A minute of applause preceded kick-off as the footballing family paid tribute to David Wilkes and Billy Griffin who, sadly, passed away during the ‘off season’. Wilkes served United in various roles for nearly three decades whilst Griffin was a Workington hero during the late sixties.
We then witnessed Workington’s best ninety minutes of disciplined football so far and, by a distance, their best performance in what is becoming a very wet pre-season.
There is no suggestion that they ever looked like winning the Cumbrian derby but fair to say that Paul Simpson’s side, comfortable winners in the end, had to work hard for the victory.
And whilst the Blues keep adding to a squad that will return to League One in three weeks’ time, Danny Grainger has to plan around absenteeism – injuries (part of the game, unfortunately) holidays and weddings (which accounted for four of his regulars).
That said, a very young Reds side gave a good account of themselves. They pressed well, defended competently and bravely then, on the rare occasions when in possession, they moved the ball about efficiently with a high percentage of accuracy.
Kofi Moore made his debut for the hosts and showed glimpses of what he’s about whilst the other new recruits, Aidy Roxburgh and Finlay Wallbank, continue to impress as they get to know their new colleagues.
Of the seniors, Bobby Carroll was outstanding, Lewis Reilly not far behind in graft and effort, skipper, Conor Tinnion, displaying all his talents whilst he was on the pitch and Sam Smith reminding us all how important he will be this term.
The youngsters and trialists did their bit too and weren’t just there to make up the numbers.
Facing the horizontal rain in the first half, Reds had to be resilient and, around the half hour mark, survived four or five corners in quick succession.
United’s patience was rewarded after thirty-eight minutes when they opened the scoring. Jordan Gibson and Jack Armer managed to wriggle out of a tight space on the left and the latter’s cross cleared everyone in the area but found Jack Ellis who despatched the ball into the Derwent End net with the sweetest of connections.
Would that signal a deluge of goals to match the depressing July weather? Well, Reds survived to half time but the contest was effectively over within eight minutes of the restart.
Less than four minutes of the second period had elapsed when Alfie McCalmont, who scored a pre-season goal for Morecambe at Borough Park, doubled United’s lead when he left-footed the ball into the roof of the net after John Mellish’s low cross into the area had been parried by the Reds’ keeper.
Jordan Gibson, one of only two Blues’ players to complete the ninety, bagged the third goal after fifty-three minutes. He rifled his first attempt against the near post but, when the ball conveniently found a way back to him, his second shot came to rest in the opposite corner of the Town End goal.
Reds’ trialist goalkeeper had saved well from Mellish in the first half and denied Joe Garner in the second but United’s two keepers were hardly tested.
Grant Holt was one of the drenched spectators amongst the bumper crowd and it was great to see him back at Borough Park where his illustrious career started twenty-five years ago!
Workington: Trialist, Roxburgh, Leslie, Wallbank, Smith, Moore L, Moore K, Carroll, Reilly, Allison, Tinnion. Substitutes – Casson, McCaragher, Mugalula, Tait, Lester, Webster, Trialist, Martin (all used).
Carlisle United: Langley, Ellis, Lavelle, Huntington, Mellish, Armer, Moxon, Guy, McCalmont, Gibson, Edmondson. Substitutes – Holy, Garner, Charters, Harris, Whelan, Robinson, Kilsby, McGeouch, Barclay (all used).
Referee: Anthony Backhouse