MOSSLEY HILL 2 – 5 KESWICK WEST CUMBRIA
COOK x 2
BARNES x 3
This week Wests travelled to Mossley for their final league game before the Christmas break aiming to end the first half of the season on a high.
Having already squared off against each other this season, each side knew what to expect from their counter-parts setting up the contest to be an interesting one.
In the reverse fixture Wests had picked up the points with an impressive 6-0 victory although with the game being a goalless draw until the second half, the scoreline did not reflect the threat Mossley pose and KWC were under no illusion that todays game would be no easy feat.
Wests fielded the same squad as last week following their impressive dissection of Blackpool with every player earning their spot.
The game began at a frantic pace with Wests doing all the running and controlling possession nicely although did give the ball away cheaply through unforced errors rather than opposition pressure allowing Mossley to build their own momentum.
Wests needed an early goal to settle the nerves and put a stamp on the game and thats exactly what they got. Dessert and Morgan worked well together down the right flank allowing Morgan to infiltrate the Mossley ‘D’ and square the ball across to Rob Cook to slot home.
Wests continued to dominate all areas of the pitch and although Mossley provided resilience, Wests doubled the lead 10 minutes later. A defensive clearance was played up to Cook who offloaded into the patch of the onrunning Swanston and after driving forward, set up Barnes for a crisp finish.
Mossley began to dig deep and created their own chances as the half wore on; half chances to begin with but 2 separate free shots on goal could not be converted which could have easily changed the course of the half.
As Wests rode their luck it appeared Mossley had none as they fell further behind. Wests won a short corner and after the initial shot was saved, Cook followed up and despite brave goalkeeping keeping the ball out twice more, Cook eventually nestled the ball in the net for a 3-0 scoreline.
Wests netted a fourth on the stroke of halftime, Cook completing his hat-trick...but saved as the ball roled back to Barnes, dubiously the whistle was blown as the attacker wound up for the shot ,ending the half and keeping the lead to 3.
With Wests having a firm grip on the game, leading by 3 and in perfect control of teh tie, the decision was taken almost in jest, however almost influenced the game.
Mossley came out for the second half with new found purpose in the face of the reprieve and within minutes had pulled a goal back. A fine finish from a well struck cross.
Wests, unnecessarily, seemed to be rattled and spent the next 10 minutes on the ropes as Mossley set wave upon wave of attack on the KWC goal. Mattear and Fennell were their usual reliable selves and lapped up the most dangerous of situation with what looked like ease. Wests tried to utilise the counter attack but too often gave away possession and invited the pressure back on themselves.
This pressure eventually resulted in a short corner which in turn resulted in a goal for Mossley and the hosts were firmly back in the game. The potential four goal lead was now reduced to just one in a mere 20 minute spell.
For the neutral, the game was enticing however on the pitch it was anxious. Wests had the lead but Mossley had the momentum.
Wests eventually doused the flames of the Mossley phoenix and began to architect their own strategy again and clawed their way back in the command seat.
The next goal in the game was crucial for either side and Wests looked more likely to find it Mark Bowen rounded the keeper but fired wide, Rikki Barnes had an elegant flick over the keeper cleared off the line and Swanston had a shot saved well as the visitors searched for breathing space.
As the game neared the end Wests finally got their reward, Rikki Barnes grabbing his second of the afternoon collecting the ball with his back to goal and effortlessly sliding the ball under the onrushing keeper on the turn.
At the death, Barnes completed his hat-trick and ended the contest with a tap in at the back post to secure the points for Wests.
With other results going their way, Wests remain top of the league but now have a 3 point lead on the chasers. The perfect half season complete, the real tests begin after xmas.