A confidently despatched penalty from Scott Allison, the twenty-second spot-kick of his Reds career, and a spectacular goal-line block from Sam Smith were the significant contributions in a hard-fought stalemate at the Eco Giants Stadium.
And the draw was probably the right outcome with both teams just lacking the composure, or the finesse, to convert one point into three.
Clitheroe and Reds squandered several decent openings in a game which became frenetic at times but compulsive viewing throughout. It meant both teams were non-movers in the NPL West Division table with Danny Grainger’s side hanging on to third spot, nine points better off than sixth placed Clitheroe.
Grainger’s honest post-match assessment suggested the game could have gone either way so, from that perspective, he was content with the point, Reds’ fourth over the two Festive fixtures.
A bright start was rewarded with a twelfth minute penalty after Billy Priestley’s flailing elbow caught Lewis Reilly on the side of the head. It may not have been intentional but the blow left Reilly grounded and the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot.
Allison blasted the penalty past Chris Thompson for Reds’ first goal of 2023.
Workington should have doubled their lead almost immediately but, after gliding past defender, Jack Hatton, Reuben Jerome made a hash of his shot letting the hosts of the hook.
It was a costly miss and, within two minutes of going behind, the hosts restored parity. Abimbola Obasoto got the ball into the danger area and Sefton Gonzales deflected the ball goal-wards and, according to the assistant referee, over the line.
Despite Workington claims that the ball hadn’t crossed the line, it made a pleasant change to see a decision made by the naked eye instead of VAR or a micro-chip in the referee’s watch!
Having awarded one penalty, the referee was more lenient when two more appeals tested his resolve. Clitheroe thought they should have had one when Gonzales was checked inside the area and Workington thought likewise when Conor Tinnion was grappled to the ground at the other end.
Danny Wilkins then tested Jim Atkinson with a well struck shot but it was all square at the break.
Clitheroe enjoyed a good spell of possession when the second half got underway but good approach work wasn’t matched by their finishing prowess. Workington were almost identical at the other end – often creating decent openings only to spoil with a poor final ball or inept finishing.
Max Cane had the best opportunity to clinch victory but, from point-blank range, he saw his thumping shot saved on the line by a brave Smith block. It prevented what looked a certain goal, a winner potentially, so late in the game.
Both sets of supporters contributed to a 900 plus crowd and a vibrant atmosphere yet it was probably the one hundred-strong Workington contingent who left for home the happier.
Reds lost ground on the leading pair, Macclesfield and Leek, but, extending the unbeaten run to seven matches keeps alive their promotion aspirations as they reached the forty-point mark in good shape.
Clitheroe: Thompson, Hatton (Burrows, 54), Holden, Baker, Lancaster, Priestley, Obasoto, Pugh, Gonzales, Wilkins (Leigh, 68), Edwards (Cane, 78). Substitutes – Webb-Foster, Dent (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Moran (Clarke, 46), Leslie, Wordsworth, Smith, Hubbold, Carroll (Rigg, 75), Allison (Palmer, 70), Reilly, Jerome, Tinnion. Substitutes – Birch, McCaragher (not used).
Referee: Jack Hall
Bookings: Thompson, Hatton, Pugh (Clitheroe), Moran, Allison, Tinnion (Workington).