GSK SOUTH LAKES 0 – 3 KESWICK WEST CUMBRIA
COOK x 2
This week, Wests made the relatively short drive South of the county to face local arch rivals GSK South Lakes in a fixture that always promises entertainment and drama and never fails to deliver either.
Its been close to 3 years since this fixture has been down as a league contest with the pathways of both clubs being very different, but ultimately arriving at the same destination; GSK have encountered promotion followed by relegation last season while Wests have made a steady rise back to Div 3 hockey since their fall from grace seasons earlier.
However, stereotypical hypothesis would suggest newly promoted sides struggling against their new level of opposition while the sides that drop down should bounce straight back up – this could not be more wrong in the case of these two squads today. Wests sit comfortably joint top of the league boasting a 100% undefeated record while GSK have still to register a point. The comparison between the two seems somewhat surreal.
However the GSK squad is solid and most of their defeats have only seen them on the wrong side of a single goal so Wests had no doubt that this was not going to be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination.
Wests travelled with what could be described as their strongest squad while also welcoming back Paul Randall from injury although Peter Sutton was out.
The game began as expected for Wests with Glaxo coming out of the traps early and making all the early running. Wests however began the game uncharacteristically (particularly based on this season), sloppy and the number of misplaced passes and loss of possession was notable having the doubly detrimental effect of not being able to build an attack while inviting unnecessary pressure back onto themselves.
GSK looked the more threatening in the opening exchanges and forced a number of short corners which were well absorbed by the travelling defence and a couple of half chances in particular a sliding back-post effort that the GSK forward was unlucky not to connect with.
Wests began to find their stride in parts and were, as standard, dangerous on the counter attack. Cook’s jinxing dribbles and Proctors surges brought contrasting cards to the table and were played when the hand was right breathing fresh inspiration into KWC. This, matched with the formidable and ever consistent pairing of Mattear and Fennell, gave a strong infrastructure to the formation and enhanced the notion that Wests are becoming a complete unit.
GSK were also standing firm though and no real clear cut opportunities could be created by either side as the game was controlled dominantly in the midfield however the opening goal did arrive on the stroke of halftime.
Wests broke forward again and entered the GSK ‘D’ were the ball broke to Mark Proctor to lash a strike towards goal but was blocked well by the defensive line. Shaun Wilson however made an exceptional tackle to win possession and shoot himself only for Mark Hutchinson to parry the ball away from goal but only into the path of Clive Swanston to swipe the ball into the bottom corner and claim the lead for Wests at the break. Cue avid celebration.
GSK seem determined after the break not to let another single goal cost them dearly, especially when these three points had the added incentive of bragging rights attached.
Pushing forward the home side did muster some form of mild dominance but did begin to focus the majority of their attacks via one channel and Elliot Desert was superb on a number of occasions who, again with Mattear and Fennell, maintained a level of professionalism in their defensive duties.
Wests continued to soak up the pressure and when appropriate, countered, and obtained their reward ten minutes into the half.
Morgan, Proctor and Dessert played nice intricate passing down the right before taking the ball to the by-line and fizzing a ball across goal for Rob Cook to add a touch of flair and get a delicate glance on the ball which was enough to deceive the GSK keeper and defence and nestle in the bottom corner.
The remainder of the game seen Glaxo continuing to push for a way back into the game and try desperately to salvage at least a point and although they did have spells of the upper hand, the most they could manage was a couple of short corner routines and when one of these set-ups broke down, Wests were on the attack again. Morgan cleared the danger to Barnes who held up the ball well and offloaded to Rob Cook who evaded 2 challenges and then the rounded the keeper and slot home for the third.
Glaxo were denied a consolation goal in the final moments when Dave Harris kept out a top corner shot with could have been his only save of the game but were spared conceding a fourth in the final seconds when an overloading KWC could not convert their easiest chance of the game.
Wests continue their impressive start to the campaign but will be sternly put to the test in the coming weeks playing the top 4 sides around them. Just a good start, or genuine league contenders?