A performance full of character, guts and sheer determination got injury-hit Reds through this one, their third win by the-odd-goal-in-three in quick succession.
Add to that a couple of 50/50 decisions which fell in their favour and an excellent goalkeeping performance from Jim Atkinson, and it is easy to understand why the Manchester boys left for home a tad frustrated.
They dominated the first half but couldn’t find a way past Atkinson who pushed one stunning shot onto his right-hand post, thwarted Dontai Gabidon, saved from Jake Charles on two occasions, denied Luke Griffiths and watched, non-plussed, as a Griffiths free-kick whistled past his upright.
When Atkinson did ‘fluff his lines’, Brad Hubbold got him out of jail by taking a booking for conceding a free kick which was wasted.
FC also won the corner count so it was almost one-way traffic towards the Derwent End goal Workington were bravely defending.
What did Reds do in response? Not a lot really apart from defend, defend and defend again.
In an isolated sortie towards the Manchester goal, Greg McCaragher hit a fine shot but the ball narrowly cleared Pat Boyes’ bar.
It was a different story after the break and the hosts, with restored belief, grew into the contest.
Fin Wallbank, Conor Tinnion and Steven Rigg combined in a promising attack with Boyes forced into action for the first time.
Boyes was called upon soon after saving from Tinnion after Rigg headed down the ball into the skipper’s path.
Workington supporters heaved a collective sigh of relief when Sam Smith and United’s Max Cane went to ground in the area but justified appeals for a penalty were ignored.
To rub salt into gaping wounds, Smith then popped up at the other end and opened the scoring following a sixty-seventh minute corner. United were unable to clear the ball and when it fell to Smith, he promptly returned it goalwards and into the net.
Atkinson saved again to deny Gabidon and his stop became even more important when Reds doubled their lead after seventy-seven minutes.
Keelan Leslie broke through United lines down the inside left channel but his effort was saved by Boyes. Teenage recruit, Kitt Nelson, who has joined the club on loan from Preston North End, reacted quickly, kept his composure and slotted home the rebound to mark his twenty-minute cameo with a crucial goal.
For the first time, Reds were in the ascendancy and another Leslie shot was kept out by Boyes and, when the young ‘keeper strayed off his line momentarily, Atkinson tried to chip him from sixty yards with an audacious shot at goal.
Then, for the third game in a row, Workington conceded in stoppage time but FC hardly celebrated what was a sloppy consolation goal. A cross came in from the right which Atkinson and Smith appeared to misjudge and the ball deflected off the latter into the net for an unfortunate own-goal.
It didn’t detract from the duo’s overall contribution – both were magnificent – with Atkinson taking one more delivery, the sponsors bottle of bubbly after being named man-of-the-match!
Workington: Atkinson, Wallbank, Leslie, Wordsworth, Smith, Hubbold (Casson, 46), Moore K, McCaragher (Bell, 76), Rigg, Allison (Nelson, 70), Tinnion. Substitutes – Moore L, Tait (not used).
FC United of Manchester: Boyes, Zuk, Hall, Griffiths, Oliver, Jones, Donohue (Fitzmartin, 56), Munro, Charles (Morris, 64), Cane, Gabidon (Bollado, 85). Substitutes – Ennis, McLoughlin (not used).
Referee: Andrew Daniels, Preston
Bookings: Hubbold, Wordsworth (Workington), Munro (FC United of Manchester)