[K]eswick have won the first of the Westmorland League championship in 2017-2018 season with a 6-0 away at Kendal County Reserves in Division One of the James Cropper Westmorland League. In the same week, their closes rivals Appleby lifted the Westmorland FA Benevolent Trophy in Kendal.
In a busy week, Westmorland action started on Monday with home games for title contenders Keswick Reserves in Division Two and Kirkby Stephen in Division Three. Keswick walked away with a 6-1 home win over Staveley United thanks to a hat trick from Dave Gaskell and goals from George Frampton, Dan Fletcher and a Ewan Clark penalty, and Kirby Stephen triumphed with a 5-0 win over Sedbergh Wanderers Reserves with a Dan Hallam hat trick and goals for Dan Robinson and Matt Branthwaite.
On Tuesday all eyes were on Kendal, and having demolished Penrith Reserves 6-1 last Saturday, Keswick’s first eleven clinched the title in the race for the James Cropper Westmorland League title, with an impressive 0-6 away win at Kendal County Reserves. The result left Keswick eleven points clear of second placed Appleby in Division One, with just three games left to play. The game was a comfortable win for Keswick with manager Eddie Thomson delighted with a team performance that was “effective, smooth and firing on all cylinders”. Missing a couple of players through injury and unavoidable absences, Keswick started brightly on a heavy pitch, with Jake Doolin and Ben Jefferson stepping up to fill the gaps in defence and attack, and it was Jefferson, only returned from long term injury last week, who scored first, and he then quickly added a second. Keswick were now dominating the match and Jamie Little added a third and Jefferson scored for his hat trick as Keswick went into half time 4-0 up. The second half was more of the same, as the marauding Keswick teenage contingent of Josh Hilton and George Frampton rampaged upfield and tried their luck as Keswick peppered shots on the Kendal goal, with Alfie West adding two more goals with a resounding final 6-0 score. And the title.
Shap were also in action on Tuesday night and a 3-2 win over Penrith Reserves lifted Shap into eighth spot, now with a comfortable eight point gap to the relegation zone. The win came on the back of a Jordan Palmer hat trick.The other Tuesday night match was a Division Two mid table clash between seventh placed Appleby Reserves and sixth Kendal United Reserves, won away by Kendal 2-3.
On Tuesday a resurgent Sedbergh Wanderers had a huge game against Settle United FC, looking to defend their trophy in the Craven Cup Semi-Finals, but it was disappointment for the Wanderers who just didn’t take their chances and lost 0-2.
On Wednesday night Appleby won the Benevolent Trophy beating Windermere SC at the Pye Motors stadium in Kendal with goals from John Coward and Josh Addison-Adams. Appleby are on for a cup treble – they face Kendal County in the final of the Westmorland FA Senior Cup, and Keswick in the final of Westmorland High Sheriff’s Cup on May 10th, again in Kendal.
There were also two crucial games in Division Two of the James Cropper Westmorland League. with Staveley United, just two days after being thumped by Keswick Reserves, holding Castletown United to a 2-2 draw, and Keswick Reserves winning 5 -1 against Ullswater United with goals from George Frampton, Adam Beaty, Charlie Robson, Cam Ball and a Ewan Clark penalty. Castletown, Keswick and Dent were now all equal on 47 points, four points behind leaders Carleton Banks, with Keswick and Castletown due to meet on Saturday.
In Division Three Lunesdale United’s fine run of form continued with a 4-2 win over Penrith Academy with two goals for LUFC Sean Boustead and two for Brandon Brett with Simon Vogt in charge of the whistle, and Sedbergh Wanderers Reserves notched up a 2-1 win over Burneside.
With the title already decided in Division One of the James Cropper League, on Saturday champions Keswick travelled to Endmoor KGR and came away with a 3-0 win, still undefeated in the League this season, thanks to goals from Richard Bannister (2) and Stephen Hilton. More unexpectedly, Appleby were held to a 2-2 draw by Ibis with Dan Jones and Josh Phizacklea on the scoresheet for Ibis. And Windermere SC edged a 4-3 win against Kendal County Reserves, with Kendal now in deep in the relegation battle to avoid the drop, and Windermere up to fourth.
There were the three big games in Division Two on Saturday with Keswick Reserves up against Castletown United, Carleton Banks away at Kendal Utd Reserves and Dent at home to Greystoke FC. And this was a crucial day in the title race: Carleton Banks had a major set back to their hopes, losing 4-0 away at Kendal United Reserves with an excellent performance from the home side and goals from Cameron Toal-Lim (2) and Joe Carradus (2). Although still the team to beat, that result was made even worse for Carleton Banks as Castletown won 3-0 away at Keswick, with the goals from Jamie Street, Sam Oliver and Ryan Gate. This means Castletown (50 points) are just one point behind the leaders Carleton Banks (51). Dent leapfrogged Keswick into third with a 3-0 home win over Greystoke, Dent (50) are equal on points with Castletown but having played two games more. Keswick Reserves are now fourth with 47 points. Elsewhere Stavely climbed up to eighth with a 2-3 away win at Eden Thistle, and AFC Carlisle and Windermere SC Reserves battled it out for a 2-2 draw.
In another fascinating twist to the season’s end, Division Three’s top two met – with Kirkby Stephen needing just one point from their final three games to secure first place, and Ibis Reserves needed just one point to secure second place and promotion. But Ibis had this one with a 2-0 win meaning they are guaranteed second place and promotion – but Kirkby Stephen will have to wait to be crowned champions. In the final Division Three matches, Langwathby Utd lost out 3-6 at home to Kirkoswald Reserves, and Sedbergh Wanderers Reserves also lost at home, 2-3 to Penrith Royal.