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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Mean Workington Reds keep AFC Telford at bay - but still can't score

AFC Telford 0, Workington 0: It's now 419 minutes since the opposition scored a goal against Workington Reds.

kylemay
Star Man: Kyle May

If you ignore the penalties at Harrogate last Tuesday in the FA Cup shoot-out the last person to score past Adam Collin was Solihull’s Marcus Palmer in the 61st minute of the game at Borough Park over three weeks ago.

That water-tight defence ensured Workington left Telford with their fourth successive clean sheet to register a very good away point against one of the Blue Square North’s high fliers.

So far so good. The other side of the coin, however, is glaringly obvious – since Gareth Arnison fired his second goal a minute after half-time against Solihull Workington have played 434 minutes without finding the back of the net.

It’s a conundrum which manager Darren Edmondson is happy to work on – how to maintain the discipline and solidarity at the back; encourage the hard-work from the men immediately in front of his defence and, at the same time, find some added punch at the sharp end.

“Obviously I have to be happy and look at how we are not conceding goals. People might tend to think that because I am a defender I encourage us to be defensive, but that isn’t the case.

“I think we have some young players further forward and in some ways they are still learning the game at this level. We are creating opportunities, playing some decent football and picking up points.

“I thought we looked very comfortable in defence against Telford and really over the 90 minutes we deserved to get all three points,” he said.

It hadn’t looked too promising in the early stages, as for 15 minutes or so the Reds looked jaded and weary, possibly a throw-back to their exertions at Harrogate in midweek.

But they came through that and for the next hour of the game were the better side – harassing Telford in possession, playing with a lot of energy and determination around the pitch and creating opportunities to break the deadlock.

Mind you there was an awkward moment in the first minute of the game when Liam Blakeman twisted and turned his way into the area before going down under a challenge from Lee Andrews. It looked a fair shout but referee Colin Rushton was having none of it.

Having ignored that, Mr Rushton then waited until the 61st minute before he awarded a free kick against the Reds for foul play. That has to be some kind of record – especially with Workington being the away team.

If that suggested a too-nice approach by the Reds it wasn’t true as they worked very hard, challenged strongly but fairly and through pressing Telford in all areas of the pitch forced Telford into errors.

Collin had two good stops to make in the half – one full length to hold a 25-yard drive from Jon Adams and the second doing exceptionally well to keep hold of a thundering strike from Lee Moore which was straight into his midriff but with such power it threatened to lift him off his feet.

Workington kept Telford keeper Ryan Young busy and they could have had a two goal lead at the break.

First it was a nicely flighted ball in from the left by Anthony Wright which saw Phil McLuckie bursting through into the area, stretching manfully to guide it into the net but just unable to control the shot and spooning it over the bar from six yards.

Then a free kick from Shaun Vipond was lifted into the Telford box and Tony Hopper, as he has done on several occasions in the past, arrived late to make contact but headed just over the bar.

Workington forced a series of corners at the start of the second-half without being able to strike a telling blow but it was developing into an end-to-end affair with Workington defending very competently.

The longer the game went, Reds had to rely on quick counter attacks and it looked a likely route when they broke three onto two but substitute Andy Hardman was just undone by a fine saving tackle by Gavin Cowan as he had Gareth Arnison well placed to his left.

Telford had two opportunities to win the game in the last five minutes – and both fell to free-scoring Terry Fearns.

The first, from ten yards, he fired against the outside of the post and the second he tried an exaggerated bicycle kick when left in space beyond the far post, and smashed the shot into the crowd.

Collin, and the four defenders in front of him, were all outstanding for the Reds and there was plenty of effort ahead of them – but a special word for Shaun Vipond, well into his second month on loan from Carlisle United.

He has taken time to settle into the League but is starting to adjust, adapt and shine. He started to flourish in the second-half and onwards at Harrogate and continued in that vein against Telford.

There’s starting to be more hunger about his ball-winning duties and a consistent precision about his passing.

MATCH FACTS

Star Man - Kyle May: magnificent, almost faultless in an outstanding Workington defence – which at the moment is the meanest in Blue Square North.

Reds: Collin, Hewson, Rowntree, May, Andrews, McLuckie (Kirkup 90), Vipond, Hopper, Robinson (Hardman 85), Arnison, A. Wright. Subs (not used) J. Wright, Edmondson.

Crowd: 1,753

Referee: Colin Rushton, Stone

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