Monday, 30 November 2015

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Arnison double helps Workington Reds close in on play-offs spot

Hinckley 1 Workington Reds 2: Workington Reds are set to gatecrash the promotion play-off party after weeks of almost stealthy, unseen progress up the Blue Square North table.

Workington Reds photo
Gareth Arnison

An imposing run of six consecutive away games seemed to have checked the possibility of any late move towards the top five.

But Saturday’s victory at Hinckley – their first in 12 matches against the Leicestershire side – was their third 2-1 win in a row on opposition soil and now they have catapulted into play-off consideration.

Not only are they within touching distance of fifth place, they also have matches in hand which could propel them to fourth.

Manager Darren Edmondson said after this latest success: “Who knows where it is going to end. Our players certainly have the ability to make the play-offs but Viv (Busby) and I wonder at times whether they have the belief.

“The lads were pleased to be 1-0 up at half-time but we had to sit them down and remind them that they should have been well clear and could have put the game to bed.

“When they scored it was nip and tuck for a while but fortunately we came back well and finished strongly to get what I thought was a deserved win.

“We know our record against Hinckley isn’t good but they don’t have the experience or physical presence that they used and I thought we were deserving winners.”

Hinckley looked flat and uninspired in the first half, rarely causing Reds a serious problem, so the Workington team and management was privy to a verbal assault on his players in the next dressing room by United boss Dean Thomas for the solid 15 minutes of the interval.

It certainly worked the trick for Hinckley were more positive and committed after the break, so that when they levelled on 57 minutes we looked set for an interesting last half an hour.

Fortunately Reds also responded and Gareth Arnison’s second goal of the game on 74 minutes spurred them to a determined, controlled finish which could actually have seen them win more handily.

It had been a worrying build-up to the game for Edmondson and Busby as they saw their small squad decimated.

Ryan Bowman was whisked away from the team’s Leicester hotel on the morning of the game to join the Carlisle United squad ahead of Wembley; skipper Tony Hopper had been unable to get away from work in time; Andy Hardman had already quit; Dan Shannon was still on loan at Rossendale and Phil McLuckie was in some doubt with a back problem.

Fortunately McLuckie passed himself fit to play and lasted the full 90 minutes but Edmondson had to pull on a subs shirt himself and call-up Workington-based reserve Adam Main to employ a full bench.

Throughout the game Reds always looked effective and dangerous on the break and they could have gone ahead as early as the fourth minute.

Jonny Wright and skipper Dave Hewson worked an opening on the left for Anthony Wright and he was sent clear on goal but with only keeper Chris MacKenzie to beat his shot slammed the bar on is way into the Reds fans on the terraces behind.

It was a similar beak on 34 minutes along the left which presented Gareth Arnison with the opportunity to give Reds the lead.

Showing great skill, control and aplomb the Reds top marksman cut inside the last defender; then had to go across the keeper as he came out and finally, with two more desperate defenders racing back to cover on the line he produced a clever disguised shot into the bottom corner to wrong-foot both of them.

Tony Caig had only one serious shot to save in the first-half, going down low to hold on comfortably when Andy Hall cut in from the left and tried to fire a right foot shot across the Workington keeper.

But it was a different Hinckley after the break as they showed more aggression, control and purpose.

Workington had to defend solidly but on 54 minutes they were breached. A left wing corner was swung high across the area and home skipper Richard Lavery rose highest to send a header looping over Caig and just under the bar for the equaliser.

It was anybody’s game again after that and Caig produced his best save on 70 minutes when he fisted away a clever shot from Andre Gray after the home striker had turned well in the box and fired in one movement.

There was some controversy when Workington scored their winning goal on 74 minutes. Home defender James Mace as down injured when Reds were allowed to go on and prosper.

McLuckie did well down the right to weep onto a ball and deliver the perfect cross – although just out of the reach of Jonny Wright and home keeper MacKenzie it sat-up off the ground for Arnison to stoop and head home near the far post.

Workington were back in control after that and could have added to their lead on 89 minutes. Unselfish play by substitute Callum Ruttledge set-up Arnison for his hat-trick but from a great position, with only the keeper to beat, he blazed away.

Reds now have the momentum going to challenge strongly for one of the two play-off places seeming to b still on offer – but they still have two more away games to get through before they can take advantage of some home comforts. Bring on Tuesday at Ilkeston!

Reds: Caig, Langford, Rowntree, May, Andrews, Vipond, McLuckie, Hewson (Main 90), J. Wright (Ruttledge 86), Arnison, A. Wright (Hindmarch 51). Subs (not used) Edmondson, Taylor.

Crowd: 395

Referee: Dave Plowright, Clipstone, Notts



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