A cold, wet night in Cheshire, a hundred and seventy miles from home, dumped out of the FA Trophy and bedtime pushed back to 2am. Yes, football returned for the Workington faithful and it was great to be back!
Thirty eight days since the previous outing, Reds returned to action and, typically I suppose, it was a mixed bag of a display – good, bad and indifferent!
Statistically, it was probably a good performance with several boxes ticked. They certainly enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, particularly in the second half, created far more chances than their Premier Division hosts and won the corner count 8-2.
But most of the positivity arrived after Reds gifted the Dabbers a two goal lead with manager, Danny Grainger, labelling our first half contribution as ‘second best’.
They conceded goals after twenty and thirty minutes showing a worrying naivety for both.
Early substitute, Callum Saunders, finished off a Nantwich counter attack by scoring the first, working his way along the bye-line to score from an acute angle when it looked impossible to do so.
The second was similar in that Reds were attacking and fell for the sucker punch with Town countering at speed and scoring when Scott McGowan converted a cross from the right.
If Reds had continued in that vein, it could have been a landslide victory for the opposition but, thankfully, they got to grips with the situation and Dave Cooke’s side was forced to defend for long periods in the second half.
Dav Symington had the first of several attempts at goal before Town had gone in front but his ‘thirty-yarder’ was dealt with by Gregory Hall, limping after coming off second best in 50/50 challenge from Liam Brockbank.
But the ‘keeper could only watch as Brad Hubbold’s shot from distance flew past him and struck the crossbar just before the interval.
Symington had another shot from outside the area saved by Hall, saw one effort blocked by a brave defender with a further attempt sailing over the perimeter fence.
Reuben Jerome, introduced as a second half substitute, also went close with a well struck shot just clearing the goal frame.
But Hall’s best save came via a deflection off his defensive colleague, Josh Langley, preventing an own goal and a Workington lifeline.
Hubbold again tested the ‘keeper before some untidy defending from Nantwich saw Conor Tinnion tripped inside the area.
After an agonising couple of seconds as the referee cleared his thoughts, the penalty was awarded. Skipper Tinnion subsequently converted in the seventy-seventh minute.
While all this was going on in the Nantwich half of the field, Jim Atkinson was reduced to the role of spectator at the other end although he did take a throw-in on one occasion, perhaps to relieve the boredom.
Sam Smith’s low strike did find a way into the Nantwich net but play had already been stopped because of a foul on a green-shirted defender.
The equaliser proved elusive and then Nantwich scored a gift-wrapped third seconds before the end. A long up-field clearance found the lively McGowan and, with Atkinson miles out of his area, he nonchalantly rolled the ball into the vacant net.
It was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things but a painful reminder that the better teams accept chances when presented with the opportunities and Reds couldn’t do that on the night.
Great to be back, though!
Nantwich Town: Hall, Bourne, Devine (Saunders, 10), Langley, Harrison, Hughes, Webb, Haywood, Heath (Lawrie, 61), McGowan, Walsh (Koral, 90). Substitutes – Mwasile, Parker, Pope, Hawkins (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Clarke (Jerome, 46), Brockbank, Smith, Casson (Holt, 73), Symington, Carroll, Potts (Bowman, 60), Hubbold, Tinnion. Substitutes – Kelly J, Robertson, Lightfoot, Ascroft (not used).
Referee: Karl Buckley, Northwich
Booking: Brockbank (Workington)