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Weary Reds edged out in thriller PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Goose goal.jpgStourbridge 3, Workington 2

In the end it was probably one game too far – or at least one period of extra time too much!

Reds went down after a battling performance at the War Memorial Ground, twice coming from behind to take the play-off semi-final to extra time.

Playing their fifth game in ten days Reds were practically running on empty in the 30 minutes of extra time.

The Northern Premier League committee say they are going to look again at the way the play-offs are fitted-in next season. They may even start the season a week earlier.

But that’s no consolation for weary Workington who were forced to fit-in a game against Ilkeston that had been called-off earlier through no fault of their own.

After the game, co-manager Dave Hewson said: “The dressing room is hurting right now. But Lee (Andrews) and myself are so proud of how this group of players have responded throughout the season.

“We had won ten out of our last 12 games in the regulation season to earn the play-off place and we have always had great faith in the ability of the players.Offside goal.jpg

“It was really tough having to play five games in ten days but we so nearly pulled it off.“

After a cagey first-half, in which Stourbridge led 1-0, Reds upped their game and that was the catalyst for a superb second-half.

It was a terrific advert for the Northern Premier League, end to end and with chances for both sides.

The Stourbridge management team were especially fulsome in their praise of the Reds.

“It was a game in which neither side deserved to lose,” said manager Gary Hackett.

There were few openings in the first-half and the only goal came on 32 minutes when Stuart Pierpoint got free in the box to head in a free-kick from skipper Tom Tonks.

But in a pulsating second-half the opportunities presented themselves at both ends.

Workington appeared to have scored an equaliser on 61 minutes when Scott Allison was on hand to net after goalkeeper Matt Gould had blocked a shot from Dave Symington. But the flag was raised for offside, a decision which was probably the wrong one.

Calvert header.jpgSymington was particularly impressive in the second half and he scored the equaliser on 69 minutes when he blasted a free-kick round the wall and into the bottom corner.

The dangerous Luke Benbow, the League’s leading scorer, restored the Glassbos’ lead on 77 minutes.

His curled shot from the edge of the area wasn’t seen until late by Aaran Taylor as it squeezed past several players in the box and finished in the bottom corner beyond the diving keeper.

Taylor then made a couple of important stops and there was a goal-line clearance by Sam Smith while Allison was put through by substitute Kyle May but lifted he ball over Gould and just past the post.

It was all-action stuff and in keeping with the way the half had gone Workington levelled again in the third minute of the five added on.

Conor Tinnion curled in a corner from the right and Dan Wordsworth rose majestically to head into the top corner.

The tie was settled in th sixth minute of the first period of extra time. Wordsworth, who had been magnificent in defence for Reds, slipped on the surface and it allowed Jordan Archer to go through and fire past Taylor.

Reds battled on – they had lost skipper Gary Rowntree with a suspected broken ankle – and several players were feeling the effects of the punishing schedule.

Sam Smith had a header cleared off the line; Allison was just over the bar with a rifled drive and both Symington and Tinnion had shots blocked by brave challenges in the box.

Once again, for a third successive time, Workington had reached the play-offs

But had been unable to see it through when this time, the odds were heavily stacked against them.

They have the chance to finish the season on a high next week when they take on Penrith at Brunton Park, Carlisle in the final of the Cumberland Cup.Gould punch.jpg

Workington: Taylor, Simpson, Rowntree (May 86), Wordsworth, Smith, Earl (Joel 80), Allison, Wilson (Wright 103), Tinnion. Subs (not used) Ryan, Waterston.

Stourbridge: Gould, Preston, Westlake, Tonks, Digie, Pierpoint, Dodd (Canavan 71), Broadhurst, Benbow, Jones (Birch 80), Archer (Brown 109). Subs (not used) Green, Westwood.

Referee: Thomas Kirk

Crowd: 1,626

Top photographer ROBERT RATHBONE covered the semi-final at Stourbridge and in descending order snapped Dan Wordsworth heading Reds dramatic late equaliser; Scott Allison netting only to be ruled offside; the excellent Josh Calvert winning yet another header and home keeper Matt Gould punching clear from Allison

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