriff’s Cup, and Lunesdale United facing Kirkby Stephen in the Peter Daws Memorial Shield.
At Keswick, and after a drab first half, this game suddenly exploded into life and had all the drama a cup tie needs – and more! Keswick should have taken the lead from the penalty spot, but were denied by an excellent save from Sedbergh’s Matthew Parkin, and then Sedbergh’s Shaun Gardner put the visitors ahead from a quick counter attack. Keswick finally got back into the game through a Sedbergh own goal, leaving it 1-1 at full time.
In extra time, it was Keswick who took the lead through a Josh Hilton goal, but then Sedbergh equalised in the very last minute from an Andrew Metcalfe penalty. The final score was 2-2 so the game went to penalties. With each keeper pulling off one excellent save, Keswick’s Lee Meddings then saved penalty number six from Sedbergh – and Keswick skipper Stevie Hindmarch made no mistake and scored for the win 5-4 on penalties.
In the Peter Daws Memorial Shield Semi Final, Lunesdale Utd had a shock 2-1 win over Kirkby Stephen, even more suprising given that ten days ago Lunedale lost 1-7 to Kirkby Stephen in the League at Maurice Park, and for this match LUFC were missing a number of key players.
But what a cracker this game was, even on a damp and heavy pitch. Kirkby Stephen had the lion’s share of early possession and almost took the lead in the first half from a penalty – but Lunesdale ‘keeper Adam Ingledew pulled off a fine save. Then Kirkby Stephen did take the lead on 36 minutes from Damon McNaughton and it was 0-1 at half time.
On 52 minutes Lunesdale’s Thomas Jackson found a yard of space and hit an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the Kirkby Stephen net for 1-1. The teams battled on in a superb cup tie, but neither could find the back of the net and with both teams having late strikes ruled offside, and it was 1-1 at Full Time. In extra time LUFC captain Bun Collinson provided that ‘something special’ and hit a great left footed shot from 20 yards into the bottom left of the Kirkby Stephen goal for 2-1 – and the win!
In the two midweek fixtures in Division One of the James Cropper Westmorland League, it was all eyes on the top of the table as both Keswick and Appleby were in action against the then bottom two teams. Keswick ground out a 2-1 win over basement side Ambleside United thanks to two first half goals from Declan Robinson and Richard Bannister, but Appleby were held to a 0-0 draw by Sedbergh Wanderers, giving the visitors a much needed point, but leaving Appleby 11 points adrift of Keswick with five games left to play.
In Division One on Saturday, just one Division One match survived the downpours, and Kirkoswald had an impressive 2-6 away win over Ambleside United to stay second in the table thanks to a Niall Renwick hat trick, a brace for Nicholas Jake Holden and one goal from Chris Tuer.
In the midweek Division Two fixtures, Carleton Banks put their recent Cup defeats behind them to win 2-1 over AFC Carlisle to stay top of the table with the goals from Jake and Josh Briggs, and Castletown moved back into third spot with a 6-3 win over Braithwaite with the Castletown goals from Liam Robinson (2), Ewan Willacy (2), Sam Oliver and Jamie Roper. Keswick Reserve’s match aganst Staveley United was postponed.
In Division Two on Saturday, all of the top four won. Carleton Banks stay top and clear by four points with a close 2-3 away win over Staveley United. Dent stay second with a convincing 5-0 home win over AFC Carlisle, with the goals from Richard Thexton and a brace each from Alistair Bainbridge and Joe Gardner. Castletown stay third with a 1-3 away in over Greystoke with Seany Elliott scoring twice from free kicks, and Lamin Cham adding the third. Castletown and Carleton Banks meet this Wednesday. And Keswick Reserves notched up an away vivtory in their local derby against Braithwaite, winning 0-3 thanks to another Joppy Hodgson long range screamer, another free kick from George Frampton and a BFC own goal. The chasing pack are now well adrift of these four, but fifth placed Eden Thistle also won, with a 0-2 away victory at Appleby Reserves, and Kendal United Reserves notched up an important 6-2 over Ullswater United to stay sixth.
In the midweek Division Three fixtures, just one match survived the downpours and Lunesdale had a good 2-4 away win over Penrith Royal in hideous conditions, with the LUFC goals from Brandon Brett, Bailey Dobson and two from Tyler James, and Lunesdale move into third spot behind Ibis and Kirkby Stephen, whose match against Sedbergh Wanderers Reserves was postponed.
In Division Three on Saturday, Kirkoswald Reserves moved back into third place with a tight 2-3 away win over Burneside, with the KO goals from Eddie Raine, Ron Anderson and Ryan Bell. And the bottom two sides, Penrith Saints and Langwathby United shared the honours with a 3-3 draw.
In the Smurfit Kappa Cumberland County League, there was an important Whitehaven Cup Semi Final pitting defending Premier Division champions and cup holders Workington Athletic against Division One’s Gosforth and Workington won this 4-0 with the goals from Ash Kelly (2), Greg Quayle and Tony Berwick
There was one midweek fixture in Division One, and Pirelli have the title in their grasp after a 0-4 win over Unisun Athletic, with the visitor’s goals from Jamie-Lee Hull, Jordan Irving, Matt Story and Jordan Pritchard-Farish. The Premier Division fixture between Cockermouth and Workington Athletic was another cancellation due to a waterlogged pitch .
On Saturday there was again just one Division One match and Pirelli are now unstoppable after a 6-0 win over bottom placed Whitehaven Amateurs with an impressive four goals from Jamie-Lee Hull and one a each for Jordan Irving and Phil Cothers. In the Divisional Cup Semi Final, the surprise result of the day was UniSun Athletic’s excellent 2-1 win over Bransty Rangers, who are second placed in the Division, The win came in extra time, and Ashley Tyson and David Osbourne scored for Unisun, with Rangers’ reply from Stewart O’Pray.