Reds left wondering what could have been
By Paul Armstrong
A pulsating game in atrocious conditions was a great advertisement for Evo-Stik Premier Division football but left Reds wondering why they came away pointless, having contributed so much.
Both teams have improved noticeably since September’s clash at Borough Park and there wasn’t much between them on a filthy afternoon at Causeway Lane.
But the Gladiators edged the battle in terms of goals and continued their push towards the play-offs whilst Reds remain entrenched in a relegation battle and still without an away win to date.
The defeat was a blow after such a committed performance and, thankfully, Reds’ struggling rivals didn’t take advantage with none of the bottom eight managing to win.
The Cumbrians began well and Ross Durrant saved the first shot of the afternoon dealing with a Jordan Holt effort. The ‘keeper then thwarted Niall Cowperthwaite with an important block and the latter’s follow-up effort was charged down by Dayne Wiley.
Town got their noses in front with a delightful counter attack down the left after twenty seven minutes. A four man move and some swift one-touch passing culminated in Luke Hinsley sweeping home Lee Beevers’ low cross from eight yards.
Reds responded well and were back on terms seven minutes later. Conor Tinnion floated a free kick towards the far post and first Sam Smith and then Kyle May kept the ball alive with Cowperthwaite reacting to the loose ball and driving it past Durrant from the corner of the six yard box.
Referee Kenwyn Hughes delayed kick-off for the second half as he contemplated abandoning the game but neither side was keen on that idea and play restarted.
The referee then awarded the hosts a soft penalty after Kyle May obstructed Craig King’s run into the box. May and Smith were booked for contesting the decision and Gari Rowntree joined themselves in the referee’s note book for continuing the process afterwards.
In between, Marcus Marshall took the spot kick but sent the ball into the night sky and towards the adjacent cricket pitch.
When play switched to the town end of the ground, Durrant again kept Reds at bay keeping out three decent efforts from Kieran Maguire, Scott Allison and Smith.
A Tinnion foul in front of the Matlock technical area, made worse by the amount of mud and water in that area, sparked a fracas. Tinnion, manhandled and jostled by all and sundry in the aftermath, was booked for the original incident, Cowperthwaite and Craig King were yellow carded for their role in the afters and the video editor sensibly deleted the incident from the highlight package to avoid further debate.
The winning goal came after seventy nine minutes and it was debutant, Jonathan Wafula, who drove home the decider through a crowded goal mouth after Reds failed to clear a corner.
Walker and Brad Hubbold had late shots saved by the excellent Durrant as Reds battled to the end in vain.
Despite the number of chances created and winning the corner count 11-7, Reds left empty handed as Town greeted the final whistle with celebration and relief in equal measures.
Matlock Town Durrant, Hare, Beevers, Hollingsworth, Wiley, Yates (Beatson, 90), Wafula, Taylor, Hinsley (Whitehead, 90), Marshall (Westcarr, 71), King. Substitutes – Hall, Pierrepont (not used).
Workington Taylor, Douglas, Rowntree, May, Smith, Cowperthwaite, Holt (Joel, 81) Maguire (Hubbold 80), Walker, Allison, Tinnion. Substitutes - Mellen, Paterson and Casson (not used).
Referee Kenwyn Hughes, Nottingham
Bookings: Hollingsworth, King (Matlock Town), May, Smith, Rowntree, Tinnion, Cowperthwaite (Workington)