This was a game the league leaders were expected to win and they did with a bit to spare in the end but only after distinguishing a spirited performance from a United team at the opposite end of the table.
Reds’ superb fitness levels, a couple of fine individual performances and a collective team effort outweighed United’s Yorkshire grit and never-say-die attitude, culminating in their ninth league win.
And with several clubs in the chasing pack dropping points it proved a good afternoon for Danny Grainger’s side in what, most definitely, is a competitive division.
I’m sure any team talk will include the advice ‘scoring the opening goal’ is so important and ‘not conceding’ equally so. Well, Reds went through both emotions inside eight minutes, going ahead through Sam Smith after their first meaningful attack but pegged back by Aaron Haswell’s well-taken equaliser soon after.
And the game had that ‘ebb and flow’ feel about it with both teams threatening to score every time they ventured forward.
Robbie Hebson’s first-half contribution was significant to say the least. He had a hand, or rather a foot, in all three of Reds goals without getting on the score-sheet himself.
It was his shot which led to Smith’s opener after United’s Brett Souter could only parry the ball and Reds reacted quicker to the loose ball.
After Haswell restored parity it was Hebson’s assist which led to the third goal of the afternoon. His cross from the left found Scott Allison at the far post and another close-range finish saw Workington restore the advantage.
Hebson would be the first to admit that his third assist was actually a shot but, regardless, it resulted in Nathan Waterston heading home at the far post, giving Reds a two-goal cushion.
And the two-goal advantage at the break was down to a double Jim Atkinson save – the first somewhat fortunate, the second a brilliant reflex action.
The first opportunity after the interval fell to Waterston after a route one approach. Atkinson’s measured down-field punt sent Reds’ top scorer in the clear and a ‘one-on-one’ with Souter. But the latter saved with his feet and the chance was gone.
It kept Ossett in the game and after scoring their second after fifty-five minutes they were certainly in contention. Atkinson couldn’t hang-on to Elliott Harrison’s low shot and the evergreen Tom Greaves pounced to convert the rebound.
The visitors survived an anxious few minutes but defended well to keep Ossett at bay then found reserves of strength to dominate the last few minutes.
Brad Carroll had replaced first-half hero Hebson, to make his return after a nine weeks absence, capping his comeback with the goal of the afternoon. Waterston did the spade-work down the left before rolling the ball inside for Carroll. He cleverly let the ball roll across his body then thumped home a beauty from the edge of the box in the eighty-seventh minute.
A bit of breathing space at the end and mission accomplished.
Ossett United: Souter, Maltby, Hardaker, Gregory, Cogill, McQuade, Guest, Harrison (Monkhouse, 72), Greaves, Basic, Haswell (Porritt, 72). Substitute – Katsamagkas (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Clarke, Brockbank, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson, Hebson (Carroll, 56), Hubbold (Bowman, 86), Allison, Waterston (Ivison, 90), Tinnion. Substitutes – Little, Rowntree (not used).
Referee: Garry Fletcher-Tindall, Bridlington
Bookings: McQuade (Ossett United), Wordsworth (Workington)