This was the first of what could be several harsh reminders that Workington are now playing at a far more competitive level than they have for a few years. And, any dip in performance levels will be punished.
Manager Danny Grainger admitted afterwards that Reds were probably about 15% below their best and, because of the deficiencies, Workington felt a bit like Ashton United did at Borough Park a few days earlier.
They contributed to an entertaining game and although chances were created, they weren’t taken. In contrast, Morpeth were that bit sharper in the final third and looked more clinical in front of goal.
Kick-off was delayed by five minutes due to the Workington coach being held-up in traffic yet, despite the far from ideal preparation, the visitors made a decent start.
Their passing and movement was good but some promising approach play lacked an end product.
Conor Tinnion had the first effort at goal but his free-kick from twenty yards came to rest in the side netting with Dan Lowson untroubled. At the other end, Sam Hodgson was well wide of the target with Morpeth’s first attempt.
Kofi Moore had two decent chances but neither produced that hoped for opening goal. Jim Atkinson picked out Aidy Roxburgh with a pin-point accurate pass, the latter’s square ball found Moore but his attempt was well struck but cleared the bar….and the perimeter fence.
His second effort hit the target but lacked the power to trouble Lowson who saved easily.
And it was slightly against the run of play when Andrew Johnson opened the scoring, albeit with the aid of a deflection, after twenty-four minutes. From that point, Morpeth took control in this first ever Northern Premier League meeting between the teams.
They doubled their lead in the third minute of first half stoppage time with Johnson cashing in on a defensive error, as the heavens opened.
Grainger tweaked the line-up during the interval in an attempt to find a way back into the game, to no avail unfortunately.
Lowson made a crucial save, though, soon after the restart when he advanced quickly off his line to block a Symington effort.
Symington did have the better of the veteran goalkeeper in Workington’s next sortie forward but his well struck shot from twenty yards rattled the crossbar.
Town always looked a threat going forward but Workington’s approach was becoming more laboured as they found it hard to break through the home defence.
Saturday’s hero, Scott Allison, came close to adding to his tally with a fine shot which rebounded off Lowson’s crossbar and the ‘keeper also tipped over a Lewis Reilly header as Reds sought a consolation goal.
By then, they were three goals in arrears and distinctly second best.
Reds had lost possession cheaply in midfield and Hodgson took full advantage to drive the ball over Atkinson and into the net for Morpeth’s third with twenty minutes remaining.
To compound a frustrating evening, Steven Rigg picked up a second yellow card and was sent off so will miss the next home game.
Before then, Reds will head for Ilkeston and another ninety minutes on a 4G surface.
Morpeth Town: Lowson, Robson, Miller, Jenkins (Donaldson, 72), Henderson, Reid, Steels (Wombwell, 84), Noble, Hodgson, Barlow, Johnson (Turner, 90). Substitutes – French, Dowling (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Roxburgh, Bell (Leslie, 46), Rigg, Wallbank, Carroll (Hubbold, 46), Symington, McCaragher, Allison, Moore K (Reilly, 67), Tinnion. Substitutes – Casson, Hammell (not used).
Referee: Kieran Downey, Sunderland
Bookings: Miller, Henderson, Hodgson (Morpeth Town), Carroll, Symington, McCaragher (Workington)
Red card: Rigg (Workington, two yellow cards)