Workington’s 100% success record at the New Manor Ground was left in tatters after this emphatic loss, the heaviest in Danny Grainger’s time in the Borough Park hot seat.
They had won all four of their previous games at the stadium and even the one goal they conceded back in 2009 was recorded as an own-goal.
But in the most bizarre game of ‘gung-ho’ football I’ve witnessed for a long time, I was left to ponder a couple of things: Why were Workington so naïve and why, on earth, did this talented Ilkeston outfit feel the need to master the art of time wasting with their well-rehearsed delaying tactics?
The corner count was 10-7 in Town’s favour and the decent chances (those on target) probably numbered the same in an afternoon of wonderful entertainment or worryingly abject fare – depending on which team you supported.
The net result was that Ilkeston topped the NPL Premier Division on Saturday evening – just as Workington did a week earlier!
Much can happen over a week in football and that was never better illustrated than Reds’ fragile offering so soon after an impressive win of their own. It isn’t easy dressing-up a 6-1 defeat and Grainger was struggling to analyse what he had witnessed in his post-match interview.
The goal-spree started in the sixth minute when Jamie Walker was invited to head home via the game’s first corner yet, either side of the opener, David Symington squandered the first two of a catalogue of opportunities.
Nathan Tyson was unlucky not to double the home side’s lead when his effort from an acute angle hit the foot of a post before Jim Atkinson saved well to thwart Jordan Hallam.
We then saw a wonder goal from Ross Burrows whose shot from fully forty yards left Atkinson somewhat bamboozled as the ball dipped and swerved on its way into the net.
Atkinson was left to his own devices once again this time saving from Connor Dixon before Jack Tolley’s follow-up effort hit the woodwork.
Then, as Workington were urging the referee to end their first half misery, Aidy Roxburgh reduced the arrears with a fine individual goal. He went on a slalom-like run into the Ilkeston area and smashed home his first goal for the club in the forty-fifth minute.
Would that give yellow-shirted Reds the kick-up the backside they needed?
It certainly did…. for a few brief minutes after the restart. Symington had two shots saved by Matthew Yates and Keelan Leslie saw another effort cleared off the line as a little flurry of activity gave the visitors hope.
But once they conceded the third, after being caught on the counter-attack, the flood-gates opened. Hallam restored their two-goal advantage and was instrumental all afternoon for the hosts.
It became 4-1 soon after when Kieron Fenton’s goal-bound shot was deflected into the net off Declan Eratt-Thompson and the fifth for the hosts, ten minutes from time, summed up Workington’s calamitous afternoon. Greg McCaragher’s back-pass to Atkinson was well short and Tyson nipped in to accept the gift.
There was still time for Walker to score a sixth as Workington’s attempts to play out from the back failed again and the player who started the scoring ended it in stoppage time.
Grainger, and many of the players who emerged from the away dressing room, apologised to the Reds supporters for having to endure such a performance which resulted in their heaviest reverse for four years.
Ilkeston Town: Yates, Barrows, Wilder, Eratt-Thomas, Cox, Fenton, Tolley (Hanson, 73), Dixon, Tyson (Alexander-Tucker, 83), Hallam (Hill, 79), Walker. Substitutes – Christie, Woodward (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Roxburgh (McCaragher, 59), Leslie (Bell, 79), Wordsworth, Wallbank, Casson (Rigg, 62), Symington, Carroll, Allison, Moore K, Hubbold. Substitutes – Tait, Moore L (not used).
Referee: Sam Clayton, Rotherham
Bookings: Wilder, Eratt-Thompson, Tolley, Walker (Ilkeston Town), Wordsworth, Carroll (Workington)