Ossett United Vs Workington AFC
Wet and Wounded
Workington AFC rolled into town full of confidence, a slow initial start to the season fast developing into the kind of unstoppable form that had left them favourites for promotion before last season’s campaign was curtailed. United, on the back of a hard-fought first home win and a very good point away at Marske, were ready for the challenge in front of a sell-out 400 strong crowd, with an impressive and vocal contingent having made the long journey from West Cumbria.
With Jack Normanton up front ably assisted by attacking midfielders pressing the Workington defence, Ossett made a strong start kicking towards the bus station, culminating in just one real chance on 10 minutes, Jack Stockdill heading a Haswell corner into the Workington keeper’s hands.
The game then switched down to the bonfire end, with Workington forcing three consecutive corners of their own, without truly troubling Max Dearnley’s goal. A cagey 15 minutes followed, with United using both flanks well as the half progressed, but without the killer final ball or enough bodies in the box to convert. The referee’s book then dominated proceedings as the first half drew to a close, with no fewer than five players receiving yellows, often for what appeared petty offences from the sidelines. Four Ossett players received bookings in what was generally a clean-fought half, including key defence and defensive midfield positions.
Then came three minutes of woe for the home fans either side of the break, Scott Allison slotting Workington into the lead, converting a cross from the left in the first half’s final minute. Three minutes into the second period Max Dearnley got a hand to Reuben Jerome’s shot, but couldn’t quite keep it out. It had been almost a carbon copy move, this time the cross coming from the right. After 44 minutes as Workington’s equal, we were hit by a double hammer blow, made worse for the home fans by the tipping rain now lashing the Ingfield terraces.
With Nash Connolly and Aaron Haswell having switched wings for the second half, it would have been interesting to see how the lads would have fought back from one behind. The crucial early second goal, though, brought change, with George Green replacing Connolly. A third Workington goal, headed home by Brad Hubbold on 56 minutes from a corner, would bring further changes, with new signing Reggie Waud getting a first run-out on the sodden Ingfield turf.
The ref decided to entertain us further with the colourful selection of cards in his pocket. Workington’s Symington was the first to be cautioned this half, pulling down Harry Gagen near the dressing rooms, after which Gagen was replaced by Mitch Levi-Lewis. Green delivered a great free kick from the right, just evading Waud.
Wooding-Holt became the next Workington yellow. Ossett pressure followed, a Normanton cross towards Waud resulting in a corner. Ossett’s best move of the half involved Hardaker, Normanton and Green connecting well, with Green’s attempt from the right of the box just clearing the Workington crossbar.
One of my most vivid memories of watching Rotherham United as a lad was a February night under the Millmoor lights in 1982. Millers manager and giggling Question of Sport superstar Emlyn Hughes had brought in midfield hardman Gerry Gow to add bite to the centre of the park. Gow managed just two minutes on the field in his home debut against Derby County, booked first then dismissed for a second lunging tackle that would go down in local folklore. It’s vivid to me as the second incident happened right in front of me. Rotherham won that game with ten men, the first of nine straight wins in February alone that took us to the verge of promotion to the top-flight.
Back to the present, the final big incident of this game on 83 minutes is far from vivid to me. Sheltering in the shed from the soggy weather on the far side, the only bit of the ground not visible is the near touchline in the other half, which is where a lunging tackle from Ossett substitute Reggie Waud brought the next cards. Some maintain it was a deserved red, some say more a yellow. I didn’t see it or much of the resulting melee of bodies. Waud saw red, Workington’s Jerome yellow. We didn’t go on to win the game with ten men, but nine straight wins in November would be nice!
Two minutes later Casson became the final Workington yellow to round off an interesting afternoon for the man in black, with nine yellows and a straight red in a game that wasn’t dirty in the slightest. The Sheepicorns left the field dejected after a hard afternoon’s work, with the two teams equal in many respects and chances few and far between. Workington converted their chances though, were well-drilled and showed quality in possession, deserving to take the three points back home to West Cumbria.
A small minority of older fans will be able to remember Workington’s sad, struggling final years as a Football League club in the 1970s, when they were firmly rooted to the foot of the professional game, eventually voted out in 1977 in favour of Wimbledon. Fans older than myself may remember a more successful period in the 1960s when the Reds truly competed at that level. You get the feeling that Workington have reached their low point and that their curve will veer upwards from here. If the pandemic allows I’d love to make that long journey in January to Borough Park, one of the great old non-league grounds.
A quick summary of this game? Well, it was my birthday last week, yet I saw more cards on Saturday!