Workington Reds find themselves 1-0 up at the break against Widnes despite having not been at their best in the first half.

Widnes kicked off and had the first chance after three minutes when they fired just past the post after a quick break but the flag was up for offside.

Nathan Waterston, who started the game after his impressive hat-trick against Kendal Town in midweek, forced some fancy footwork out of Widnes goalkeeper Owen Wheeler when he closed him down in the box early on.

Reds were forced to hack the ball out for a throw-in when a free kick from the visitors bobbled dangerously around the penalty spot but it came to nothing in a scrappy start to the game.

A fierce David Symington free kick was blocked by the wall and Ceiran Casson’s attempt from the rebound sailed high over the bar.

Another free kick in the 17th minute was floated to the far post by Brad Hubbold but Sam Smith couldn’t quite a toe on it as it ran out for a goal kick.

The visitors had heart in mouths for the 389 supporters at Borough Park after 20 minutes when a powerful Michael Grogan strike rattled the bar, then Lewis Buckley headed over the bar seconds later.

Widnes were more than matching their hosts but they almost fell behind when a terrific solo run from Hubbold saw him tee up Scott Allison for a shot on the break and Reds’ manager Danny Grainger felt strongly that his effort was blocked by a hand.

The game was fast and flowing from end to end after 25 minutes and Dan Wordsworth had to be alert to make a stunning last-ditch block to keep the score at 0-0 before Symington drove a shot straight at Wheeler.

Neither side looked in control of the game but Hubbold was seeing plenty of the ball and looked as likely as anyone to provide the creative spark Reds were looking for.

It was the other Brad in midfield who opened the scoring though when he capitalised on confusion at the back to nick in ahead of Wheeler, round him and virtually walk the ball in after 30 minutes.

Hubbold did almost get on the scoresheet when he drew a fine low save out of Wheeler two minutes later and Allison’s attempted backheel on the rebound drifted wide of the post.

Reds continued to ride their luck at the back but were defending well to block shots when their opponents did open them up.

It was a physical battle in midfield and Liam Brockbank was shown a yellow card just before half time for what Widnes claimed was an elbow but referee Ian Gittins decided was not so serious.

Captain Sam Sheen had the latest Widnes effort at goal when his volley went high and wide before Hubbold scuffed a weak shot into the keeper’s arms from the edge of the area in what was the last notable action before the half-time whistle.