Borough Park fell silent prior to kick-off as home fans paid tribute to former physiotherapist, Jackie Cunningham, and life-long supporters Derrick Routledge, Len Brown, Dave Bowden (Sale), Ken Reed and Ian Ferguson all of whom passed away recently.
Thereafter, a boisterous crowd generated a great atmosphere as two of the West Division’s top three slugged it out in a gunfight at Borough Park.
As often is the case when two heavyweights meet, the sides effectively cancelled each other out and clear-cut chances were few and far between. We saw a different Macclesfield to the free-scoring side that has swept all before them this season, scoring over seventy league goals in the process.
They were rugged, resilient and determined to register a clean sheet yet confident that, if a chance came their way, they would take it.
That opportunity came in the eighteenth minute when their effective ‘high-press’ intercepted a stray pass with Alex Curran the beneficiary. He gathered the ball, advanced a few yards before shooting across Jim Atkinson for that crucial first (and only) goal.
They had squandered an easier opportunity earlier when Daniel Sweeney shot wide after getting through a little too easily.
But Reds gave it a right good go and the play was efficient until the last third. They often got behind Macc’s defensive line but the crosses were dealt with by Laurent Mendy & Co or overhit.
Charlie Birch found himself in a decent shooting position soon after the opener but a rash finish left him still waiting for his first goal in Workington colours.
David Symington had a couple of goal-bound efforts blocked but the one that did register on target was gathered by the Barrovian, Wyll Stanway, at the second attempt.
There were calls for a penalty when Stanway and Reuben Jerome collided inside the area but the referee decided it was nothing sinister.
Atkinson was forced into action early in the second half when Kane Drummond sent a shot in his direction but, generally, neither goalkeeper was overworked with both back fours nullifying opposition attacks.
It had been a hard, competitive contest, yet fair, but became rather feisty in the later stages.
Birch and Drummond got involved in a bit of afters following the latter’s challenge on Kai Nugent and both collected a yellow card – others escaped punishment.
And then a mistimed Sam Smith tackle was punished with a red card, which seemed harsh from my vantage point but the referee acted swiftly on what he saw.
It obviously meant a lot to the Macclesfield contingent who celebrated enthusiastically with their fans at the final whistle as they completed a league double over a gallant Workington.
Reds’ sixth defeat effectively rules them out of what had become an unlikely title bid with a twelve-point gap now separating them and the Silkmen.
Workington: Atkinson, McCaragher, Birch (Rigg, 90), Wordsworth, Smith, Casson (Reilly, 69) Symington, Farmer (Carroll, 55) Jerome, Nugent, Tinnion. Substitutes – Leslie, Clarke (not used).
Macclesfield: Stanway, Pemberton, Lee, Fensome, Mendy, Murphy, Kengni (Cowan, 80), Danns, Sweeney (Massanka, 67), Curran, Fage (Drummond, 46). Substitutes – Maynard, Thorpe (not used).
Referee: Thomas Wilson
Bookings: Wordsworth, Birch (Workington), Fensome, Drummond (Macclesfield)
Red card: Smith (Workington)