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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Rampant Reds crush Stalybridge Celtic

Stalybridge Celtic 1 Workington 4: Brian Carey, on a watching brief from Wrexham will have food for thought to take back to boss Dean Saunders ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy tie.

He witnessed another outstanding performance from a Workington side which has blossomed over the last few weeks and was recording a third successive victory – all achieved in impressive fashion.

Twelve goals scored and only one conceded has seen Reds dump Blue Square Premier Barrow out of the FA Trophy, hammer form side Gainsborough 5-0 and then out-class sixth in the table Stalybridge on their own patch.

But before manager Darren Edmondson and his on-song players can think about the tasty challenge against Wrexham they have another big league test on Wednesday night when they travel to take on free-scoring Gateshead.

Reds hadn’t won away in the League before Saturday and Celtic, despite their lofty position, had won only twice in the League at Bower Fold so a draw might have been the predicted result beforehand.

Workington led 2-0 at the break but that could so easily have been doubled as a number of good chances went begging.

Gareth Arnison, again lively and dangerous throughout, was put through early on but shot straight at the advancing goalkeeper Paul Phillips. Then later in the half he went round the keeper but was forced wide and his angled shot struck a defender and rebounded to the stranded Phillips.

But Adam Collin was not a by-stander in all this as he had to make two excellent saves to keep Stalybridge at bay. He went full-length to turn behind a fierce low drive from Stalybridge skipper Keith Briggs, easily their best player and then he did well to turn over a well-struck angled drive from Matt Barlow.

It all added-up to an entertaining contest, but the key component for Workington at the moment is that they do look capable of scoring every time they attack as Jonny Wright and Arnison spearhead a potent strike force.

Not for the first time these two were involved in the opening goal on 12 minutes. Arnison picked up a ball just inside the Stalybridge half and ran at two defenders, evading their challenges before threading a perfect pass through to the unmarked Jonny Wright who scored with a perfectly placed shot beyond Phillips into the far corner.

On 21 minutes it was the turn of Anthony Wright to provide Workington with their second delightful finish of the afternoon.

Latching onto a loose ball 30 yards out he hit a first-timer over the stranded Phillips who could only watch it sail into the gaping net behind him.

Workington had to change the line-up at half-time because of an injury to midfielder Shaun Vipond – a sore shin from a kick picked up in a trial game during the week for Hamilton.

Initially, new recruit Andy Langford slotted into the midfield role as not to disrupt the solid back-four but fairly quickly he was switched to full-back and skipper Dave Hewson moved into the engine room.

At full-back the former Morecambe reserve team skipper showed why Edmondson regards him as a very good footballer.

It was a raking cross-field pass – right on the money –from Langford which put Arnison clear on 62 minutes and this time he made no mistake, drilling the ball past Phillips.

Stalybridge were offered brief hope with a good finish by Nathan Joynes on 77 minutes when his first time volley to a left wing cross gave Collin no chance. But Workington were still looking lively when they did get forward and after Jonny Wright hit the bar with a shot from well out on the right, they scored a fourth on 89 minutes.

Again it was Langford playing a great long pass down the right which was chased into the corner by Dan Robinson. He did well to cut in and then lay a perfect low pass for Andrew Hardman to steer home from close range. It was a case of all three substitutes combing to score the goal which cemented a fine victory.

But if the goals are flying in, to catch the eye, the defensive work – collectively as a team – was once again a feature of the Reds performance.

One moment typified the commitment. Stalybridge enjoyed their best sustained spell at the start of the second half and fashioned a half chance which was denied by a superb block by centre-half Kyle May who literally threw himself in the way of the shot.

Now for Gateshead on Wednesday – a clash between the form tables second and third teams. It should be a cracker to grace to International Stadium.

MATCH FACTS

Reds: Collin, Hewson, Rowntree, May, Andrews, McLuckie, Vipond (Langford 45), Hopper, J. Wright (Robinson 88), Arnison, A. Wright (Hardman 86). Sub (not used) Edmondson.

Star man: Kyle May

Referee: Rob Newman, Barnsley

Crowd: 659

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