After their impressive victory against Brigg in the cup last week, KWC returned to league action away against Didsbury against a side currently matching the Cumbrians in the campaign.
Having beaten Blackpool and Brigg over the past couple of weeks, Keswick seem to have put their slip in form behind them and rekindled their aim for promotion.
Last season this tie played out a competitive draw although only a last minute Harris penalty flick save ensured KWC returned home with a share of the spoils and with that in mind, KWC would have been right in approaching the fixture with caution.
For the first time in recent memory, Keswick travelled without 3 key individuals as they were without Bowen, Fennell and skipper Morgan, although Peter Sutton retained his position after his fine display last week.
The game started very openly for KWC as they constantly found themselves in space allowing the ball to be moved around with unusual ease, which in turn allowed KWC to piece together attacks quickly and although Didsbury defended well, KWC were already knocking at the door.
KWC continued to find space and their counter attacking momentum made the necessary passes the easy option and were unlucky not to break the deadlock through Cook’s rasping strike which flew past the helpless keeper only to see it thunder back off the post and out safety.
Cook however found the goal his last effort deserved moments later by slapping the ball high into the net above the diving keeper after the ball was cut back from the goal line to give the visitors a well deserved lead.
This however seemed to rattle Didsbury as they then became more assertive in their own attacks and pushed forward with greater purpose and were rewarded with an equaliser, albeit with a large slice of luck. As the ball entered the KWC ‘D’, Harris diverted the ball clear but fell kindly to an opposing player who laid off the ball for his team-mate for a simple finish.
Didsbury now had the momentum and pushed forward more but when Keswick broke down their attacks, frustration crept in and a couple tasty challenges were made eventually resulting in the dismissal of a player for a 10 minute period. Keswick capitalised almost immediately. Clive Swanston playing a sublime 20 yard through ball for Seth Fletcher to run onto a deflect past the keeper for deserved regained lead.
However, lightning struck twice as Didsbury once again levelled with another soft strike which although lacked power, crept just inside the post to take the score at half time to 2-2.
After the break, both sides felt they had the game for the taking as both pushed forward at every given opportunity however defender equally assertive when on the back foot. Makeshift centre back Paul Sloan played like a veteran and was aided at every opportunity by the commanding Chris Mattear.
The next goal was crucial and thankfully it fell for Keswick. Swanston intercepted a stray ball and played Fletcher in once again who cut the ball back for Cook to connect and slot past the keeper at his near post.
KWC finally gave them selves a bit of breathing space with another swift counter attack and Cook was once again an integral part. After being set up for a one on one, the stand in skipper chipped the ball up for himself and lobbed the onrushing keeper towards the goal however was denied his superb hat trick by the post yet again although Mark Proctor showed his predatory instincts with the follow up.
What should have been plain sailing from there on in turned into rocky waters when Didsbury once again fumbled their way into the KWC and slotted home to cut the visiting lead back to one.
The remainder of the game was a midfield battle which was fortunate for Keswick as they had Shaun Wilson there to cut out and break down oncoming attacks with apparent ease.
The result was finally made safe with moments to go. A short corner routine broke down but Mark Proctor collected the ball and rifled it towards goal where after a deflection; fell kindly to the well placed Barnes to seal the three points.