11.3.2017

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Workington

May (60), Waterston (75)

(0) 0

(0) 2

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

358

Tom Thorley

W L D L L W W L W L

Coalville Town (A) 18.3.17

There are many words to best describe the Pitmen's performance today; disinterested, disjointed, laboured, effortless and several other, stronger phrases. Either way, the players and management should be sitting uneasily this evening after Hednesford turned in what could be perceived as their worst display of the season to allow play-off chasing Workington to canter to a win, playing the majority of the game with only ten men

 

Rumours around Keys Park suggested that this would be the caretaker management team's final game in charge, with a new manager likely to be appointed on Monday morning a full five weeks after Paul Casey resigned. There had still been plenty of activity coming in and out during the previous week though despite the imminent arrival of the new man at the helm, with George Cater, Joe Ballinger, Louis Danquah and Bradley Peace-McDonald all arriving at the club yesterday and Kyle Haynes heading out of the club

 

Workington arrived at Keys Park off the back of a narrow win over relegation-threatened Marine in midweek, recovering from a shock defeat to rock-bottom Skelmersdale United the previous Tuesday which had put a dent in the play-off ambitions of the Reds. Manager Gavin Skelton made one change to the side that had come away from Merseyside with three points on Tuesday night as Dave Symington replaced Gari Rowntree in midfield

 

The Pitmen made a bright start on a dreadful, degrading surface at Keys Park and created several good openings in the opening quarter of the game. Jacob Simpson's miscued backpass to keeper Aaran Taylor almost gifted the Pitmen an early opener, but his fifth-minute ball just missed the left-hand post and went out for a corner kick, much to both player's relief as Taylor scrambled back to get to the backpass

 

A great run from George Washbourne saw the winger skip past Simpson and attempt to lift the ball over the top of Taylor a minute later only to be denied by a timely clearance from Kyle May, who did well to get back and cover behind his goalkeeper and hack the ball to safety

 

Workington's response saw an effort from Symington flash of Dan Crane's goal in the ninth minute after he had picked the ball up following a misplaced pass from Dan Brenan

Striker Scott Allison also failed to test Crane three minutes later, lifting his shot wide of goal as he nipped in behind the retreating Hednesford defence that was looking of an offside flag against Workington's top scorer

Danny Glover went close to adding to his twelve goals for the season on fifteen minutes as he seized upon a downward header that came up short from May to lift the ball over the advancing Taylor and narrowly over the crossbar with a rising shot that the Reds keeper got a touch on with his arm

 

The visitors forced several corners kicks out of the Pitmen midway through the first half but failed to test the Hednesford backline with Nat Brown and Brenan playing well again at centre-back. The closest they came to opening the scoring was a drifting header from May on twenty-one minutes at the far post

Brenan headed wide for the home side at the other end of the pitch on twenty-five minutes as he got on the end of a Tom Thorley free-kick at the far post to head over the upright

Three minutes later, neat football from skipper Thorley saw him drift past Connor Tinnion and play the ball through to Tony Clarke, only for a combination of the presence of May and Clarke's dithering to culminate in a weak shot from the striker that rolled wide of the post

With half an hour on the clock, Tinnion made a good run down the right flank to beat Campion for pace and whip in a cross to the near post that was turned well wide by youngster Sam Joel as he beat Brenan to the cross

 

A game lacking in any real quality sparked into life on thirty-five minutes as a strong challenge from Washbourne on defender James Earl prompted an angry response from the Workington midfielder, who showed poor discipline in pushing the winger over in an angry reaction. The referee was left with no choice but to send Earl off for violent conduct, leaving Workington a man short for the remainder of the game

 

 Washbourne himself incurred the wrath of the referee just before the half-time whistle as a high challenge from the winger on Simpson prompted the official to show Washbourne a yellow card

 

Whatever was said to the players at the half-time break by the interim management team failed to have the desired effect - in fact, it appeared to have the opposite effect - as the Pitmen turned in a dreadful second-half display that allowed their ten-man opponents to take charge of the game

 

Washbourne's toe-poke at Taylor showed early promise for the home side as he got on the end of another fine pass from Thorley on forty-eight minutes to turn the ball goalwards from fifteen yards out

Joel nipped in behind Brown four minutes later to take advantage of a slip from the veteran defender but found Crane in commanding form at his near post to parry the shot away from danger

On fifty-six minutes, Crane's long ball forwards was headed back into the Hednesford half by May and picked up by Allison, who turned Brenan and laid the ball into the path of Tinnion. He once again got the better of Campion and clipped the ball into the Hednesford penalty rea where Crane was on hand to turn the ball away from the incoming Josh Calvert

 

An angry Washbourne was taken off just before the hour mark to prevent him from being sent off after a couple of over-the-top challenges on Workington players; he was replaced by Jordan Fitzpatrick, who slotted into the centre of midfield

 

The Pitmen, for some reason, struggled to keep the ball for any length of time throughout the second half, giving the ball away cheaply and failing to utilise their numerical advantage by using the width of the pitch to drag Workington out of position. Lewis Wright and Fitzpatrick were particularly guilty of wasting possession in good positions, with Clarke also losing the ball cheaply to a composed Workington defence

 

Workington took full advantage of the home side's lack of desire and quality and took the lead with their first-ever goal at Keys Park on the hour mark; Tinnion's deep free-kick found May lurking at the far post, with the centre-back heading firmly home above Wright to open the scoring for the ten-man visitors

 

Clarke's game ended on sixty-four minutes as new signing Cater was given chance to show his worth up front in place of the former Lichfield City man, who had looked way out of his depth for the majority of the game

 

Glover was still looking to produce a spark for the Pitmen as he picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area on sixty-nine minutes, turning and shooting from twenty yards out that was straight into the arms of Taylor

 

As the Pitmen looked to commit more men going forwards, the gaps started to appear at the back with Workington almost taking advantage on seventy-two minutes through Nathan Waterston, who raced onto a Simpson through ball before firing into the side netting from a tight angle

 

Another new face emerged from the bench to try and rescue a point for the Pitmen on seventy-four minutes as Mansfield Town loanee Danquah came on for the desperately disappointing David McDermott, who had barely featured in the game own the left-wing

 

The substitution failed to have the desired approach though, as Workington doubled their lead a minute later through a comedy of errors in defence from the Pitmen. Wright's header back towards Crane was woefully short, allowing Waterston to nip in and lob the ball over the horribly exposed Crane and into the net to settle the game in Workington's favour

 

The Pitmen's left-field response to going two goals down was to move veteran centre-back Brown forwards to give them more physical presence and dropping Glover into midfield. This seemed particularly desperate and short-sighted by the interim management team as they looked for any sort of response from their team

 

On-loan Boston man Brown did test Taylor's reflexes with eleven minutes of the game remaining, striking a bobbling shot that was an easy save for the Workington keeper from just inside the Workington penalty area

 

Cater joined Washbourne in the book on eighty-three minutes, sliding in on May and seemingly making no contact, but deeming it a poor enough challenge with intent to earn a yellow card from the referee

 

A frustrating final few minutes for the home side saw Glover's shot blocked by Rob Wilson and Brown's downward header cleared off the line by substitute Rowntree as the Pitmen pushed for a goal, all to no avail as Workington did enough to see off the meek challenge of their hosts to clinch an easier-than-expected three points

 

A very demoralising defeat for the Pitmen and their supporters which left any lingering play-off hopes now put to bed with another 2017 defeat. The new manager, whoever this may be, has got a lot of work ahead of them to garner any team spirit in the remaining ten games as the Pitmen already start to look towards the 2017-2018 season after what has been a rollercoaster campaign of tremendous highs and embarrassing lows. Next up - a short trip across to Leicestershire to face Coalville Town, winners in their first-ever trip to Keys Park in November

 

Hednesford Town: Crane, Wright, Campion, McNaught, Brown, Brenan, Washbourne  (Fitzpatrick 59), Thorley ©, Glover, Clarke (Cater 64 ), McDermott (Danquah 75)      Subs Unused: Ransome, Ballinger

 

 Workington: Taylor, Simpson, Smith, May, Calvert, Earl  (35), Symington (Rowntree 45), Wilson, Allison, Joel (Waterston 69), Tinnion       Subs Unused: Ryan, Douglas, Cham

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