Football returned to Borough Park but, unfortunately, the spectators couldn’t.
Reds’ Development Squad came out of Lockdown 3 and, after just one training session, hosted fellow County League side, Aspatria, in a warm-up friendly ahead of the season’s restart.
And, although both teams were off the pace initially, it proved a worthwhile exercise as preparation for the resumption of competitive football this week.
Once Reds shook off the rust and got into their stride, they played some decent football, scored four excellent goals and won comfortably enough by the finish. But the downside was squandering several more chances and allowing Aspatria to stay in contention after conceding two sloppy goals.
Brian Dawson was able to give some much needed game time to twenty players including four invited in on a trial basis.
The upshot was a straightforward victory which avenged a narrow pre-season defeat by Aspatria last September.
Reds were two ahead at St. Mungo’s Park in the previous meeting but eventually lost 3-2. They were also two goals clear in this encounter but didn’t let the advantage slip on this occasion.
They suffered an early blow when Joe Palmer hobbled off injured but, in the seventeenth minute, a well worked goal opened the scoring in their favour. Palmer’s replacement, Carl Lightfoot, sent a diagonal ball wide to Matty Hartley and his low cross was cleverly converted by Matty Foster.
Reds doubled the advantage seven minutes later, this time via good work down the right flank. Dan Whitehead weaved inside and found Foster who had timed his run to perfection. He took the ball in his stride and dinked it over Shaun Haughan as the ‘keeper advanced off his line.
But Aspatria hit back and reduced the arrears shortly after. Dan Pearson rose above the last defender and Reds goalkeeper and just got enough contact on the ball to send it over the line.
Back came black-shirted Reds and only the width of the crossbar prevented a third goal just before the break. Thomas Houghton sent a fierce shot goal-wards but the ball cannoned off the bar and rebounded to safety.
Five minutes after the restart, Reds did restore their two goal advantage with an eye-catching strike from Jack Burns. He collected the ball centrally, advanced a few yards before releasing a superb effort from outside the area which flew past the ‘keeper.
Burns almost repeated the feat a few minutes later but his second attempt rattled the crossbar.
A fourth goal did arrive after seventy minutes when Elliot Lowrie was handily placed to score after an earlier shot had been parried.
Foster had three attempts to complete his hat-trick but two of those were squandered and another was saved by Haughan at point-blank range.
Aspatria got a late consolation goal when Richard Hudson’s cross seemed to deceive Pearson and the Reds’ keeper and finished in the net followed, seconds later, by the final whistle.