A superb disciplined performance maintained Workington’s five point lead at the top of NPL West with this first ever win against a Runcorn side, avenging Linnets victory at Borough Park in October.
Since that setback, Chris Willcock’s team have amassed thirty four points in an unbeaten twelve match run and they never looked in danger of losing this one as they nullified one of the division’s most potent attacks.
The first half was all about survival and with chances from both sides almost non-existent, Workington reached the interval content they had dealt with the storm force wind, the winter sun in their eyes and anything Runcorn had to offer.
In-form David Symington dragged one free kick wide of Runcorn’s left hand post then, from open play, saw a well struck shot narrowly miss the target.
There was concern when Linnets’ Kain Dean clattered into the perimeter fence, after a coming together with Kyle Harrison, and the defender required lengthy attention after a cut to the eye. He bravely continued, head bandaged, and would emerge one of Runcorn’s more effective players on the day.
The home side had a spell on top around the half hour mark but a couple of free kicks and two corners failed to trouble Reds’ rearguard.
One local weather forecast suggested the wind would die down during the second half but, if anything, it seemed worse and Runcorn sorties over the half-way line were few and far between.
Indeed, the Cumbrians appeared the more likely to break the deadlock with Symington having one effort saved by Scott Reed only then to side-foot an easier chance wide of the target, whilst a Connor Gaul cross took off in the wind and landed on the top of Reed’s net.
Thomas Lloyd Marsh-Hughes broke clear for Linnets but was well off target with a hurried effort.
The opening goal came after sixty-nine minutes and involved four Workington players, with green and yellow shirted defenders conspicuous by their absence. Jim Atkinson volleyed the ball to Symington wide on the right, he touched the ball inside to Ceiran Casson who, in turn, spotted Brad Hubbold’s run into the box and the ‘Workington Iniesta’ finished exquisitely by rolling the ball into the vacant net.
A game short on quality brought to life with an excellent goal.
Reed made the save of the match shortly after when he pushed away an angled drive from Symington.
Reds doubled their advantage after eighty-six minutes when Scott Fenwick registered his first goal for the club. His run into the box was checked by Reed and the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot.
Fenwick confidently converted with the goal enthusiastically celebrated by his new team mates and fans alike.
Fellow substitute, Josh Dixon, made his Reds debut and acquitted himself well during his late cameo.
Linnets staged a late revival and they dominated the final ten minutes which included six minutes of stoppage time.
They reduced the arrears with a ninety minute strike when Dean, now with stitches in his head wound, planted a half volley into the net to spark a nervous finale for the Reds fans in a bumper crowd.
An equaliser eluded them, though, and Atkinson picked up a justified yellow card for deliberate time wasting only then to waste more seconds retrieving objects thrown from the crowd.
Runcorn Linnets: Reed, Wylie, Dean, Welsh, Downes, O’Mahoney, Lynch, Doyle (Gumbs, 46), Brooke (Olarewaju, 78), Murray, Marsh-Hughes. Substitutes – Crilly, Hayes, Steele (not used).
Workington: Atkinson, Harrison, Clarke, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson, Symington, Carroll, Jerome (Dixon, 78), Hubbold, Gaul (Fenwick, 68). Substitutes – Bowman, Leslie, Eccles (not used).
Referee: Jordan Crossley
Bookings: Lynch (Runcorn Linnets), Harrison, Atkinson (Workington)