By Ben Challis
Keswick and Kendal County will meet in the final of the Westmorland Cup on Saturday 27th April after wins at the weekend, with Keswick putting four past Kendal United at Fitz Park, and Kendal County winning a hard fought battle with Milnthorpe Corinthians in a game that went to extra time and was won by just the one goal.
Westmorland League champions Keswick had the home advantage over Kendal United in the Semi Final of the Westmorland FA Senior Cup, but the visitors, who now play in the West Lancashire League, held the home side at bay for half an hour with a battling display led by skipper Bailey Kenny.
With a number of players returning from injury, Keswick started brightly and had had two early chances, with Alfie West inches away from scoring, but blocked by some excellent goal keeping, and Richard Bannister misfiring with a goalmouth header that lacked power.
Kendal were quick to respond and push the ball back up the field, but nothing really tested John Phillips in the Keswick nets, with Sam Reilly and Man of the Match Lewis Cumber sweeping up any forward balls from the visitors and both solid as a rock.
Despite making hard work of the game at times, Keswick were increasingly dominant as the first half progressed, but despite plenty of players in the box on numerous occasions and plenty of corners and crosses, the home side could not find the back of the net until a linking run from Stevie Hindmarch on 35 minutes, which took him past three defenders to cut the ball back and set up West, who smashed the ball home for 1-0.
This was quickly followed by Keswick’s second goal, with Jamie Little breaking down the right wing and another quality volley from Andy Frampton, whose excellent effort settled any remaining Keswick nerves and gave the home side a 2-0 lead at half Time. Keswick made it 3-0 immediately after the re-start with a Josh Hilton run finding Bannister on the back post to slot the ball home.
Substitute Declan Robinson, unmarked at the front post, added a fourth with his first kick of the game. For the final fifteen minutes of the second half Keswick switched to cruise control with the four goal margin, and Phillips now had to make a couple of saves as Kendal pushed forwards, but Keswick ended up worthy winners.
Last season’s losing finalists and winners of the Cup in 2013 and 2014 Kendal County took on Milnthorpe Corinthians, who won the Cup in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. And this was a tough battle that went to extra time having ended 1-1 on 90 minutes.
It was Corinthains who took the lead on 12 minutes from a County own goal, and the home side held that lead until 35 minutes when George Key equalised for the visitors. Normal time ended 1-1. Despite the fact that just five minutes into extra time Kendal County were down to ten men after a red card, they won the match with a Dan Lowther penalty strike on 100 minutes to set up the final with Keswick.