Borough Park proved to be a fortress once more for Workington Reds as they saw off promotion rivals Marske United 2-0.

Goals from Scott Allison and Nathan Waterston put the title hopefuls to the sword as 551 Reds fans were treated to another free-flowing game and more scintillating football from Danny Grainger’s side.

Workington, who were attacking the river end in the first half, had the first sniff of a chance with 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 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.

Workington had struggled to fashion clear-cut chances in the first half but it took them just two minutes of the second period to break the deadlock. A long, raking pass from Dan Wordsworth was cut out by Liam O’Sullivan but his cushioned header was scooped up by Waterston who took a touch to kill the bouncing ball before curling a stunning shot past Jack Norton in the Marske goal.

Sam Smith almost doubled their advantage when a corner came across and fell at the centre-back’s feet but his shot cleared the bar by inches, while news broke of a goal at Brighouse as fellow promotion challengers Ramsbottom were pegged back to 1-1, then fell behind 2-1.

Reds’ goal seemed to spark some life into the visitors, who began to get the ball forward with more urgency and threaten from set pieces and throw-ins.

Allison has been in terrific form with a goal in each of Reds’ last seven games but he was grateful to see the linesman’s flag go up for offside when he sent the ball high over the ball from a golden opportunity after lovely build-up through Hubbold.

Danny Grainger introduced Cole Lonsdale for Brad Carroll after 65 minutes to give the tricky wide player his home debut.

Marske had another set piece opportunity after Dan Wordsworth cut a cross out and put it behind for a corner, with his centre-back partner Sam Smith heading the resulting delivery away.

Another corner followed shortly after, again met by the head of Smith, and when the ball came back in Atkinson gathered a goalbound header.

Matty Clarke replaced Robbie Hebson after 73 minutes with Grainger making a straight swap at right-back.

A quieter period ended with Allison sliding in at the back post but agonisingly short of touching a cross past Norton after 76 minutes, with Marske still in the game but Workington looking the more likely side to score next.

Two minutes later a flowing move which started with Clarke leading a break from right back ended with Waterston firing an effort on goal which a defender took the sting out of, before Symington tried his luck cutting in from the left but only found the sidenetting.

Conor Tinnion, who had missed out on a place in the starting lineup due to a groin concern, was introduced for Symington with six minutes to play of normal time as Reds looked for his leadership to help them see the game out.

It was now or never for Marske as they piled forward looking to apply pressure but it was Workington who scored next to give themselves some breathing room, with Allison capitalising on the rebound after a Tinnion shot was parried to make it 2-0 with two minutes to play.

Reds had four minutes to see out but Allison scoring in his eighth successive game had made the dying moments a little easier.

He should have had another in the four minutes of added time as Hubbold robbed a defender, fed Waterston down the right wing and his inch-perfect cross found Allison, only for the usually reliable hitman to miss the target.

Ramsbottom had pulled it back to win 3-2 at Brighouse but it was Reds who remained at the top of the table ahead of the mammoth clash between the two sides next weekend.