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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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Inspired Harrogate stopper keeps Reds at bay

Workington 0 Harrogate 0: Still waiting for their first goal, and naturally the first win, Workington Reds could have satisfied both statistics last night.

Only an inspired performance from Harrogate’s new keeper Jim Provett denied Darren Edmondson’s team a deserved victory at Borough Park.

Reds previously came across Provett at Gigg Lane last season when he was beaten by a gorgeous strike from Matthew Berkeley to give Reds hope of an FA Cup shock against Bury.

He looks a sound recruit for the Wetherby Road side as he produced a string of fine stops to keep Town in the game.

Provett made at least six top-class saves, and the easiest was probably the one that should have been buried past him – a penalty by Craig Johnston.

That spot kick came in the 51st minute when Jonny Wright’s heels had been clipped by Ryan Toulson as he made ground into the left side of the area.

Johnston is usually a reliable finisher from the spot but this time he seemed rather hesitant, didn’t fully go through with his strike of the ball and Provett went down to his left to hold on comfortably.

In the first-half Provett had made three important saves to deny Reds a handy interval lead.

The first was probably the best of them all, an acrobatic leap across goal to turn aside a 25-yard screamer from Graham Anthony which seemed bound for the top corner.

His second also denied Anthony after the midfielder had raced onto a loose ball. Jonny Wright had burst through the middle and challenged by two Harrogate players, all three had gone down.

Anthony tried to skip round the Town keeper but was unable to find the room as Provett got enough on the ball to make the block and rescue his side.

Then late in the half it was Provett again who earned the congratulations of his team-mates for an important save. Anthony Wright’s cross was helped on by Jonny Wright and a well-struck shot from Johnston was turned over by the keeper, again in spectacular fashion.

Opposite number Adam Collin – as a fully paid up member of the goalkeepers’ union could only stand back and applaud – but he also had to be on his toes to prevent Harrogate sneaking ahead against the run of play.

Aaron Hardy got away down the right and a cross seemed to have caught Collin off-guard. But the home keeper did well, back pedalling and then leaping to turn the ball onto the bar and beyond. Within a minute of the restart it could have been 1-1. A scramble in the Harrogate box ended with Hardy hammering a clearance against Anthony Wright and the ball rebounded inches the wrong side of the post.

When Harrogate countered from the goal-kick the ball was pulled back invitingly for Danny Holland – the man who always seems to score against Workington – but this time he dragged his shot wide when he would have expected to find the net.

Provett, with another reflex save to turn round a flick from Jonny Wright, again frustrated the home fans. Then after the penalty save he was beaten but the cross-bar came to his rescue.

Dan Kirkup got on the end of a free-kick from Anthony but his header came back off the woodwork.

There was one more save from Provett, this time getting down smartly to hold onto a low shot from Anthony, before Harrogate could have staged a smash and grab raid.

Good work in defence by Phil McLuckie denied substitute Shaun Reay while a curling cross from Matt Young just needed touching to apply the finish but no-one could get on the end of it.

The most encouraging aspect of Workington’s performance was the drive, energy and spark which had been missing at Hinckley was clear to see again.

They dominated the game for long spells, with some tidy football, and the only disappointment was that they couldn’t find a goal from anywhere to collect that first win.

On Saturday Hinckley’s Craig McIlwain was an easy winner of man of the match and this time Jim Provett was an equally comfortable winner of the award.

REDS: Collin, McLuckie, Andrews, May, Kirkup, Johnston (Gullen 85), Anthony, Hewson, J. Wright (Hardman 74), Robinson (Arnison 74), A. Wright. Subs (not used) Rudd, Earl.

REFEREE: Ian Gittins

CROWD: 446

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