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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Classy Tamworth too good for Workington Reds

Workington Reds 1 Tamworth 4: A reality check or eleven minutes of madness? Probably a bit of both as Workington’s decent run of form was ended at Borough Park.

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Double U-turn: Graham Anthony is off to Penrith

Tamworth went top with this victory, and for a side who had only been beaten once in 15 previous games, it was a product of their blossoming confidence.

To be fair they started rather hesitantly and for a while didn’t look to have the footballing technique of Gateshead, who had succumbed to the Reds four days earlier.

But it soon became apparent that they did have more steel and application than the north east side and once they got their noses in front early in the second-half looked deserving promotion challengers.

Progress up the Blue Square North table has raised the bar of expectation levels at Borough Park, despite the financial cut-backs that have been made, but the second-half of this contest demonstrated just how high the summit will be.

In the end Tamworth looked a very good side and it will be interesting to see how they negotiate Barrow next Saturday in the final qualifying round of the FA Cup.

For Reds it was more a case of what might have been - if they had not conceded the equaliser just before the break and if goal-scorer Gareth Arnison had doubled his tally when he had the opportunity to make it 2-0 soon after the re-start.

Of such ifs and buts are football matches won and lost, and round which countless post-match discussions revolve.

Manager Darren Edmondson said: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that we were playing the best team in the League, or certainly the best we have met so far.

“I was disappointed with the way in which we conceded the goals and with just a little bit of luck could have been 2-0 ahead.

“They say goals change matches and that was certainly the case in this one.

“It’s important now that we get the players’ heads-up on Tuesday at training and get back into the run of form we were showing before Tamworth. I think these players will bounce back ok from a disappointment like this.”

Last season Workington were 5-0 up inside 27 minutes, and although there wasn’t another goal in what followed it left a deep impression on the Tamworth management.

Boss Gary Mills came north determined to avoid a repeat and the only 5-0 scoreline at half-time on this occasion was the corner count in Reds favour.

Workington had gone in front, though, on 22 minutes and the anxious way Mills was taking regular sips of his touchline water suggested he might be fearing a repeat.

Graham Anthony threaded a fine ball through for Arnison to take in stride, step inside a challenge and then fire a first time shot from the edge of the area beyond the diving David Bevan into the bottom corner.

Tamworth gradually started to find their rhythm and there were occasions when only some determined blocking by Workington defenders prevented them from giving Adam Collin a torrid time.

But the equaliser, when it came, was from distance – some 30 yards – yet there was still a view that Nick Wright should have been closed down.

In any event he struck a splendid, dipping shot over Collin and just under the bar for the Lambs’ leveller.

It changes the respective team-talks for both Edmondson and Mills, but within minutes of the restart Arnison could have restored the Workington lead.

He did ever so well to twist and turn his way into the area to create a chance but with only Bevan to beat he drilled is shot over the bar.

Then it all went wrong as Tamworth scored three times in 11 minutes to effectively wrap up the game.

Workington didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory in defence, the watertight rearguard which hadn’t conceded in four successive matches until Tuesday, was sliced open too easily.

First Bradley Pritchard fired home after a break-out from their own penalty area had caught-out the home side on 55 minutes.

Three minutes later a shot from Pritchard was turned aside by Collin diving full length to get onto it but Alex Rodman was first to react, driving the loose ball into the top corner.

It got worse for Reds on 66 minutes when some superb inter-passing from mid-field, sparked by the excellent Martin Foster ended with Gareth Sheldon thumping his shot past Collin.

Workington never seriously looked like clawing anything back after that and Tamworth could positively cast half-written headlines – Lambs to the Slaughter and Silence of the Lambs – to the dustbin.

MATCH FACTS

Star Man: Kyle May did well despite the scoreline and was a determined and positive figure for the Reds, while Gareth Arnison – his miss apart – also did a lot of good things for the Reds after his goal.

Reds: Collin, Hewson, Rowntree, May, Andrews, Vipond, Anthony (McLuckie 73), Hopper, Arnison, Robinson (Johnston 73), A. Wright (Hardman 84). Subs (not used): Kirkup, Edmondson.

Referee: Andy Newell

Attendance: 403.

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