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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Workington slide to second defeat against Stalybridge Celtic

Stalybridge Celtic 2 Workington Reds 1: Earlier in the season Workington were almost bankers on the football coupons to win 2-1.

Seven of the first 12 games ended in Reds’ favour by that margin and no wonder the fans’ chant was: “We only win 2-1!”

But as the campaign is well into it’s final dozen contest, Workington are now more likely to lose 2-1 for Saturday’s defeat at Bower Fold was the third in a row by that scoreline.

Yet this was certainly another of these tight contests that should have earned the Cumbrians at least a point, for they had enough chances to win the game themselves.

The inability to finish the opportunities that are presented have held-back the Reds on numerous occasions, which together with the team’s debilitating injuries, have turned the early promise into a battle for mid-table respectability.

The biggest surprise of an entertaining first-half was that there was no break-through goal until a minute before the interval – and that it had to come from the penalty spot.

Celtic had started as if they meant to continue where they left-off at Borough Park in November when they won 5-0.

Twice Adam Kay provided perfect pull-backs from the right-hand side which should have provided early goals but Aaran Taylor made two excellent stops.

The first was from Craig Hobson, who was on the six yard line when he connected and the Reds keeper made a brilliant point blank block. The second saw top-scorer Phil Marsh steam in at the near post but his flick was well parried and then grabbed by Taylor.

As the game developed Workington were getting much joy on the break as they threatened to rip through a scattered Celtic defence.

Jonny Wright was found by a fine clearing ball by Anthony Wright and the striker laid on a neat pass for Gareth Arnison to take in stride. But as he broke into the ar3ea keeper Jan Budtz was out smartly to make the block.

The best chance of all in the half for Reds fell to Conor Tinnion. Jonny Wright headed on for Nick Rogan and he unselfishly laid a pass on for young Tinnion, six yards out. He got his shot away but full-back Andy McWilliams somehow got across to turn it behind for an unfruitful corner.

The breakthrough came on 44 minutes when Workington were caught out by a through ball. Andy Langford tried desperately to make the saving tackle but brought down Hobson in the process and there wasn’t much doubt about the penalty decision.

There was also a case for Langford being the last man but fortunately referee Mike Parry showed only a yellow card.

Marsh made no mistake with the spot kick, perfectly placed into the bottom corner beyond Taylor’s despairing dive.

Penalties are supposed to even themselves out over a season but that was the ninth awarded against the Cumbrians this year, while the Reds have only had one.

They had two shouts in this game. A hand ball inside the area from a shot by Jonny Wright in the first-half, which was probably more ball to hand than the other way round.

But the second shout near the end was much stronger as substitute Andy Murray-Jones was just hurled to the floor by home defender Kristian Platt.

The second-half wasn’t as entertaining as the first but Workington looked secure at the back and posed problems going forward. But it was Celtic who scored the crucial second goal on 77 minutes.

Kay bisected two Workington players on halfway with a pinpoint pass and full-back McWilliams roared into the vacant space. He was allowed to go on before hitting a sweetly struck 30 yarder beyond Taylor into the top corner.

But five minutes later Workington pulled one back when Arnison split the two cent4ral defenders with a good through ball for striking partner Jonny Wright to take in his stride and calmly beat the advancing keeper with a low shot into the bottom corner.

Wright should have salvaged the draw when the ball was lifted into the Stalybridge penalty area by Langford and beat all the defenders. Wright somehow hooked the ball round the post as he turned to try and apply the final touches from close in.

Workington Reds: Taylor, Langford, A. Wright, May, Andrews, Blake (Main 60), Rogan, Hewson (Vipond 81), J. Wright, Arnison, Tinnion (Murray-Jones) 75. Subs (not used) Hindmarch, Sloan.

Referee: Mike Parry, Liverpool

Crowd: 390

Star man: Kyle May - Big performance from the centre-half who virtually won every header and was a key figure in defence for the Cumbrians.

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