The perfect response from Danny Grainger’s side after the two recent ‘failures’ on home soil, with Reds looking more like promotion candidates in another dominant display on the road.
To make a fellow play-off rival look ordinary for most of the game says much about Workington’s performance and this special ninety minutes substantiates the equally impressive wins at Mossley and Leek in recent weeks.
This tenth away win completed a league double over Dave Wild’s side and, although still a fair distance behind the top two, Reds have opened up a twelve-point cushion between themselves and fourth placed Clitheroe.
In the mood from the off, Workington were quickly into their stride with the neat passing and movement football causing Linnets plenty of problems on a firm, true surface.
A strong cross wind didn’t help the hosts either and they were pinned into their own half for the bulk of the first forty-five minutes.
And it was probably the conditions which helped Workington get their noses in front after sixteen minutes. Conor Tinnion took the free kick from out wide on the right and the delivery towards the far post area was perfect – so good, in fact, that the ball deceived goalkeeper, Lian Lovell, and curled into the net.
Scoring first makes such a difference to the Cumbrians and they were confidently using the ball to good effect. Skipper Tinnion came close to doubling the lead, a sweetly-struck half volley whistling inches past Lovell’s left-hand post.
A second goal did come in the twenty-third minute, the result of some fine, one-touch passing involving two boys in men’s clothing. Bobby Carroll and Kai Nugent, making his full debut, linked well before the latter’s assist culminated in Scott Allison rolling the ball into the net.
Tinnion could have claimed the match-ball before half time had he been more clinical with a header, comfortably dealt with by Lovell, and a shot which he dragged just wide of the target.
Linnets were probably cursing their luck when they resumed for the second half. The strong wind had abated slightly but, regardless, they made a promising start suggesting they might still turn the game in their favour.
Top scorer Jamie Rainford should have done better with his first opportunity, dragging a shot wide, but Oliver McFadyen was unlucky not to reduce the arrears soon after. His well struck attempt took a slight deflection but rattled the crossbar before the danger was averted.
That bit of luck was appreciated by the Cumbrians and it was they who looked the more likely to score the third goal of the afternoon. Lovell pushed away two efforts from David Symington and Carroll and a couple of goal mouth scrambles saw at least one shot cleared off the line.
Nugent had looked the part with his skill, determination and tenacity confirming he was ready for senior football but one foul was memorable. It earned him a booking, and Danny Grainger had no qualms about that, but to see a Linnets defender, twice the size of Nugent, left in a heap on the turf speaks volumes about the teenager’s character.
Workington were in control but one raid down the left gave Linnets a late lifeline. James Short delivered a decent cross, Rainford nudged the ball into Ryan Brooke’s path and he sent the ball into the net with a superb finish in the eighty-ninth minute.
Could we expect the late drama this fixture conjured up in the Borough Park encounter? The answer was an emphatic no!
Workington advanced into Runcorn territory and restored their deserved two goal advantage within a minute. The two substitutes, Lewis Reilly and Reuben Jerome, combined with the latter, cutting in from the right, sending a powerful strike past the ‘keeper via the underside of the bar.
A job very well done.
Next-up, the small matter of leaders, Macclesfield, coming to town on Saturday.
Runcorn Linnets: Lovell, Brown, Gumbs (Short, 65), Moore, O’Mahony, Heathcote, Hayes, Doyle, Rainford, Brooke, McFadyen. Substitutes – Turner, Roberts, Birchall (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, McCaragher, Birch, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson, Symington, Carroll (Rigg, 83), Allison (Jerome, 46), Nugent (Reilly, 70), Tinnion. Substitutes – Leslie, Clarke (not used).
Referee: Declan Brown, Manchester
Bookings: Hayes, Wild (Runcorn Linnets), Symington, Nugent (Workington)