Five minute spell sinks the Reds
By Paul Armstrong
Another game played in atrocious weather so full credit to the players of Hyde United and Workington for attempting to entertain in such testing conditions.
But a familiar back-cloth to a first team game at Borough Park, with a group of players at a low ebb trying to arrest a run of six defeats in seven league matches. The harder they try, the worse it appears to get.
This relegation campaign is so different to the last term of National North football in 2013-14. Back then, we were asking an inexperienced squad, bulked up with loan players, to do a man’s job at a higher level than we are now.
But the present group is packed with bona fide Workington players, a squad with the best part of 2,000 Reds’ appearances to their credit.
The majority of them care about our plight and, whilst we all accept they are some way short of a promotion winning squad the group is tantalising close to an average middle of the table side.
Recent results on the road hint at an ability to climb out of trouble but a very poor home record suggests otherwise.
And for the long-suffering supporters it is a form of Chinese torture.
It should have been different on this occasion because Workington experienced the luxury of scoring first. And a good goal it was too.
Niall Cowperthwaite curled a free-kick into a crowded penalty area and there was Josh Calvert, timing his run, to power a diving header beyond Peter Crook for a thirty-third minute opener.
It was a good response to Hyde’s bright start, Paddy Lane, Nicky Platt and Tom Pratt had all gone close to scoring for the visitors.
But Reds mental fragility, a condition apparent throughout this troublesome season, proved costly in the final five minutes of the first half.
The impressive Lane was credited with the fortieth minute equaliser but, when Aaran Taylor appeared to be pinned by two yellow-shirted hulks, it seemed as though the ‘keeper punched the ball into his own net.
And worse was to follow in stoppage time of the first period. Pratt’s speed took him goal-side of Reds’ skipper Gari Rowntree leaving an exposed Taylor to trip the attacker for a definite penalty and a yellow card for his actions.
Platt confidently converted the spot kick, no mean achievement considering the tacky underfoot conditions.
Reds had the elements, a strong wind and horizontal rain, at their backs in the second half but they had lost the impetus evident in the first half.
Brad Carroll toiled away in vain and substitutes Dav Symington and Conor Tinnion, playing through the pain barrier, made valuable contributions. But Hyde’s rearguard remained solid throughout and efforts from Jordan Holt, Dean Brotherston and Cowperthwaite didn’t cause too much concern.
And even a last minute thunderbolt from Calvert was cleared off the line by a brave Hyde defender who knew little about his crucial block.
Lee Andrews fronted up as usual after the game and took some consolation from the results of some of Reds’ relegation-threatened rivals; “At least we haven’t lost ground on some of the teams around us but, with just eleven games to go, time is running out.”
Workington Taylor, Douglas, Rowntree, Calvert, Smith, Carroll, Holt (Symington,62), Cowperthwaite (Harker, 78), Walker, Thompson, Brotherston (Tinnion, 70). Substitutes – Carmichael, Casson (not used).
Hyde United Crook, Dominic Smalley, McConville (Haydock, 51), Daly, McCombe, Fagbola, Pratt, Morgan (O’Connor, 79), Chilaka, Platt (Deane Smalley, 46), Lane. Substitutes – Olarewaju, Longato (not used).
Referee Richard Holmes, Preston
Bookings: Taylor, Rowntree (Workington), McCombe (Hyde United)