A stoppage time equaliser from the hosts extended Workington’s sequence of draws to five matches as they came ever so close to completing a Premier Division league double.
But as Worksop suffered by conceding late in the recent Borough Park clash, it was Reds’ turn to feel the pain after victory was snapped from their grasp late in the day.
This was another brave performance from Danny Grainger’s side and a measure of how much they have matured in recent weeks. Yes, they rode their luck at times in the early stages but, overall, there was a sense of composure to this display considering the problems the manager had assembling his squad.
Thanks to the co-operation of Carlisle clubs, City and United, Reds were able to draft in Jordan Little and Sam Hetherington to boost numbers whilst Grainger, himself, re-registered as a player on Friday.
Thankfully, and with all due respect, the manager wasn’t needed as Little dovetailed into the back four and, along with Niall Brookwell, performed admirably in yet another defensive permutation.
There were several anxious moments when Jim Atkinson was called upon, a couple of occasions when Ashton struck the woodwork and some brave defending when bodies were thrown on the line to keep Steve Cunningham’s third-placed side at bay. But this was no smash and grab raid and Workington were worthy of the point as they reached the half-way mark of their season.
They got their noses in front after an incisive passing move with the ball worked out wide to Kitt Nelson. He had time and space to gather his thoughts before confidently passing the ball past former Workington ‘keeper, Luke Simpson, and into the far corner of the net after thirty-seven minutes.
The joy was short-lived with Ashton restoring parity within a couple of minutes and, had VAR been part of the non-league game, it would have been used to clarify this goal. Jake Charles converted from close range via Luke Burke’s assist, despite another red-shirted player positioned close to Atkinson, but the referee, who was excellent throughout, awarded the goal after consultation with his assistant.
Workington’s second goal in the eightieth minute was even better than the first although similar in the build-up. Dav Symington was found by Nelson’s pass and the in-form number 7 engineered a yard of space before despatching the ball into the opposite corner with a left foot drive which left Simpson helpless.
Workington appeared to be coping with the game management side of things until a fortunate corner in United’s favour two minutes into added time produced the fourth goal of the afternoon.
Veteran Sean Newton arrived unmarked at the far post to meet the cross and power home the late equalise.
Newton has enjoyed a wonderful career with numerous clubs over many years but, in contrast, Sam Hetherington, made his first steps in senior football with an impressive cameo as a Workington substitute.
Both would have been delighted with their contributions.
Ashton United: Simpson, Baird, Newton, Couto, Burke, Lowe, Hardy, Rose (Caton, 90), Gilchrist, Cusani (Dawson, 86), Charles. Substitutes – Milner, Culkin, Abbott (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Wallbank, McCaragher, Little, Brookwell, Hubbold, Symington, Nelson (Hetherington, 86), Allison, Carroll (Francis, 72), Tinnion. Substitutes – Moore L, Grainger, Eccles (not used).
Referee: Kavan Hurn, Accrington
Booking: Lowe (Ashton United)