A best ever win at the Butchers Arms saw Reds reclaim top spot in NPL North West with a dominant display against an out-of sorts Bloods’ outfit.
Considering the underfoot conditions, Workington were allowed to play their possession based, passing football and controlled the game from start to finish with every individual winning his personal battle in a superb team performance.
And with so many man-of-the-match contenders, it was pleasing to record the contributions of unsung heroes Matty Clarke, Jordan Little and Cole Lonsdale along with recent arrivals, Millenic Alli and debutant Mwiya Malumo. A quintet of players added to the squad since the start of the season, all of whom made a case for keeping their shirt in the weeks ahead.
Going into such a game without Sam Smith, Charlie Bowman, Ash Kelly, Nathan Waterston and Conor Tinnion would have been a concern at one time but the biggest compliment one could pay to the fourteen players used, was that the aforementioned were hardly missed – with all due respect.
A satisfying performance for manager Danny Grainger to reflect on, “It was a very good, positive display – the way they started the game, the way they moved the ball in tough conditions and their attitude was different class,” he said, adding “they were, by far, the better team, with and without the ball, and, in a game that could have been a test for us, they were clinical throughout.”
Rain, hail, sleet and a strong cross wind were conditions that would test the character of any player and that box was ticked within minutes as Reds looked up for the challenge from the off.
Droylsden showed great resilience in the opening period of the game but two defensive blunders contributed to their own downfall.
David Symington and Cole Lonsdale had tested Elliott Wynne in the early stages but the ‘keeper was left helpless on two occasions before the break. Both proved costly errors.
Good work down the left from Liam Brockbank culminated in a cross that should have been dealt with, but the defender made a hash of his clearance enabling Symington to slot his eleventh goal of the season with comparative ease.
That thirty-fifth minute advantage was doubled just before the break when Droylsden again shot themselves in the foot. Domaine Rouse’s short free kick was intercepted by Scott Allison on the edge of the centre circle, presenting the prolific striker with a free run on goal. As Wynne advanced off his line, Allison’s sublime chip lifted the ball over him and into the net.
It was difficult to see a way back for the hosts after that.
It was one-way traffic after the interval with Symington having three shots saved by Wynne – the best a spectacular tip over from a well struck free-kick.
And from a fifty-seventh minute corner, the Cumbrians netted a third. It looked as though Jordan Little had scored initially but skipper, Brad Carroll, got the final touch to steal the former’s glory.
If Allison’s exquisite finish was the goal of the match, it was an eye-catching move that resulted in Workington’s fourth on the night after seventy one minutes. Brockbank and Alli exchanged passes down the left and the final ball found new boy Malumbo who marked his debut with a goal, albeit via a slight deflection.
The twenty year old Zambian has gained experience with Oldham Athletic and Wigan Athletic, not to mention a spell in Swedish football, but has linked up with Reds from Irlam.
After dealing with Droylsden’s early onslaught, the Reds defence coped with what little was thrown at them leaving goalkeeper, Jim Atkinson, with a trouble free evening.
There didn’t seem to be too much animosity in the game – I think both sets of players were doing their best just to keep warm – but the referee brandished his yellow card seven times!
Droylsden: Wynne, Clarke S (Wych, 13), Oliver, Rooney, Rouse, Bianga, Hulme, Lattie, O’Neill (Cumberbatch, 66), Wilkins, Boyles (Makela, 66). Substitutes – Smith, Wolland (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Clarke M, Brockbank, Wordsworth, Little, Casson, Symington, Lonsdale, Allison (Hebson, 66), Carroll (Malumo, 59), Hubbold (Alli, 55). Substitutes – Tinnion, Grainger (not used).
Referee: Adam Davis, Liverpool
Bookings: Rooney, Bianga, Wilkins, Cumberbatch (Droylsden), Symington, Lonsdale, Carroll (Workington)