Saturday, 28 November 2015

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Mwasile shines as brilliant Workington continue to push for play-offs

Stalybridge Celtic 1 Workington Reds 4: There have been some exhilarating performances by Workington at Bower Fold over the years, and this was up there among them.

Joe Mwasile photo
Joe Mwasile

Three unanswered second half goals swept the Reds to victory to move them to within three points of the play-offs.

It was a perfectly-timed win, too, as Reds’ next game is on Saturday at home to leaders Chester when they can expect their biggest crowd of the season at Borough Park.

“They bring a lot of support and if the home fans can get behind us and provide their vocal backing it could be a day to remember,” said manager Darren Edmondson.

The win at Stalybridge came on the back of an excellent victory at Gloucester and also extended an unbeaten run away from home in the league to five games – three wins and two draws.

The most pleasing feature of this latest success was that Reds demonstrated the three ingredients for a team with play-off ambitions – a high work-rate, some pleasing football and finishing prowess.

At their best, Reds do have an intense work ethic. they have played better build-up football this season, and although the goals haven’t flowed regularly, it all came right on the day at Bower Fold.

Stalybridge, who have slipped down the table, are a young side encouraged to play neat and precise football, but they lack a cutting edge and they are also a bit short of a physical presence.

Consequently Workington were able to keep solid at the back, boss them in midfield and the way they took their chances was probably the most pleasing feature of a good afternoon’s work.

As at Gloucester there were several contenders for man of the match – always a good sign – with Kyle May, Gari Rowntree, Niall Cowperthwaite and Will Vaulks setting the lead, but the real match winner was Joe Mwasile with two goals and an assist.

Mwasile can still frustrate at times, but his exuberance, natural skill on the ball and growing willingness to track back, have turned him into a key player for Edmonson and his assistant Tony Elliott.

His second goal, two minutes into time added on, was a screamer, quite a contrast to his opener which gave Reds the lead on 39 minutes.

Mark Boyd put in a pass over the top for Gareth Arnison to chase in behind the Celtic defence. He was able to lift the ball over the advancing keeper Alex Cairns but it needed Mwasile to race through and make sure by driving home from close range.

But his late strike was different class, a finish of top quality. New boy Tom Greenhalgh won a tackle in midfield and fed fellow substitute Stefan Scott. The young striker kept his head and laid on a lovely pass inside the last defender for Mwasile to race on to.

The Morecambe loanee took a touch and then from 25 yards lashed a stunning shot on the run. The net was bulging before the diving Cairns hit the deck.

Reds had deserved the lead that Mwasile’s early finish gave them but they were rocked right on the interval. In the third minute of added time Celtic produced some of their best controlled play down the left and when the ball was worked to Jack Laird on the corner of the box he produced a fine, curling shot beyond Aaran Taylor into the far corner.

Taylor might have been a bit unlucky, and the goal not as good as it seemed, because the Workington defenders reported Laird’s shot had taken a deflection off Vaulks to curl it away from the keeper’s outstretched hand.

Workington regained the lead seven minutes after the restart with Gareth Arnison’s 11th league strike of the campaign.

Celtic had been sliced open down the left and when Mwasile was given the ball in the box he fed Arnison, who calmly beat Cairns with a controlled finish from 10 yards.

The third goal on 72 minutes was a delight. Great interplay along the right this time, with Cowperthwaite, Vaulks and Boyd involved, ended with a one-two releasing skipper Dave Hewson into the area. Cairns got something on his resultant shot but not enough to prevent it spinning behind him and over the line.

Stalybridge were increasingly wayward in their passing as Reds moved ahead but Taylor did have to make two smart stops to block efforts from substitute Greg Wilkinson and Laird.

Clearly Chester, who have dropped only five points in 19 games, are going to take some stopping on Saturday but if Reds can continue to find the same blend of hard work, good football and penetration in the opposition box, they can pose them a few problems.

Workington Reds: Taylor, Cowperthwaite, Rowntree, May, Andrews (Wordsworth 74), Hewson, Boyd (Greenhalgh 75), Vaulks, A. Wright (Scott 80), Arnison, Mwasile. Sub (not used) Dixon.

Referee: A. Tankard (Sheffield)

Crowd: 343

Star man: Joe Mwasile – Two goals (one a stunner), an assist and a lively performance which constantly caused problems for Stalybridge. Likely to be a key figure against League leaders Chester.



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