Oxford 6 Workington Town 20

Workington Town took their chances where it mattered at Oxford yesterday, putting in a solid second-half performance after the scores were level at half-time.

The penalty count heavily favoured Town and, against poorer opposition, they would have scored a hatful of tries on the high quality 4G surface.

But Oxford are an improving club and they defended superbly throughout, especially during a lot of the second half as, assisted by poor discipline from the hosts, Town pounded the Oxford line.

The unusual sight of two dropped balls from kick-off immediately gave Workington a scrum on Oxford’s 10-metre line, giving the away side a chance to score. Ed Chamberlain was held up over the line before Stuart Howarth’s lob on the final tackle went over the dead-ball line.

Oxford took a shock lead on six minutes.

After clearing up a second Town attack, Oxford winger Josh Atkinson made the ground, charging 70 metres. From the next tackle, with Town still off-guard, Jake Joynt set up Curtis MacDonald in the corner. Harvey Burnett converted.

There was nearly a second. Callum Windley leaping onto Scott Fleming’s grubber but the ball was judged to have not been grounded properly.

A number of Town players prevented a further Oxford chance on 17 minutes after Casey Canterbury was held up over the line.

Being cheered on by their nine travelling fans (plus directors), Town were desperate to level the scores.

Jack Higginson made a good attempt at keeping the ball in play while looking for a try but his feet were over the dead-ball line when looking to set-up what looked like an impossible try.

Finally, just before half-time, Ed Chamberlain leaped onto a perfect Carl Forber grubber under the sticks. Forber converted to make it 6-6.

Town went into the lead just 90 seconds after the restart, Jack Higginson going over in the corner. Forber kicked well to bring the score up to 12-6.

Despite being awarded four successive penalties, Town were finding it hard to penetrate the Oxford defence, who stood strong, until the 21st minute of the second half, when Joe Hambley was on the end of a good passing move to score in the corner.

Forber again kicked superbly to make it 18-6.

Town didn’t ever look like losing but Oxford certainly kept the score closer than it could have been as they continued their outstanding defensive effort. Jack Higginson and Connor Fitzsimmons both being close to the line.

It was a great respect to their opponents that Forber chose to kick a penalty with five minutes to go.

Oxford’s Jack Pickles saw yellow in the final minute of the game, giving Town their 13th penalty and a final chance to score.

But again, they were kept out and while Town clinched their first win of the League One season, they’ll think about the tough game they were given during their 290-mile trip back.

Oxford: Riley, Atkinson, MacDonald, Burnett, Hoggins, Windley, Fleming, Joynt, Canterbury, Biscomb, Foster, Cooke, Pickles

Subs (all used): Moules, McRae, Brooker, Cox

Tries: MacDonald (6)

Goals: Burnett 1/1

Workington Town: Chamberlain, Hambley, Higginson, Mossop, Mewse, Forber, C Phillips, Coward, Dowsett, Curwen, B Phillips, Davis, Howarth

Subs (all used): Szostak, Singleton, Fitzsimmons, Rooke

Tries: Chamberlain (38), Higginson (42), Hambley (61)

Goals: Forber 4/4

Referee: Brandon Robinson

Half-time: 6-6

Attendance: 120

Penalty Count: 10-16

Star Man: Carl Forber