Another bag of mixed results in the congested top six of BetVictor North West with Reds, closest challengers, Ramsbottom United, and Pontefract Collieries all collecting maximum points whilst rivals Marine, Tadcaster Albion and Marske United were left to tread water.
That left Danny Grainger’s side one point clear of in-form Ramsbottom United ahead of next Saturday’s crucial first v. second clash at the Riverside Stadium.
Reds had to overcome a good Marske outfit to retain their season-long leadership and two well-taken second-half goals secured three priceless points.
It was an even contest throughout and whilst Reds created more chances at goal, Marske won the corner count by a country mile with the hosts reliant on excellent contributions from Jim Atkinson, Dan Wordsworth and Sam Smith.
Their determination to keep a clean sheet laid the foundation for the offensive players to score the goals and they duly arrived after 48 and 88 minutes.
Grainger felt Reds were a little below par in the first half and, whatever was said during the interval, seemed to have the desired effect. Nathan Waterston’s speed of thought and sublime finish resulted in the deadlock being broken as the home side started the second half in explosive fashion.
A diagonal ball towards the right flank was partially cleared by Liam O’Sullivan but Waterston’s quick reaction saw him collect the loose ball, cut inside and curl a delightful shot beyond Marske ‘keeper, Jack Norton, and into the net via an upright.
But it wasn’t until late in the game that Reds’ supporters were able to relax, after Scott Allison secured the win with a poacher’s goal two minutes before the end of normal time.
Marske spent plenty of time in Workington’s half of the field but for all their possession they were unable to create many clear-cut opportunities.
Workington might have been in front during the first half but their heroes on the day, Waterston and Allison, squandered probably easier chances than the ones they converted.
And it was Marske’s top scorer, Andrew Stephenson, who came closest to grabbing the first goal – his crisp low shot was pushed away by Atkinson’s fine save.
Smith, Allison, Waterston and Dav Symington all had chances to add to the opening goal at the Town End of the ground whilst Curtis Round, whose shot drifted narrowly wide, and O’Sullivan’s header, comfortably saved by Atkinson, were the best attempts for an equaliser.
Liam Brockbank had the satisfaction of scoring his first league goal at Marske earlier in the season and he looked as though he was going to emulate that fine strike as Reds finally put the game to bed.
He skipped past two United defenders and sent a thumping shot towards goal which Norton could only parry. The loose ball fell conveniently to Allison and he got rid of his frustrations by thumping home the second goal – the 111th of his career and Reds 50th of the season.
Workington: Atkinson, Hebson (Clarke, 73), Brockbank, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson, Symington (Tinnion, 84), Carroll (Lonsdale, 66), Allison, Hubbold, Waterston. Substitutes – Little, Bowman (not used).
Marske United: Norton, May, O’Sullivan, Garbutt (Plant, 82), Burgess, Wheatley, Martin, Gott, Johnson, Stephenson (Blackford, 46), Round. Substitutes – Butterworth, Clark, Wilkinson (not used).
Referee: Ben Wyatt, Manchester
Matchday photos by Ben Challis.