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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Mwasile and Arnison on target as Workington Reds win at Altrincham

Altrincham 1 Workington Reds 2: After winning the plaudits but not the match in Saturday’s FA Cup-tie, Workington Reds got it right on both counts last night.

Joe Mwasile photo
Joe Mwasile

Playing the same brand of football which had tested Blue Square Premier side Mansfield, the west Cumbrians dented Alty’s hopes of reaching the early play-off places.

A win would have carried in-form Altrincham into fifth spot but it was mainly Workington who looked the side challenging for honours.

Spraying the ball around, finding the spaces and creating chances from the first minute Reds were full value for their 2-0 interval lead.

They just never let the Robins settle into any form of rhythm in the opening 45 minutes, closing them down and competing with a willingness and enthusiasm that has been their trademark when on top of their game.

It was probably as good a 45 minutes as Reds have produced for a long while and the only disappointment was that they hadn’t a bigger lead when they left the field for the break.

Skipper Dave Hewson fired over from a good position inside 30 seconds and he also dispatched a similar opportunity from further out high over the bar.

Mark Boyd had keeper Stuart Coburn scrambling to turn a snap shot round the foot of the post; Jonny Wright hit the top of the bar with a header; Joe Mwasile saw a shot deflected just past the post and James Bolton was inches away from connecting with a header when a corner flew right across the home goalmouth.

Altrincham, by comparison, looked sluggish in thought and deed and created only one serious opening when top scorer Damian Reeves had a shot on the turn well blocked by Aaran Taylor’s legs.

Workington won new admirers among the Altrincham faithful, and at half-time the talk among the Moss Lane regulars was of the Reds’ Zambian winger Mwasile.

Clever control, good balance, lots of trickery, an ability to take on defenders and a player who could also pick a pass, it was an impressive first start by the teenager.

For good measure it was the Morecambe loanee who opened the scoring for Reds after 23 minutes. Set free by a glorious cross-field pass from Wright he hared in on goal. His initial shot came back off Coburn but he had no hesitation in thumping the rebound into the roof of the net.

‘Give it to Joe’ might be a regular shout from the Borough Park regulars on the evidence of this impressive debut.

Reds crucially had the cushion of a second goal in the 44th minute. Again Mwasile was involved with a superb pass behind the central defenders for Gareth Arnison to sweep onto and step inside full-back Shaun Densmore. Committed to the tackle it was late and sent the Workington striker with the referee immediately pointing to the spot.

Arnison dusted himself down, got up and beat the diving Coburn with a well-placed spot kick.

We expected a reaction from Altrincham after their jaded opening half show – and we got it.

Instead of doing their best work in Altrincham territory Workington were having to dig in and defend in their own half. The pressure mounted but still Reds stood firm.

When Altrincham did get their goal on 66 minutes it owed a lot to good fortune. Substitute, 18-year-old Duncan Watmore – believed to be the reason for four Football League scouts being in attendance – tried a shot from the edge of the area.

It was going well wide but found the unmarked Reeves, looking suspiciously offside. But like the efficient goal poacher he is, Reeves wasted no time in quickly drilling the ball into the bottom corner for his 19th of the season.

For a spell Reds had to defend even more doggedly with James Bolton, Kyle May, Hewson and Gari Rowntree all making important tackles or blocks.

But in the last 15 minutes Workington broke the shackles and could have gone clear.

Mwasile had a fierce shot turned onto the bar by Coburn and then the little Zambian hit another screamer which Coburn never saw until it rebounded off the angle of post and bar.

Reds saw it through to collect three valuable points. It’s a win which puts them only four points off a play-off place and if they can maintain this sort of form it has to be onwards and upwards.

Workington Reds: Taylor, Cowperthwaite, Rowntree, May, Bolton, Vaulks, Boyd (Wraighte 74), Hewson, Wright (Connerton 72), Arnison (Brown 86), Mwasile. Subs (not used) Dixon, Simpson.

Referee: R. Jones

Crowd: 638

Star man - Joe Mwasile: Terrific debut, particularly in the first-half when he was a real handful for the home defence. Scored his goal and although he didn’t see as much of the ball in the second half still managed two thundering shots against the bar.

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