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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Hopper awesome as Workington Reds turn over Harrogate Town

Harrogate Town 0 Workington 1: Workington Reds’ remarkable up-turn in fortunes away from west Cumbria continued at Harrogate’s CNG Stadium.

Tony Hopper photo
Tony Hopper

Without an away win in Blue Square North until January 24 the Reds have now collected three victories out of their last four trips out of the county.

That little sequence has virtually assured Reds of playing at the same level next season even though their home form has not been anywhere near as exemplary in the same period.

But last night’s success was gained at a cost as Darren Edmondson’s thin red line was stretched even further with injuries to Andy Langford and Phil McKenzie.

Langford limped off after only five minutes with an ankle injury while McLuckie, who had gone into the game with a chest infection, was eventually replaced because of a groin injury six minutes from the end.

“If they don’t make it for the week-end we are going to be really struggling for numbers against Alfreton,” said Edmondson whose side will then face the prospect of playing five games in 11 days.

The goal that won the contest last night came as early as the third minute and was an exquisite finish from Anthony Wright.

An early free kick on the edge of the area after Andy Cook had been bundled over allowed Wright to display his dead-ball accuracy. A lovely, flighted

free kick over the wall curled away into the far corner leaving keeper Jon Hedge rooted to the spot.

It proved to be the only goal in 390 minutes of football between the two sides this season with Harrogate earning their victory in the FA Cup from a penalty shoot-out.

Town had plenty of possession throughout the first-half but rarely got in a position to hurt goalkeeper Adam Collin who was given excellent cover by the men ahead of him.

The only real alarms for him in the opening 45 minutes came from two of the six corners Harrogate forced.

From the first one Collin used every sinew and inch of his 6ft-plus frame to rise above the Harrogate heads and claw the ball behind.

The second could have been more dangerous because it evaded the keeper and fortunately Harrogate’s top scorer Jamie Smith headed over.

Workington had opportunities to add to their lead, the best falling to Cook after great work by Jonny Wright at the by-line. Cook took on the shot and fired just wide with Gareth Arnison unmarked and waiting for a pass at the far post.

In the second-half Workington continued to look more dangerous on the break and for all their possession Harrogate lacked penetration.

Collin had to produce one outstanding save to thwart Harrogate’s most incisive spell of football in the game. Good movement down the right and a first-rate cross from Matty Young saw Smith whip-in a header which was bound for the corner of the net until Collin took-off and palmed it away to eventual safety.

On the break, however, Workington created some good opportunities as both Arnison and Jonny Wright got away for one-on-one situations with Hedge.

Arnison took his chance a shade too wide and his shot went past the near post and Wright tried for the far corner but just dragged it outside the target.

Then from a free kick by Kyle May, Cook stole into space and with a free header should have done better than direct straight into the grateful arms of the home keeper.

The early injury to Langford meant Reds had to re-organise which gave a debut to veteran defender Dean Gordon who, although looking short of match fitness, did a solid enough job in the middle of the back four.

STAR MAN: TONY HOPPER - Awesome display from the skipper returning to the midfield after a three match absence. Work-rate, key interceptions, use of the ball were all excellent to drive the Reds on to victory.

Reds: Collin, Langford (Gordon 5), Rowntree, May, Andrews, McLuckie (Hardman 84), Arnison, Hopper, J. Wright, Cook (Robinson 80), A. Wright. Siub (not used) Edmondson.

Referee: Alf Greenwood, York

Crowd: 258

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