Injury hit Reds struggle at Kirby Road
Let’s deal with the excuses first:
A fourth match in eight days, a long tiring journey, a firm bumpy pitch, a severely depleted squad, a poor performance from the officials and a collective loss of form.
All the above have some substance, as they did on numerous occasions during the seventeen match unbeaten run at the end of last year.
But there is more to it than that. Excuses are always there but only come to the fore in defeat.
For half an hour of this mediocre contest, Reds never looked like losing but, over the final sixty minutes, they never looked capable of winning.
And it is that lack of confidence within the group that has converted play-off aspirants into a squad who look as they don’t know each other. The togetherness that underpinned that decent run before Christmas is clearly lacking.
A change in fortune is needed and scoring the first goal might help.
This wasn’t the worst performance of the season by any stretch of the imagination but it was lacking in character – effort and commitment is a must at any level of the game and there was certainly plenty of that.
But the injured trio of Mellen, Joel and Tinnion probably showed a bit more bottle than some of their colleagues and none would have been involved had circumstances been different.
Once again an error of judgement proved costly with the match decided by a goalkeeping blunder in the thirty-seventh minute. Aaran Taylor elected to punch a clearance when a catch looked the best option and the ball fell to, of all people, Brady Hickey – probably the most skilful player on the pitch. He cleverly lobbed the ball back over a crowded penalty area and into the net.
Taylor held his hand up for the mistake but no one attempted to close down Hickey, who was allowed time and space to perform his bit of magic.
Sam Joel had gone close to giving Reds an early lead when a slick one-two got him beyond Barwell’s sherbet coloured shirts. His low shot was well saved by the evergreen Liam Castle and, from the subsequent corner, he confidently gathered Phil McLuckie’s firm header.
Both teams forced a few corners but clear-cut opportunities were scarce and Craig Reid’s well struck effort, dealt with by Taylor, was probably Barwell’s only other shot on target.
Reds briefly threatened a fight back in the second half but a Conor Tinnion shot was cleared off the line and then his tempting low cross found no takers.
Other than that, there wasn’t much to get excited about.
And without seriously threatening Taylor’s goal in the second half, Barwell had enough in their locker to see out the game, complete a first home win over the Cumbrians and register a league double on the back of a 2-0 win at Borough Park last month.
After five league defeats on the bounce, Reds have to re-focus and, most importantly, keep their heads when all about are losing theirs.
Barwell Castle, Percival, Nisevic, Stanley, Towers (Baldwin, 75), Julien, Story (Heath, 80), Whitmore, Reid, Hickey, Piggon. Substitutes – Turner, Bates, Warmington.
Workington Taylor, Symington, Rowntree, Douglas, Smith, Wilson, Joel, McLuckie, Allison, Waterston, Mellen (Tinnion, 60). Substitute – Andrews (not used).
Referee Ed Pidduck, Nottingham
Booking: Rowntree (Workington)