Workington Town’s play-off hopes were dealt a blow as they fell to a third consecutive defeat at North Wales Crusaders, who drew level with them in the table on 12 points in the League One table.

After Town had taken the lead within the opening 10 minutes, the response from Crusaders was positive thereafter and they were the better side for the remainder of the match.

Ultimately, it was the difference in completion rates that proved key.

While Town coughed up a lot of ball and were forced into touch in their own half on a number of occasions, Crusaders managed the game professionally and kept the game out of Workington’s reach.

Despite being within six points of North Wales at half-time, Town couldn’t get a foothold in second half and, whenever they asked some questions in attack, they were met by a resolute Crusaders defence.

The hosts went closest to opening the scoring as Steve Roper tried to put Simon Atherton through the line with a short ball, but Town covered well and managed to halt the attack.

Workington then took the lead when, after two Crusaders errors had given them back-to-back sets, Carl Forber dummied his way through the line to finish next to the sticks.

When North Wales found themselves in good field position, they were given a penalty, opted to kick for goal and Ben Stead reduced the deficit to four points.

It proved to be the right decision as Crusaders scored in the next set from the kick-off, with Kenny Hughes breaking the line and Stead supporting to finish off the move.

The home side continued to pile on the pressure and added another when Kenny Baker popped out a smart offload for Steve Roper to touch down.

At this stage, the momentum was with Crusaders and a third try followed soon after as Dante Morley-Samuels had space down the left flank and did well to dive over in the corner.

With North Wales searching for further points, they attempted to play expansively, but the ball went to ground and Workington broke upfield for Perry Singleton to cross.

In the early stages of the second half, Atherton broke the line and Dec Gregory carried the ball further forward, but Workington were penalised for holding down as he tried to get a quick play-the-ball.

Crusaders opted to kick for goal and Stead was successful with the boot, giving the hosts an eight-point advantage.

For the next 20 minutes or so, there was little action near either side’s goal line and North Wales defended their edges astutely whenever Workington pushed forward.

As the match entered the final quarter, the home side had an opening as, after Dave Eccleston had made good metres up the middle, Atherton went close to getting the ball down on the line, only for his attempted pass to go to ground.

But Crusaders did manage to build on their lead when space opened up down the left, Baker hit a great line and managed to pop a pass out to Morley-Samuels, who dotted the ball down in the corner.

With numbers down the right flank, Town tried to make a break, but they were met by a solid defence as Earl Hurst and Morley-Samuels combined on the ledge edge to force Scott Rooke into touch.

North Wales then put the result beyond any doubt as Baker picked up the ball down the left and twisted his way over out wide.

Town grabbed a consolation on the full-time hooter when Declan O’Donnell collected a tricky grubber kick to touch down underneath the sticks.

With London Skolars at home next up for Workington, it could be a crucial match as to whether they have a chance of making the play-offs come the end of the season.

Match Facts

Crusaders: Fairhurst, Eccleston, Reid, Hurst, Morley-Samuels, Roper, Stead, Brennan, Hughes, Walker, Atherton, Baker, Wild. Subs: Gregory, Houghton, Hazzard, Thompson.

Tries: Stead (17), Roper (25), Morley-Samuels (30, 63), Baker (70). Goals: Stead 5/7

Town: Mellor, Rooke, Lancaster, Singleton, Bolton, Doran, Forber, Moimoi, Penkywicz, Dawson, Scholey, Tickle, Hopkins. Subs: O’Donnell, Walsh, Curwen, Wilkes.

Tries: Forber (9), Singleton (35), O’Donnell (80). Goals: Forber 3/3

Referee: John McMullen

Penalties: 8-5

Crowd: 363

Star Man: Fuifui Moimoi