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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Injury time goal ends brave Workington Reds' trophy dream

Stevenage Borough 2 Workington Reds 1: Workington Reds’ Wembley dream turned into a nightmare when FA Trophy holders Stevenage came from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Reds’ defended bravely throughout the match but the lads slumped to the floor when

Stacy Long smashed home a 94th minute winner to dump them out of the competition at the quarter final stage.

It was Long’s second goal of the game but boss Darren Edmondson believes the free kick that lead to the heartache at the death was “soft”.

Long and Stevenage benefited from the call by Nottinghamshire official David Coote as the midfielder bundled home the winner at the far post.

Stevenage were a big, strong side and their physicality could cost Reds the service of two key players.

First, keeper Tony Caig was forced off with medial ligament damage and he was followed into the dressing room by winger Anthony Wright, who took a nasty knock to the head.

Reds were boosted before the game with news that influential striker Jonny Wright had passed a fitness test after being almost certain to miss out. The Borough Park club took a surprise lead against the run of play midway through the first half.

It was a beautifully created goal with striker Gareth Arnison skipping past his man down the left wing, his neat one-two with Shaun Vipond allowed the striker to cross for midfielder Phil McLuckie to tap the ball into an unguarded net from close range.

They had other chances to score but McLuckie miscued his shot, allowing Michael Bostwick to clear the danger off the goal-line.

Arnison almost doubled the lead but Anthony Wright’s left flank cross was just too high and the danger was cleared.

At the back, the defence needed to be on top form and Gari Rowntree made sure the score stayed at 1-0 with a great block on the line to deny Borough captain Mark Roberts.

Stevenage piled on the pressure and had more chances to level before the break.

Mark Bridges was guilty of missing the target just before the interval when he collected a Lee Andrews clearance but with just Caig to beat he missed the target.

Reds started the second half brightly and Anthony Wright could and should have doubled their advantage within a minute of the restart.

Vipond’s right wing centre found Wright unmarked at the far post but his first time effort flew just over the bar and into the 234 travelling fans.

That miss proved costly as Stevenage rallied and almost drew level on 50 minutes when top scorer Yemi Odubade’s shot came back off Caig’s legs and onto Andrews with the ball rebounding onto the cross bar before being cleared to safety.

However, the unbeaten home side did manage to tie the game on 54 minutes when Long picked up the ball on the right of the box, cut inside and curled the ball into the far corner giving Caig no chance.

Caig was then replaced after a clash in the box. After feeling the affects of a hit to the head, he landed awkwardly on his knee.

Young shot-stopper Aaran Taylor came on for his first appearance of the season and impressed with a couple of quality saves.

Afterwards, doctors told Caig that he has suffered medial ligament damage and could be out for some time.

Back on the pitch and Odubade’s quick feet then gifted him a chance to put Borough in front but he dragged his shot wide after beating Kyle May. The home side’s pressure was becoming relentless and substitute Lee Boylan smashed over from inside the box with seven minutes of normal time left.

Seven more minutes were shown by the fourth official once the clock hit 90. The added time came after lengthy injuries to May, Anthony Wright and Caig.

Reds substitute Ryan Bowman had a chance to fire the visitors into the lead but he was unable to get enough power on his shot and it went wide.

Stevenage continued to push for a winner and were awarded a free kick midway inside the Reds half in the 94th minute

The ball in bobbled around the penalty area before Long netted to break Workington hearts.

The final whistle brought cheers of relief from the FA Trophy holders but scenes of dejection and misery for the Reds players were seen from the terraces.

Edmondson rallied his troops in a huddle before clapping the fans that had spent more than six hours travelling the 307 miles to Stevenage.

Team: Caig (Taylor 65), Langford, Rowntree, May, Andrews, Vipond, McLuckie, Hopper, J Wright, Arnison (Bowman 59), A Wright (Hindmarch 86).

Subs not used: Hardman, Hewson.

Attendance: 1,510 with 234 travelling Reds fans.

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)

Star man: No-one playing in the blue shirt of Workington deserved to lose with the defensive pairing of Kyle May and Lee Andrews superb throughout the match. They battled hard, won their headers and timed their tackles to perfection.

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