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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Workington Reds face Wrexham test after dumping Barrow from FA Trophy

Barrow 0 Workington Reds 3: In 15 months of management Darren Edmondson’s best moments have probably been in knockout football.

Gareth Arnison photo
Gareth Arnison

Last season’s money-spinning runs in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy produced worthy additions to the CV and for the memory-bank.

But none of them compared to last night’s victory at Holker Street when a vibrant Reds performance pitched the west Cumbrians into the last 16 of the FA Trophy.

After weathering an early storm by the Blue Square Premier side, Reds grabbed the lead on 25 minutes and from that moment the nature of the tie changed completely.

In the end Workington were comfortable and deserving winners, reducing their hosts to bit-partroles when all the awards were heading back to west Cumbria.

The new twin towers of Wembley might still be no more than a speck on the horizon but there’s surely a growing belief in the Workington camp that they have the wherewithal to bring them much closer.

“I was delighted with the way the team performed. Viv (Busby) and I have been telling them if they stick together, do what we’re good at and keep working for each other we don’t have to fear anybody,” he said.

Edmondson and Busby had warned beforehand that Barrow would come out positively and forcefully and the opening quarter of the game could be crucial.

That was exactly the case but Reds did not buckle despite being forced onto the back-foot – although there were some close calls.

Very early on former Workington favourite Matt Henney got away rather too easily down the right and a glorious cross found the head of Jason Walker. Adam Collin was quickly down to his right to turn it round the post and keep Reds on terms.

Gari Rowntree had produced goal-line clearances in each of the last two FA Trophy victories – at Tamworth and home to King’s Lynn – so it might have been a good omen when he had to perform the rescue again, not once but twice.

The first from a deep, vicious in-swinging corner from the left and the second when Collin made his only mistake of the night and directed an attempted punched clearance behind him instead of out of the penalty area.

Reds best efforts to get into the game tended to fail because they couldn’t keep the ball in Barrow territory and it was soon back in the Workington half of the field.

But all that changed after 25 minutes when Reds took the lead from the penalty spot.

The hard-running Gareth Arnison had found-out Barrow’s new defender Marcus

Holness and raced clear. After slipping the ball round home keeper Alan Martin he was going past to turn in the opening goal when the highly-rated on-loan custodian chopped his legs.

It looked a stonewall penalty and a definite red card. Referee Jeremy Simpson pointed straight to the spot but the card he produced was unbelievably yellow.

That could have been important in the way the game unfolded but fortunately for Reds point of view had no bearing on the outcome.

Arnison brushed himself down and got up to fire the penalty home to change the course of the game.

From that point Workington clearly grew in confidence and it was as if self doubts were rising all the time in a Barrow side which had showed six changes from the side beaten at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup.

The Reds – who hadn’t played a game since Boxing Day – were lifted and could have been two ahead by the break. A great burst by Phil McKenzie to out-run Barrow’s quickest player Carlos Logan ended with a brilliant pull-back which saw Arnison lunging and sliding in at the far post and just unable to make contact.

Workington dictated the second-half, confident in their ability to hold what Barrow had to offer; and when they scored a super second goal on 54 minutes there seemed to be only one outcome.

Jonny Wright had missed a great chance to double Workington’s lead when strike partner Arnison put him in on goal. His shot was inches outside the post with Martin scrambling.

But Wright made amends minutes later when he linked well down the left hand side with namesake Anthony Wright before whipping in a juicy low cross. Barrow’s defenders were nowhere to be seen as McLuckie came from nowhere into space and scored with the sweetest of first-time finishes into the bottom corner.

Barrow were becoming increasingly frustrated although they did have a great chance after a goalmouth scramble but Collin produced a fine block with his legs to deny Henney from close range.

Generally, though, it was Workington who looked the better side – more

determined, positive and sharper than their hosts and a third goal three minutes from time sent the Barrow fans streaming for the exit.

Shaun Vipond latched onto a Reds clearance over halfway and made good ground down the right. He played an early cross searching for Arnison but Steve McNulty seemed to get there first with a covering header back to his keeper.

It wasn’t strong enough, however and Arnison nipped in to take the ball wide of Martin and fire home from a tight angle with the ball cannoning into the far corner off the near post. Job done!

There were heroes throughout the Workington side – notably Collin and the two central defenders. Barrow have been admirers of both Kyle May and Lee Andrews at a distance for some time now and they saw at close-quarters last night just why they are the best non-league pairing in the north.

Hard-working Vipond and Tony Hopper, along with two-goal Arnison made vital contributions but it was the non-stop energy and determination of young midfielder McLuckie, along with his well-taken goal, which earned him the top individual plaudits.

Workington: Collin, Hewson, Rowntree, May, Andrews, McLuckie (Langford 89), Vipond, Hopper, J. Wright (Hardman 88), Arnison, A. Wright. Subs (not used) Robinson, Edmondson. Referee: Jeremy Simpson, Lancaster Attendance: 1,614

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