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Evo-Stik Northern Premier League


Tinnion (21), Rowntree (55), Allison (59), Holt (85)


Hednesford Town

Fox (36), Griffiths (44)

(1) 4

(2) 2



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Nathan Fox




Whitby Town (H) 8.12.18

Another turbulent week within Keys Park ends in another away defeat for the Pitmen this afternoon, with a patched-up Hednesford side made to pay for a lack of experience and know-how by a Workington side who plundered three second goals to claim all three points at Borough Park


It had - yet again - been another week of seismic changes to a bruised and battered football club that has become used to adverse news and constant knocks to its confidence. Management team Rob Smith and Larry Chambers had tendered their resignations to take the vacant Halesowen Town job, leaving caretaker/manager Francino Francis with a tough job to pick his side up after another week of upset behind the scenes. The former Hednesford defender had been busy bringing in new faces to simply enable him to put a squad together, having seen key first-team players Josh Craddock (injured), Matt Dodd (injured), Callam Mendez-Jones (unavailable), Joe Fitzpatrick (suspended) and Jed Davies (suspended) all unavailable for selection. Francis had brought in Solihull Moors duo Jordan Clarke and Reiss McNally on a dual registration deal, whilst bringing striker Romario Martin back from Rugby Town and midfielder Jack Hallahan in from Coalville Town. Hallahan and McNally were handed full debuts by Francis, with the substitute's bench filled by untested teenage players mainly from the academy squad


Workington - beaten at Keys Park back in September - had continued to struggle at the foot of the Evo-Stik Premier League table, starting play in 21st place ahead of league whipping boys North Ferriby United. The Reds had, however, made progress in the F.A. Trophy, having beaten league rivals Stalybridge Celtic in the previous round to set up a winnable home tie against Ramsbottom United in a bid to move into 2019 still in non-league's premier cup competition


The visitors were handed a self-inflicted psychological blow before the game started, as there as a realisation that the club's white home shirts had not travelled with the side. They were required to borrow Workington's grey and black striped away shirts as a substitute, something that historically has never been a positive sign for the club when it has happened previously


It was a dank, overcast afternoon in Cumbria, with the floodlights already in action long before the 3 pm kick-off as both sides got to grips with the heavy, sodden Borough Park pitch. Defender Sam Smith did well to twist his neck and head a Niall Cowperthwaite free-kick straight into the arms of Josef Bursik in the third minute with the first real opening of the game


Michael Howard was the first man in stripes to test the reflexes of Aaron Taylor in the Workington goal in the sixth minute, seizing on a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and taking the ball wide, before unleashing a shot that Taylor did well to palm away at his near post


Bursik denied Workington an opening goal on eight minutes, as the Stoke loanee made a rare error of judgement to allow Jordan Holt's low drive the bobble under his body and towards goal. However, Bursik did well to recover and claim the ball on the goal-line, ahead of the onrushing Jason Walker


A rare error from Sam Griffiths almost gifted Scott Allison a clear run on goal three minutes later, as the defender allowed Kieran Maguire to rob him of the ball and slip it through to Allison, only to be denied a shot on goal by excellent recovering defending from skipper Charlie Gatter


A quick break from Workington opened up the Pitmen on fifteen minutes, culminating in Bursik making a fine low save to deny Holt before the excellent Nathan Fox cleared the ball off the line as Walker again threatened to get on the end of the loose ball


The Pitmen had offered little as an attacking threat so far in a nervous opening quarter but created a superb chance to take the lead on sixteen minutes. A quick break saw Osebi Abadaki - back in the side after being discarded by Smith with only one game under his belt - make a powerful run towards the Workington goal before slipping the ball wide to the hardworking Dan Cockerline. The on-loan striker did well to pick out fellow loanee Howard, who turned the ball towards goal at the far post but was somehow denied a certain goal courtesy of a last-ditch block from Josh Calvert


From the resultant corner, the ball made it's way back out to Howard on the right wing. His dipping, swerving cross caused confusion in the Workington ranks, with a combination of Taylor and skipper Gari Rowntree keeping the ball away from Cockerline and Ruby Misambo in the six-yard box


Workington finally got themselves in front in slightly fortuitous circumstances midway through the first half, as Rowntree's forward header found Walker, whose lay-off was driven towards goal by Holt. The shot hit the heel of Holt's team-mate Connor Tinnion, who was handed the fortune of the ball settling neatly at his feet, with the midfielder slotting past Bursik from twelve yards out to give the Reds the lead


Despite the blow, Hednesford showed tremendous character to get themselves back in contention on thirty-six minutes after a period of growing pressure on the Workington goal. The away side's equaliser came through a surprising source, as Fox did well to drive into the Workington penalty area and try his luck with a bobbling effort that somehow managed to find the far corner of the net, with Taylor probably feeling he should have done better to keep the ball out as he allowed what appeared to be a tame effort to beat him to his left


The Pitmen had their tails up, and Cockerline headed a cross from Abadaki straight into the arms of Taylor on thirty-nine minutes, only to be denied by an earlier offside flag


Bursik was on hand to deny Workington an immediate second goal on forty-two minutes, making another fine save to his right to turn Tinnion's shot away from goal after Allison had played him in on goal


However, despite having to soak up pressure from the hosts, the Pitmen got a second goal for their efforts just before half-time; an inswinging corner from Howard found Griffiths six yards from goal, with the defender powerfully heading home from close-range for his second goal of the season


Workington made a half-time change, with club legend Kyle May coming on in place of Calvert to offer more experience in defence


The hosts picked up the pace in the opening stages of the second half, although it was Howard who had the best chance of the half as he cut inside from the left wing and saw his low shot saved by Taylor


The hosts won three free-kicks in a row as they made inroads into the Hednesford defence on fifty-five minutes before they levelled through Rowntree a minute later. The Pitmen failed to clear their lines from a left-wing cross, allowing the ball to drop to Rowntree. The skipper took a touch before drilling the ball past an unsighted Bursik from fifteen yards out to level matters once more


The comeback was complete from the Reds four minutes later as Rowntree's long ball found Allison, who did well to turn Misambo and fire low past Bursik from twelve yards out


The Pitmen looked to counter this double whammy with an attacking substitution on sixty-three minutes as defender Misambo was taken off for tactical reasons, with striker Martin coming on in his place as the visitors moved to a flat back four


Maguire lifted a great chance over the crossbar for the hosts on sixty-nine minutes, before Tinnion drilled a low, bobbling drive just wide of the far post three minutes later


The Pitmen's attacking threat had been nullified in a timid second-half display, with Howard once again looking likeliest to score for the away side as he fired well wide of goal on seventy-five minutes after Martin had been denied a shot inside the penalty area


With twelve minutes remaining, teenage striker Charlie Drain was handed his full debut by Francis as the frustrating Abadaki was replaced by the HTFC academy prospect


Workington continued to look for a killer fourth goal, with Walker's cross on eight minutes brought down by Allison before the striker found his shot blocked by both Griffiths and Bursik


The Reds finally put the result beyond doubt with five minutes left, as Holt did well to get the better of McNally down the left and send over a cross to Maguire, who turned the ball past Bursik from close range


In the final minute of the game, Howard was denied a third Hednesford goal by Taylor, who did well to stand up to the forward as he danced across the Workington penalty area looking to find an angle to get a shot away. Drain picked up the rebound but also saw his shot blocked as he tried to find a way through


It had been another rollercoaster afternoon of emotions for the loyal Hednesford supporters that had made the long journey north, having seen their mix-and-match show plenty of character and belief in the first half, but watched on helplessly as a more experienced Workington side dismantled all of the Pitmen's good work with a dominant second-half display in front of goal. The next seven days will once again see the Pitmen back in a holding pattern, as we await news of the club's next permanent manager - their 22nd since 2000 - and the likely changes to the squad that will come before we return to Keys Park next weekend to face fellow mid-table dwellers Whitby Town


Workington: Taylor, Smith, Rowntree ©, Wordsworth (Mellen 59), Calvert (May 45), Cowperthwaite (Hubbold 69), Holt, Maguire, Walker, Allison, Tinnon    Subs Unused: Joel, Paterson


Hednesford Town: Bursik, McNally, Fox, Gatter ©, Misambo (Martin 63), Griffiths, Curley , Hallahan, Cockerline, Howard, Abadaki (Drain 78)    Subs Unused: Veiga, Clarke, Turner

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