There was certainly no ‘feel good’ factor at Borough Park after Storm Barra ripped through CA14 for three hours on Tuesday evening.
It left the club counting the cost of staging a game in a bitterly cold wind and horizontal rain – the second of the recognised storms to coincide with a home match.
How costly in terms of their title aspirations will become clearer in the weeks and months to come, but the pitch was left in a poor state of repair afterwards and the lowest league attendance for three years was nearly 300 below the season’s average.
If that was not enough to contend with, there was a power cut at the ground plunging the dressing rooms into darkness just before kick-off adding to the already delayed start due to Bootle’s travel problems.
To coin a phrase, ‘it was one of those nights when so much went wrong and little went right’.
The bone-chilled, sodden spectators huddled under the shelters and watched the action from afar as the teams and officials battled against hypothermia in the most hostile of conditions.
But instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, let’s first of all thank the players of both sides for trying to entertain in such fierce conditions. They all deserve a medal for battling against the elements for an hour and a half and if, there is any justice in this troubled world of ours, a draw had to be the outcome.
No team deserved to win, no team deserved to lose and Barra emerged the only winner on a stormy night.
It is difficult to criticise players’ contributions in such conditions but this was a great opportunity for Reds to retain top spot in NPL West in the only scheduled midweek fixture. The chance was squandered, though, and Reds actually did well to salvage a point having being behind twice in the first half.
Steven Rigg has been without a goal for two months but it was his unfortunate OG which broke the deadlock after nineteen minutes. On defensive duty for a Bootle corner, the ball deflected off the Reds’ centre forward to give the visitors an early advantage.
The response from the hosts was positive and, within three minutes, they were level. Brad Hubbold released David Symington and a typical strong finish from the top scorer restored parity.
Between the goals, Connor Gaul should have scored but his goal-bound effort was cleared off the line by Jay Roberts and the former suffered the same fate later in the first half, this time James McCarten completing a timely goal line clearance.
Bootle were back in front by then thanks to Tom Peterson’s wind assisted well struck effort from outside the area in the twenty fifth minute.
Reds were a tad unlucky to leave the field a goal down at the break, having played their better football when the conditions were against them.
Similarly, Bootle retained and moved the ball about better when facing the driving spear-like rain and Reds’ were unable to take advantage with the wind at their backs.
They lacked a degree of composure in the second half and numerous chances were wasted.
To their credit, they toiled away and, six minutes from time, scrambled an equaliser. Symington got away down the left and his low cross deflected off Jones with the partial save taking the ball towards Nic Evangelinos, who didn’t know much about his third goal of the season as the ball cannoned into the net.
Symington almost won it with two further efforts but it finished all square and the final whistle from a bedraggled Helen Conley signalled a charge to the comparative ‘warmth’ of the dressing rooms from the participating heroes.
Workington: Atkinson, Harrison, Clarke, Wordsworth, Smith, Casson (Bowman, 76), Symington, Hubbold, Rigg, Carroll, Gaul (Evangelinos, 62). Substitutes – Lawrence, Dmytrowski and Eccles (not used).
Bootle: Jones, Roberts, Carberry (Heaton-Robertson, 46), Bell, McCarten, McLoughlin, Ogunby, Millington, Peterson (McGowan, 78), Jackson, Homson-Smith. Substitute – Hamilton (not used).
Referee: Helen Conley, Ferryhill