Once again, Workington failed to deliver on the big occasion but they have no one to blame other than themselves.
For the opening thirty five minutes of their most important game of the season, they were ‘still in the dressing room’, enabling Marine to do what they wanted in a disastrous opening spell to the game.
There seemed a lack of urgency, cohesion, commitment and desire – qualities which Marine had in abundance.
And after conceding two goals they suddenly woke from their slumbers and decided to give the Crosby outfit a game, restoring a modicum of pride with a spirited second half performance.
But in falling to only their second defeat on the road this season, Reds’ title chances now depend on the unlikely scenario of leaders Rylands losing a game, whilst they have to overcome the mental aspect and try and get back to winning ways.
Indeed, a Warrington win on Monday and a Workington defeat could wrap things up immediately but the hope is the title race will be decided on Saturday. But even the most optimistic Reds supporter is preparing for the play-offs although the prospect of an extra game, maybe two, will be greeted with very little enthusiasm by players and supporters alike.
By the law of averages, the hosts were due a win and two goals inside thirty four minutes paved the way to reviving their promotion bid at just the right time.
The opener came after twenty eight minutes, with their man-of-the-match Ben Hughes heading home from close range after showing great determination to meet Jack Dunn’s teasing cross from the left.
And they doubled their advantage six minutes later via Bayleigh Passant’s seventy yard free kick. Lewis Reilly controlled the ball with his first touch, rolled Sam Smith and drove past Jim Atkinson for a deserved second, again from six yards.
And that’s when the dark arts of gamesmanship kicked in with the referee, an assistant, several players and members of both benches embroiled in discussion about alleged remarks exchanged on the pitch during a lengthy delay.
But in the seven additional minutes tagged on to the first half, Reds reduced the arrears. Nic Evangelinos (inset) collected the ball on the edge of the area, turned sharply and arrowed the ball into the bottom corner of Passant’s net.
Both teams were out early for the restart and it was green shirted Reds who were first into their stride.
Dav Symington met the ball sweetly from just outside the box but the ball just veered away from the top corner of the net and shaved the post on its way out of play.
Reuben Jerome came even closer as Reds maintained their bright start to the second half with Passant just touching his header onto the bar before the ball was scrambled clear.
Evangelinos then squandered the best chance of all when his quick foot work had Marine defenders in a panic but, after putting Passant on his back-side, he lifted the ball over the bar with the vacant net at his mercy.
Workington have been guilty of a bit of gamesmanship this season but Marine took that to a new level in the second half with their constant disruption of play and feigning injury compounding Reds’ frustration.
All teams do it of course so if you live by the sword, you have to die by the sword.
Scott Allison didn’t get much protection or support from the referee but it was great to see him back to his best along with skipper Conor Tinnion, both were inspirational in a losing cause.
But there is very little respite for non-league footballers and they have to pick themselves up and go again on Monday.
Whatever happens, it has been a great season but this squad deserves some tangible reward…as do the long suffering supporters!
Marine: Passant, Roberts, Barrigan, Lynch, Winnard, Devine, Hughes, Doyle (Clark, 69), Reilly (Watkinson, 72), Wignall (Dunn, 12), Kengni. Substitutes – Solomon-Davies, Adams (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Symington, Clarke, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson (Fenwick, 61), Allison, Carroll (Hubbold, 89), Jerome (Rigg, 68), Tinnion, Evangelinos. Substitutes – Harrison, Leslie (not used).
Referee: Matthew McQuillan, Wigan
Bookings: Doyle, Kengni, Watkinson (Marine), Wordsworth, Smith, Willcock (Workington).
Corner count: 5-3