Workington’s indifferent start to 2020 continued when, for the second consecutive outing, they failed to collect maximum points.
Defensive lapses proved costly once again with Reds having to come from behind on two occasions.
In an incident packed afternoon, the drama started in the first minute when Dav Symington’s back problems flared up again forcing Reds to make their quickest ever substitution.
He had looked uncomfortable in the warm-up and his departure was a big blow with the balance of the side not quite right as a consequence.
The drama continued at the start of the second half when, six minutes after the interval, Trafford goalkeeper Matt Cooper was sent off for a handling offence a yard outside his area.
Assistant referee, Pete Leonard, consulted with the referee to confirm the decision and the visitors were forced to reshuffle. They did have a replacement ‘keeper on the bench but, in order for Jonathan McIlwaine to take over between the posts, striker Max Hazeldine had to be sacrificed.
And to compound their punishment, Conor Tinnion found the target with a superb free kick meaning McIlwaine’s first touch was to retrieve the ball from the net.
That controversial incident favoured Reds but the second one went against them just before the end of normal time.
Marauding fullback, Matty Clarke, made inroads into Trafford territory but his progress was unfairly halted with a borderline foul. Referee, Anthony Hall, pointed to the spot but assistant Leonard was again consulted for clarification. And, in his opinion, the foul was committed on the outer-side of the white line so, instead of a penalty, Workington were awarded a free-kick.
With Reds players, officials and frustrated supporters screaming for a penalty, it was a brilliant call from the assistant to arrive at the correct decision without the aid of VAR.
So it finished all square and that was about right as neither team deserved to win, but neither deserved to lose.
Reds looked a yard off the pace in the first half yet could have been comfortably in front before Trafford got into their stride.
Brad Hubbold rolled the first chance inches wide of the far post, Cooper twice thwarted Nathan Waterston and Brad Carroll, the first minute replacement for Symington, missed the target from close range.
Trafford served a warning with their first attack when Sam Grimshaw raced down the left and provided the perfect cross for Lewis Walters who, somehow, missed an open goal.
But the same pairing combined to give the Manchester outfit a forty first minute lead with an identical raid down Reds’ right. Grimshaw again supplied the assist but this time Walters took the ball in his stride to open the scoring with a good finish.
Walters could have doubled Trafford’s lead soon after the restart but squandered a decent opportunity and it was the hosts who equalised after fifty five minutes.
Tinnion’s stunning free-kick goal and the fact that the visitors were down to ten men, suggested that the league leaders would go on to claim the win and three valuable points.
But they were pegged back a second time after sixty four minutes. They gave a away a cheap free-kick and then failed to defend the set piece with Sam Baird arriving at the back post to drive the ball past Jim Atkinson.
Reds, probably through desperation but certainly with a bit of character, then dominated the later stages and restored parity with a well worked goal. Ceiran Casson forced his way into the area and his low cross towards the near post was met by Scott Allison, who found the target for a sixth game in a row.
Allison then sent a glancing header narrowly wide from a Clarke cross, Carroll had one effort saved and lifted another chance high over the bar and Casson, probably Reds best performer on a day when many were below par, squandered another great chance late in the day.
Workington: Atkinson, Clarke, Brockbank (Bowman, 66), Smith, Little, Casson, Symington (Carroll, 1), Hubbold, Allison, Waterston, Tinnion. Substitutes – Hebson, Grainger, Howarth (not used).
Trafford: Cooper, Kenny, Amado, Palmer, Egerton, Baird, Taylor, Davidson (Salmon, 75), Hazeldine (McIlwane, 52), Walters, Grimshaw (Mustapha, 83). Substitutes – Palma, Johnson (not used).
Referee: Anthony Ball, Wigan
Bookings: Casson, Grainger (Workington), Kenny, Mustapha (Trafford).
Red card: Cooper (Trafford)
Matchday photos by Ben Challis