Cartmel started the inter-college A league football season in fine style with a 5-0 victory over rivals Lonsdale. Although Lonsdale strung together some attractive possession football, they were unable to deal with the pace and power of the Cartmel attack.
The opening stages of this contest were decidedly scrappy, with both teams adjusting to the tricky surface and clearly short of match practice. Both defences were forced to resort to route one clearances early on as neither side looked entirely comfortable on the ball.
However, it was Cartmel that settled first and they duly opened the scoring on six minutes; an incisive through-ball gave Brown the chance to deliver a pinpoint cross for Carr to slot home at the back post. At this point the game was still highly competitive and Lonsdale threatened to grab a quick equalizer. A period of concerted pressure resulted in Needham in the Cartmel goal tipping the ball over via a post, to the relief of his teammates.
The failure to convert pressure into goals was to haunt Lonsdale just moments later. An exquisite long pass from Bury was seized upon by Carr, who rammed home with confidence to put Cartmel 2-0 up after just 15 minutes. This goal clearly affected Lonsdale’s morale, their passing became erratic and they were unable to threaten the Cartmel goal for large periods of play.
It seemed inevitable that Lonsdale would fall further behind and when Leatham delivered a quick corner to find Brown in acres of space, there was only one outcome. A firm header found its way past a stranded Al-Hendi in the Lonsdale net to give Brown the goal that his performance merited.
Just when a capitulation looked likely however, Lonsdale came back strongly and finished the half the better team. A string of set pieces caused chaos in the Cartmel area and only a heroic block from Humphreys denied Ackroyd a certain goal with virtually the last kick of the first period.
Cartmel reorganised at the break, with a 4-4-2 formation employed to stifle the game and deny Lonsdale space in the wide areas. The plan appeared successful as 15 minutes passed without major incident, the game largely fought out in a congested middle third of the field. That was until Lonsdale squandered their best opportunity to find a route back into the game on 68 minutes. A floated corner was poorly dealt with by the Cartmel defence, the ball deflecting invitingly for Lonsdale into the path of their centre half, who proved why he plays in defence by lashing over the bar with the goal gaping.
Having weathered this storm, Cartmel retook the initiative and forced Lonsdale onto the back foot once more. Two quick strikes ended any hopes of a dramatic comeback; first Humphreys with a cushioned volley to notch a rare goal and then Leatham added a fifth on his debut after more fine work from Brown. Cartmel then proceeded to miss further glorious opportunities with weak finishes before referee Holden brought the game to a close.
Whilst this game may have provided Lonsdale with a footballing lesson for large parts, there are certainly positives to take into their game against Furness. Their passing football is certainly an improvement on last season’s direct approach and a two pronged attack will yield a greater return of goals. As for Cartmel, they have set a marker for the rest of the league, and with County beating Fylde on the opening day the race for the league title looks set to be an exciting affair.