As the day was dawning, Keswick were sat at the top of Division 1 in the North West Hockey League, with Wigan occupying the slot at the foot of the league on zero points following six successive defeats, but in such a tight league only a fool would expect the result to be a foregone conclusion
Keswick started the game strongly and the high press worked well for the opening ten minutes, affording the away team a rich vein of possession which culminated in a number of scoring opportunities, none of which were converted due to chances being missed and shots from Rob Cook, Shaun Wilson and Rikki Barnes being saved by the on form keeper.
The deadlock was finally broken after Keswick pressure won a short corner, which was deftly flicked into the net by Tom Morgan.
Wigan fought back for the remainder of the first half which ended up being relatively close with only the solitary goal dividing the two teams.
The Wigan keeper started strongly again in the second half to keep Wigan in the game but Keswick scored the second goal of the game after the Keswick attack reacted well from a mis-diverted injection, with an accurate pass from Thomas Morgan allowing Rikki Barnes to slot the ball into the goal.
Wigan reacted quickly to the second goal by converting following an unexpected break from midfield. This sparked a good spell of pressure from Wigan who won several short corners in quick succession, all of which were expertly dealt with by the Keswick defence.
The scales tipped back in Keswick’s favour following a solid period in the middle of the pitch where Wilson, Bowen and Jackson helped to quell any Wigan attacks and fuel Keswick counter attacks, one of which resulted in Rob Cook applying a smart touch to a Barnes strike following some great dribbling and passing from Ben Harrison and Mark Proctor.
At this point the travelling team should have shut up shop and taken home the three points, but a young Wigan whippersnapper had other ideas after he showed incredible individual skill and composure to collect the ball on the half way and dribble his way to a second Wigan goal.
Wigan had the bit between their teeth and they would have equalised were it not for a sublime clearance from the Keswick goal line by the ever energetic Clive Swanston, to the disbelief of the deluded Wigan frontmen inaccurately screaming for a penalty flick.
Keswick were down to ten men for a short period after Ben Harrison allegedly used his ample frame to lever the Wigan winger off the ball, but the sounds of disbelief from the masses as the yellow card emerged from the pocket atop the umpire’s breast told a different story.
Wigan managed to capitalise on the reduced opposition and equalised after an incredibly fortuitous touch from a seemingly unaware Wigan midfielder managed to catch out the Keswick defence, leading to a two on one chance against the Keswick keeper Gary Bailey-Tupper which would have been a very difficult save even for a man who had been stopping shots for fun during previous periods of Wigan pressure.
The final minutes saw Keswick back on the attack, peppering the Wigan defence with a barrage of pressure, but again a combination of great saves, blocked shots and frustrating back post misses sealed the first point of the season for Wigan, and prevented the away team from taking a convoy filled with three points back up the M6 to maintain top spot in the league.
Man of the Match: Robert Owen
Preparations now commence for Keswick’s next league game, a tough Home tie against Didsbury 2’s at 14:15 on 19th November.