Workington Reds have been frustrated in their pursuit of a first-half lead at Borough Park as Marske United look to be one of few sides to have taken anything from a game in West Cumbria this season.

Reds, who were attacking the river end in the first half, had the first sniff of a chance with Nathan Waterston almost stealing a march on a defender who slipped before tripping himself as he looked to surge into the box inside the first minute.

The hosts were enjoying all of the possession in the first minutes of the game at Borough Park but despite their probing they were being limited to playing around the edge of the Marske box.

Waterston was at the heart of the best early opening when he skipped over a challenge and drove up the right wing, cutting into the box and sending a low cross towards the penalty spot which the visitors cut out, albeit not entirely convincingly, before it could be stabbed past the goalkeeper.

The home side continued their patient passing as the heavens opened and light rain began to fall, and Brad Hubbold showed some fancy footwork to find space for a low driven shot which was comfortably gathered by the keeper but represented the first real effort on goal from either side in the 14th minute.

Referee Billy Wyatt, who was taking charge of a game featuring Workington for the first time, was on the receiving of some choice words from the home support after a number of dubious decisions went against their players.

Marske were doing enough to keep the league leaders at bay and they had to be alert again in the 20th minute when Andrew May slid in to prevent Scott Allison getting a clean shot away as the in-form Reds forward screwed his low shot wide.

While the home side were not finding the penetration they might have liked into the Marske box, they were happy to try their luck from outside the area, with Waterston next to line up a rising strike but it drifted well over the bar.

The away side were struggling to get out of their half, with striker Louis Johnson looking increasingly isolated on his own up front, and they were forced to concede a free-kick with Workington applying pressure after 29 minutes.

Dav Symington sent a high, looping ball into the box from the right wing which was cleared for a throw-in after a couple of header.

News trickled through that Ramsbottom United had taken a 1-0 lead which put them top of the league while Reds continued to press but Allison was foiled by the keeper as he looked to latch onto a chipped through ball.

Marske gave Reds a reminder that they had to stay sharp when good link-up play between Andrew Stephenson and Curtis Round freed the latter to smash a shot at the near post which Jim Atkinson turned away in the away side’s best chance so far.

With clear chances few and far between, Workington were searching for inspiration and they almost found some when Ceiran Casson floated a perfect pass from deep to the right flank for Brad Hubbold to cushion it down. The midfielder tried to trick his way past the defender but ran the ball out of play.

They had the best chance of the game yet when Allison sent a shot into the turf which bounced goalwards and onto the forehead of Waterston who tipped it wide with the goal at his mercy in the best and final opening of the first half.