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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Workington Reds end barren run to win at Stafford

Stafford Rangers 0 Workington Reds 2: There was a great sense of relief after this overdue win but also a large amount of satisfaction in the Workington camp over a job well done.

Adam Main photo
Adam Main

As their league position indicates, Stafford are not a good side but with Reds going to Marston Road without a win for nine games or a goal in their last eight, there would have been some belief among the hosts that they could kick-start their own season.

But in truth they never seriously troubled the Cumbrians and this was a more comfortable victory than the scoreline might suggest.

It was a win which was shaped by the high work-rate among the whole team - from rookie midfielder Adam Main to new boy Tom Smyth and long-serving defender Kyle May.

Main has been given his chance by manager Darren Edmondson, who believes he has tremendous potential and he is growing in stature match by match.

He’s a young man who doesn’t shirk responsibilities, covers the ground, uses the ball well and can put his foot in when it’s practical.

He was outstanding on Saturday in a vibrant midfield where Dave Hewson and Shaun Vipond revved up the engine-room department and Phil McLuckie and Anthony Wright provided width and pace down the flanks.

The five in midfield, with Gareth Arnison the lone striker, was a formation which was basically thrust on the Reds management duo when Jonny Wright missed out again and Matty Tymon headed off to West Auckland.

Edmondson likes the system and, as he reflects on a job well done at Marston Road, he can tick off most of the boxes which provide the template for this formation.

Smyth was waiting at the ground when Workington arrived, not having met his new team-mates never mind trained or played alongside them.

It did not take him long to slip comfortably into the line-up and go on to make a solid contribution and a very steady debut.

Two early one-on-one tackles head-on to stop a potentially tricky winger gave him the ascendancy he was looking for over his opponent and he went on to impress in most areas of his game.

He even has a good long throw, perhaps not a Rory Delap-type weapon but as good as Reds have had since Craig Johnston.

And why was May singled-out as well? Because it was really great to see him back to his imposing, dominant best at the heart of the Workington defence.

A rock for Workington over the years, May has been regularly an eight or nine-out-of-10 man every week but this season there have been more sevens on the card and, whisper it, a couple of sixes.

He and Lee Andrews, at the top of their game, are the best central defensive partnership in the league and there were signs on Saturday they were getting there again, though clearly there will be tougher tests than Stafford offered.

Arran Taylor was afforded plenty of protection by his back four, with Andy Langford switched to left-back to accommodate new boy Smyth on the right, and had few serious stops to make.

There was one early on when he went down to hold a shot by Sean Kinsella at the second attempt and then, late in the game, he did well to dive at the feet of James Ellison when he was put clear by a ball over the top.

Taylor had also cleaned up Ellison in the first half when he raced out of his area to try and head clear, only to miss the ball and clatter into the Stafford striker. Fortunately for the Reds and their keeper the flag was already raised for offside against Ellison.

Workington’s goal drought had been ended after 13 minutes with a successful penalty.

McLuckie was racing into the box from the right when he was tripped and there was never any doubt that referee Mick Bell would point to the spot.

Arnison made no mistake, drilling the ball into the bottom corner with Hungarian keeper Robert Ambrusics going the wrong way.

The second goal came on the half-hour mark. A throw from Smyth was headed on and Anthony Wright was left unmarked in front of goal and from six yards gleefully thumped the ball past the helpless Ambrusics.

Reds created more genuine shooting opportunities in the second half with Arnison twice bringing Ambrusics to his knees and also firing high over the bar but there was no further addition to the scoreline.

Reds: Taylor, Langford, Smyth, May, Andrews, Vipond, Main, Hewson (Blake 82), Arnison (Murray-Jones 89), A Wright (Tinnion 82), McLuckie. Subs (not used) White, Hindmarch.

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