Workington’s FA Youth campaign is over for another year but the young Reds can feel a sense of pride despite just falling short in this closely fought encounter.
Although they acquitted themselves well in the defensive and middle sections of the pitch, they lacked a cutting edge in the final third – that little bit of quality which converts a solid performance into a winning display.
Stockton dominated much of the first half and it was Reds dogged resilience which kept them in the tie.
Scott Paden-Gale was the busier of the two ‘keepers and he was twice forced into action before his colleagues engaged first gear. He comfortably smothered shots from distance to deny Jos Storr and Jack Williams then made even better saves to thwart Storr, again, and Alfie Conway.
The closest Reds came to a response was Logan Bosward just failing to connect to a far post header with a glimpse of the goal beckoning. And a Bosward cross from the right found Matty Foster but his near post attempt was blocked by Harvey Barker’s challenge.
Unfortunately, Foster sustained a recurrence of an ankle injury in attempting to score and he hobbled off on the stroke of half time.
Reds suffered another blow immediately after the restart, conceding what proved to be the winning goal.
Lloyd Shobo proved a tricky customer throughout the game and he gained possession in a crowded area and his low shot found the far corner of the net for the forty-sixth minute decider.
Injuries and the goal forced Reds into a tactical switch and they enjoyed better spells of possession and looked more comfortable moving forward. Tyler Harrell headed one cross from Thomas Downes narrowly over the bar, Tom Skinner should have done better with a chance at the far post following a corner and Evan Stephenson sent a low shot a foot wide of the upright.
They dominated the final fifteen minutes but a lack of composure in and around the Stockton area ultimately proved their downfall.
The hosts looked the more likely to score a second goal and, just before the end, Joel White’s thumping shot rattled the post before rebounding to safety.
Invaluable experience for Brian Dawson’s side but it was Stockton who progress and they can now look forward to a tie at South Shields in the Second Qualifying Round.
Stockton Town Hudson, Spuhler, Taylor, Skull, Barker, Miller, Jones, Storr, Shobo, Conway, Williams. Substitutes – Hood, Johnson, White, Hodgkinson.
Workington Paden-Gale, Bosward (Downes, 52), Whitehead, Stephenson, Skinner, Burns, Lowrie, Hambling, Foster (Harrell, 45), Webster, Pears (Martin, 48). Substitues – Graham, Brodie (not used).
Referee Kevin McKitterick
Booking: Skull (Stockton Town)