Reds rounded off a testing two months of pre-season with a deserved victory on the east coast and are now fully focused on the league opener v. Mossley on Saturday.
Manager Danny Grainger expressed his delight on a decent performance after a few hiccups throughout the summer.
“It hasn’t been easy with injuries, Covid and holidays, and even having to cancel a scheduled friendly at one point, but we are just about ready for the season proper now,” he said.
“Today’s excellent performance has given Ruddy (Steven Rudd) and I a selection headache ahead of next week with the starting XI and the substitutes all pressing their claims for a shirt next week.”
Marske, now a Step 3 club, could only name three substitutes whilst Reds included seven on the team sheet with another seven not available for selection. Included on the bench was the most recent recruit, DJ Taylor, with an unnamed Trialist putting in an impressive shift at the heart of the defence.
Marske registered the first shot on target after nine minutes but Danny Eccles made a routine save in his first outing of pre-season.
And three minutes later Reds opened the scoring with a well worked goal. Dav Symington found James Hooper with a fine diagonal pass, the latter fed the marauding Tom Mahone down the right and his low cross into the area was fumbled by United ‘keeper, Ryan Catterick. Lewis Reilly reacted first to the rebound and drove home his seventh goal of the summer from close range.
Symington went close to extending the lead soon after when a ferocious left foot shot just cleared Catterick’s crossbar.
Workington’s play was tidy and efficient, Marske more wasteful with little end product.
But both sides were denied by excellent saves towards the end of a very warm first half.
Eccles’ brilliant reflex stop kept out Jason Kennedy’s header at one end whilst Catterick dived full length to push away a Reuben Jerome shot at the other.
Bobby Carroll was having his best game for Reds, giving a midfield master-class, and he fed Hooper through the inside right channel. Hooper looked a good bet to grab Reds’ second but Catterick advanced quickly to block the shot – a great save or a bad miss?
But that deserved second goal did come after sixty two minutes. Steven Rigg was hauled to the ground when breaking through and ‘you know who’ did the rest from the subsequent free-kick.
We all knew the script, and I suspect the Marske defence did too, but Symington still found the gap between near post and goalkeeper for a superb second.
Reds controlled the game until the eightieth minute mark but Marske came into the picture in the closing stages and almost salvaged a draw with a late rally.
They reduced the arrears seven minutes from the end when the 6’ 5” Connor Simpson scored with a fine goal when the ball was headed down to him and, in their next attack, the slightly shorter Adam Wheatley saw a thumping far post header rattle Eccles’ right hand upright.
But Reds’ makeshift defence, even more unfamiliar at that point, survived a flurry of corners to complete a hard fought win.
No points at stake, of course, but the aim will be all three next week.
Marske United: Catterick, Smith, Curl (Trialist, 60), Butterworth (Guilfoyle, 60), Storey, Wheatley, MacDonald, Gell, Boyes, Hopson (Simpson, 74), Kennedy.
Workington: Eccles, Mahone (Howarth, 84), Birch (Leslie, 75), Trialist, Lightfoot (Casson, 60), Carroll, Symington, Hooper (Palmer, 60), Reilly (Taylor, 80), Jerome (Rigg, 50), Tinnion. Substitute: Paden-Gale (not used).
Referee: Liam Smith, Middlesbrough
Yellow card: Carroll (Workington)