KESWICK WEST CUMBRIA 6 – 1 BLACKPOOL
BARNES x 3
This week Wests were looking to bounce back from their defeat to Morecombe against a strong Blackpool side.
Wests suffered their first blip of the campaign last week cancelling out their 3 point lead at the top league and with Blackpool sitting in third place just 3 points behind the Cumbrians, a result for either side would significantly influence the rest of their season: West could go 6 points clear in the race for promotion, Blackpool could be right back in the title challenge.
The two sides had met in the league last year finishing second and third respectively earning both promotion, but the bragging rights on those 2 occasions had gone to the Seasiders collecting 2 victories in 2 tough contests.
Wests once again fielded their usual solid infrastructure but welcomed back Mark Bowen to the first eleven after a long period out through injury.
The game began at a slow tempo with both sides obviously not wanting to leak an early goal focusing on possession retention as a main objective rather than pushing forward on the attack. Surprisingly, for two teams at the top of the league with impressive defensive records, the game was quite open allowing either team more time and space build play up but struggled to create any clear cut opportunities in the early stages although Rikki Barnes did go close on a couple of occasions with neat deflections going inches wide.
The opening goal came midway through the half amid controversial fashion. A Blackpool attack saw the ball fired in to the KWC ‘D’ and nicely deflected goalward via the visiting forward although Harris had the shot covered. The ball however struck the chest of another Blackpool forward deflecting the shot into the net and despite justified appeals, the goal stood and Wests were behind.
This however seemed to waken Wests up and for the remainder of the half took to the game to ‘Pool although were unable to break through a clearly resolute travelling defence, although Desert’s flanked runs caused problems.
The equaliser did come shortly with a mix for good fortune and skill. Wests attacked down the left with Swanston and Cook but were unable to bypass the central defender to collected the ball well and cleared the ball blindly across goal where Mark Proctor lapped up the chance to smash the ball goalward and beat the keeper but was illegally blocked on the goaline and a penalty flick was awarded. Morgan stepped up and cooly netted with apparent ease.
Minutes later the game was turned on its head as Wests took the lead. A swift counter attack for KWC moved the ball across the opposition ‘D’ and the ball broke to Rikki Barnes who, despite having a clear chance at goal, squared the ball unselfishly to the back post for Swanston to lift over the keeper and the line.
Wests continued to dictate the pace of the game but with only a goal breathing space, Fennell and Mattear...again, showed why Wests have one of the best defence records in the league by breaking down any trace of an attack from ‘Pool.
The third came courtesy of Mark Bowen who rolled back the years and rifled the ball against the back board via a short corner routine on the stroke of half time.
Blackpool, clearly stunned, started the second half with a purpose to salvage something from the fixture....but to no avail as 3 quickly became 4 and the game was all but put the rest. Another Wests attack seen the ball drop to Mark Proctor who although could not convert himself, allowed rikki Barnes to lift the ball over the onrushing keeper and keep his impressive season going.
The next fifteen minutes was the most closely contested in the match with tighter marking, more aggression and less focus on attack from KWC as the midfield became to focal point of the battle with Wilson the commander. Time ticked on as the game came to a close and the win looked certain.
Wests however still had time to pile further misery onto their guests. Wests countered a ‘Pool attack and Cook picked up the ball and drove forward before playing a sublime through ball to Morgan to advance in on gaol. Morgan then teed up Barnes for an elegant finish to top off a perfect counter attack, under-lining what the team is capable of.
In the last couple moments Cook intercepted a cross field pass and drove forward with purpose towards the ‘D’ and after dragging the solitary defender away from goal while Barnes intelligently pulled away from the keeper, the space was made for Cook’s throughball and Barnes completed his hat-trick as Wests emphatically picked up the win.