Reds produced a valiant performance in Lancashire last night, losing 1-0 to League Two Morecambe on a wet and wild evening.
Danny Grainger’s side did well to keep the coasters at bay for the vast majority of the match, with the EFL outfit only breaking our barrier on one occasion during the evenly-contested game.
Substitute Cole Stockton’s 54th-minute strike saw the Shrimps claim a narrow victory, having been on the back foot before changing almost their entire XI at half-time.
Grainger’s men made the journey to the well-secured and welcoming Mazuma Stadium coming off the back of another narrow 1-0 loss at Gainsborough Trinity last Saturday – another higher tier outfit.
As the lashing North Lancs rain stopped just before 19:45, Derek Adams’ side almost slipped up early on, with Ruben Jerome and Conor Tinnion both having close attempts for us in the opening exchanges.
Morecambe then turned the screw for a short period midway through the first half, testing Reds’ centre-backs Dan Wordsworth and Jordan Little but to no avail.
The pair, who played the full 90 minutes along with midfielder Brad Hubbold, were near-imperious as Sam Smith also shone at left-back for the Reds-dominated first 45.
The hosts had to make a change after 21 minutes as goalkeeper Mark Halstead went off injured for Newcastle United loanee Jake Turner.
The visitors then regained the stronghold and had all of the opportunities towards the end of proceedings, which began to garner worthy praise from the few inside the Covid-secure stadium.
As the interval loomed, Reds pushed for an opener but went into the break with a fantastic 45 minutes under their belts.
Then came the Shrimps’ eight changes, as former Carlisle United and Heart of Midlothian striker Cole Stockton took just eight minutes to make an impact.
After good work from Carlos Mendes-Gomes, Jordan Slew did well on the left-hand edge of the penalty area to square a ball into Stockton, who finished well under pressure as the clocked ticked to 54.
The game then became more end-to-end after Morecambe broke the deadlock, as Louis Potts went close between some super Jim Atkinson saves, most notably a fingertip one from Slew.
In the latter stages, both defences began to lapse and a flurry of half-chances ensued, but no one could add to the solitary Stockton strike.
Regular fourth division referee Darren Handley’s full-time whistle blew to the sound of ‘job done’ from the home team and plenty of plaudits to the away.
It was a brave, determined display from our first-team and beneficial for everyone involved, something Grainger was ‘immensely proud of.’
Adams also complimented Reds, telling his club’s website: “Workington were tough opponents and I’m sure they will do well in their league this year.
“They passed the ball around well got into good areas and that was good for us as we had to work really hard for the 90 minutes.”
After Thursday and Saturday training sessions, we’ll welcome Cleator Moor Celtic and Lancaster City as we return to Borough Park next week.
Details of those spectator-limited matches are here.
Reds starting XI: Jim Atkinson (GK), Jay Kelly, Sam Smith, Dan Wordsworth, Jordan Little, Brad Carroll, Louis Potts, Brad Hubbold, Ruben Jerome, Charlie Bowman, Conor Tinnion
Substitutes: Matty Clarke, Liam Brockbank, Jordan Holt, Ceiran Casson, Scott Allison, Robbie Hebson, Dav Symington, Mikey Watson (GK)
Morecambe starting XI: Mark Halstead (GK), Harry Davis, Alex Kenyon, Luke Conlan, John O’Sullivan, Ben Pringle, Liam McAlinden, Adam Phillips, Ryan Cooney, Ibrahim Bakare, Freddie Price
Substitutes: Jake Turner (GK), Kelvin Mellor, Stephen Hendrie, Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Jordan Slew, Toumani Diagouraga, Cole Stockton, Aaron Wildig, Carlos Mendes-Gomes