[W]ith the champions already decided in Divisions One and Three of the James Cropper Westmorland League, it was time for Division Two to be decided – and what a close race it was. On top of this in a busy week of county football, there was also the final of the Peter Daws Memorial Shield to be decided, a close battle between Penrith Royal and Lunesdale.
But let’s start with In the midweek fixtures in Division One. Endmoor KGR had a disappointing result, losing 0-3 to the increasingly impressive Windermere SC, and Kendal County Reserves woes continued, losing 0-3 to second placed Appleby with the visitors goals from Bobby Atkinson, Jack Overs and Anthony Lund.
Sedbergh Wanderers, who have also had an impressive recent run of form, notched up another win and grabbed another three points, beating Penrith Reserves 2-1 with Wanderers goals from Dale Metcalfe and Andy Todd.
The League season came to an end with the Saturday matches, and champions Keswick and second placed Appleby battled it out to a perhaps predictable 0-0 draw.
Keswick keep their undefeated League record, and now it’s all to play for between these two in the last competitive game of the season, the High Sheriff’s Cup Final at the Pye Motors Stadium in Kendal on Thursday evening where Keswick go for the League and Cup double and Appleby the Cup treble.
Kirkoswald ended the season with a draw, this one 2-2 against Sedbergh, and Kirkoswald have an excellent third place in the table as well as a reaching the Semi-Finals of the High Sheriff’s Cup.
On the day the Sedbergh goals both came from Oli Wales, and KO’s season was rounded off with to goals from Reece Simpson and Nicholas Jake Holden, with the equaliser the last kick of the game.
The weekend fixtures confirmed relegation for Ambleside United and Kendal County Reserves, with Ambleside losing 2-6 to Shap, with two goals from Shap’s Player’s Player of the Year Jordan Pamer and one each for the Young Player of the Year Ben Palmer, Paul Wright, Carl Horner and Daniel Holder, and Endmoor KGR defeated Kendal Reserves 4-0 thanks to two goals from Sam Wilson, one for Sam Daws and an own goal.
Division Two has been the really interesting battle as the season drew to a close. All to play for at the top, All to play for at the bottom.
After the midweek fixtures, Carleton Banks and Castletown United were level at the top of the table, with Carleton Banks second only on goal difference, winning 4-1 over Greystoke whilst Castletown only managed a 1-1 draw with Kendal United Reserves.
The two teams were then both on 57 points with both team’s final games at the weekend: Carleton Banks against third placed Dent and Castletown against Windermere SC Reserves.
The battle for third and fourth spot was equally tight, after fourth placed Keswick Reserves picked up all three points with a 0-3 away win at Winderemere midweek.
With Dent and Keswick now both on 53 points, again Saturday would be the decider and both had tough matches: Keswick facing Kendal United Reserves, and Dent facing Carleton Banks. In the only other midweek match it was all about relegation, and Ullswater United found something to cheer about with a 0-3 away win over Appleby Reserves, and a glimmer of hope in escaping the bottom spot, but with all their games played, Ulllwater will gain the place only if Brathwaite lost their final match against Windermere Reserves and BFC’s goal difference is reduced by two or more goals in the final matches next week.
Come Saturday the top of the table was decided. And Castletown are Division Two champions, winning a very tough game against Windermere SC Reserves 3-4. Having gone 2-0 down, Castletown pulled this one back with a Sean Elliot brace and goals from Ryan Gate and Jamie Street. On the news that Carlton Banks and Dent drew 3-3, that one goal made all the difference with Castletown ending the season two points clear and champions, undefeated in the League.
Third and fourth places were also decided, with Keswick Reserves ending the season in fourth spot with a 1-1 draw against fifth placed Kendal United Reserves, and Dent third on goal difference after their draw. Westmorand FA Junior Cup winners Dent and champions Castletown now meet in the Final of the Mason & Freeman Divisional Cup on Tuesday 8th May, each looking for the double. Four good teams: Keswick were finalists in the Junior Cup, and Carleton Banks promoted, and semi finalists in the Westmorland FA Benevolent Trophy and the Mason & Freeman Cup.
At the foot of the table Ullswater are doomed after AFC Carlisle won 3-0 over Staveley United in their last game – and the second relegation place is between Braithwaite and AFC: Braithwaite have one game remaining against Windermere, and they must draw or win, or they go down.
In Division Three, Endmoor KGR Reserves had two midweek fixtures to end the season, and drew the first with Sedbergh Wanderes Reserves 2- 2, with KGR’s goals from David Clements and a Wanderers’ own goal, and Sedbergh’s from Elliot Oxley and a first ever goal for the club for John Woof, but then Endmoor lost out 4-6 to champions Kirkby Stephen despite being 4-2 up at half time with the KGR goals two each for Brad Ireland and Sam Wilson. But Kirby Stephen prevailed with a Dan Robinson hat trick, two for Andy Lockheart and one for Matt Branthwate. Endmoor Reserves end the season seventh, with Sedbergh Reserves eighth on goal difference.
The main action in Division Three was the final of the Peter Daws Memorial Shield on Thursday night at the Pye Motors Stadium between Penrith Royal and Lunesdale, both going into the match on the back of good runs of form: But, and its was a big but, the last team to beat Royal in the League were Lunesdale a month ago, and that was LUFC’s second league win over Penrith this season, and their in form striker Brandon Brett is top of the goal scorer stats!
Lunesdale went into the match with not one but two injured goal keepers, with Adam Ingledew out with broken fingers and Chris Mandle with a ruptured ankle ligament.
On top of this stalwart all rounder David Beecham was out with a broken foot after injury last week. From kick off, Lunesdale were soon under pressure from the experienced Royal side, and when LUFC lost John Wolstenholme to a ankle injury things began to look tricky.
But this was a very close match, and it was Lunesdale who went ahead when James Mandle wrong footed Willacy in the Royal’s nets for 1-0, and went 2-0 up from a superb Tyler James free kick on 33 minutes. Royal battled back and on 41 minutes Royal scored after good passing down the left and and a simple tap in for 2-1.
Just before half time Lunesdale were awarded a corner and that man Brett saw his corner kick fly over everybody including the ‘keeper to sink into the top right hand corner of goal. What a corner! 3-1.
The second half saw more pressure from Royal and stout defending and goal keeping from LUFC, but on 60 minutes Royal reduced the arrears after a good cross from the right found Willan in space and his shot gave Duncan Mackenzie no chance. 3-2. But that was it, and Lunesdale held on for a fabulous win, the trophy and an excellent end to a great season.
It was a very quiet week in the Smurfit Kappa Cumberland County league, just one match in the Premier Division but a big one at the top of the table, and Aspatria beat Wigton 0-1 thanks to an Andrew Lowes goal, and meaning the League title is now between just two teams – Aspatria and Workington Athletic.
In Division One, Bransty Rangers and Unisun Athletic drew 3-3 with Unisun’s goals from Ry Johnston (2) and Shane Dorward, and Bransty’s reported as an improbable hat trick for veteran Eddie Holliday but more likely to be two goals from Jamie Brady and one for Kyle Jenkins.
Bransty end the season third and Unisun fifth. Unisun have the Divisional Cup final against Pirelli to look forwards to on the 9th May and Bransty the Final of the Benevolent Cup on the 11th May against Workington Athletic. Pirelli meet Workington in the final of the Whitehaven Cup on the 15th May.