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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Workington Reds denied by late Nuneaton strike

Nuneaton 2 Workington Reds 1: This result was as hard to swallow as the rock solid black pudding I was served on the way down at Knutsford services!

Unfortunately it’s becoming a familiar theme – not so much the quality of motorway food – but how Workington aren’t bringing something back from their travels.

Boston, Histon and now Nuneaton have failed on successive trips to yield a single point when there’s no doubt Reds should have, at the very least, returned home with five.

This clash at Liberty Way was probably the most glaring case of Reds not doing their performance justice and even the Nuneaton officials and supporters acknowledge how fortunate their side had been to record the victory.

There’s still plenty of time for Reds to pull away from the danger zone, but if it does go down to the wire manager Darren Edmondson will be haunted by the points that got away at this stage of the season.

When Nuneaton broke to score their 48th minute equaliser, Reds could have been sitting pretty with a four-goal cushion. At 1-1 both sides had their moments, so under the circumstances Edmondson and his assistant Tony Elliott might have settled for the point.

Even that was denied them two minutes from time by a wonder goal from 17-year-old Wesley York who was making his home debut for the Boro.

The teenager, who had been recommended to Nuneaton boss Kevin Wilkin from a club three levels below Blue Square North, was built-up as being pacey and who knew where the goals were!

He couldn’t have underlined those qualities better than with the goal he scored. Brought on to replace Danny Glover on 84 minutes he didn’t take long. Picking up a ball from deep he ran at the Workington defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot from the right hand angle of the area which flew into the top left hand corner like a shell. Joe Hart wouldn’t have got near it, never mind Aaran Taylor, who had earlier covered himself in glory.

The Workington contingent – on and off the pitch – could only shake their heads and wonder about the missed chances which had gone earlier.

Nuneaton had made the brighter start to the game and early hesitancy in the Workington defence almost let in skipper Mark Noon. There was also a very good block by Taylor to keep out a shot from Guy Hadland inside the area.

But when Workington took the lead against the run of play they took charge, and it was in the last 25 minutes of the first-half that they should have put the game beyond their hosts.

Jake Simpson and Mark Boyd produced a neat inter-change along the right and then Jonny Wright took the final pass. He cleverly flicked-up the ball on the edge of the area before volleying a spectacular finish over Neil Collett into the top corner.

It was a great goal by Wright but sadly he was to be the most wasteful player for Reds as they outplayed their hosts and set-up more opportunities.

Boyd had gone close with a thumping drive from the edge of the area, again over Collett, but which came back off the bar.

Then Wright just couldn’t stick out a foot as he arrived late to a clever pass from strike partner Gareth Arnison which arrived invitingly at the far post. Gari Rowntree, too, joined in with a fierce low shot bound for the bottom corner but which hit Hadland and rebounded clear.

But the game also hinged on what happened soon after the restart. Anthony Wright went racing away down the left and produced a peach of a cross behind the retreating Nuneaton defence. Jonny Wright had a virtual tap in on the six yard line but for some reason tried a first touch, which was unsure, and Nuneaton cleared.

Worse was to follow as from that break up field Ben Pugh was sent in on goal and his low cross-cum-shot across the diving Taylor was tucked away at the far post by Lee Moore.

It was fairly end-to-end after that. Taylor made two good blocks, both to deny Pugh as he shot cutting in from the left while Jonny Wright screwed a short-range shot inches past the post.

Then the game’s most bizarre moment. Arnison seized on a weak back pass and went round Collett. He went down momentarily, and from the grandstand side it looked as though he had been tripped by the keeper.

Arnison was up in a flash and went after the ball, which had been pushed wide of the target and was on the way to recovering it and firing home, when the referee blew. Penalty we expected, but in fact he booked the Reds’ striker for diving.

In actual fact Collett didn’t touch Arnison, but neither did the striker dive. He slipped and was just going after the ball again only to be denied a goal-scoring opportunity by the referee’s whistle – rather than Collett!

It was just one of several decisions in the second-half from Ollie Yates which infuriated the Workington players and their management team.

Another was a Nuneaton penalty awarded when Rowntree was adjudged to have taken the legs of Moore in the area. From the spot, however, Taylor distinguished himself again diving to his right to turn Glover’s spot kick onto the post and from there it was toe-ended over the bar by Pugh.

But then, with a draw beckoning boy-wonder York produced his dramatic winner which left Reds devastated.

That black-pudding en-route didn’t spoil the rest of the full English breakfast, but for Reds boss Edmo it’s his forwards’ lack of appetite for goals, which is providing the most food for thought!

Reds: Taylor, Andrews, Rowntree, May, Johnson, Boyd, Simpson (Green 74), Main, J. Wright, Arnison, A. Wright (Snaith 83). Subs (not used) Sloan, McNiven, Blake.

Referee: Ollie Yates (Staffordshire)

Crowd: 712

Star man: Aaran Taylor – Seems at odds with the fact that Reds should have won but the young keeper seems to be at the top of his game and the penalty save was the best of three outstanding stops at crucial times during the game.

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