Sam Sam Slam
The two Sams, Joel and Smith, netted second half goals securing the win which assured Workington of play-off qualification – for a third consecutive season!
In what has been a fantastic end to the regular season, Reds recorded a sixth successive win and a fifth clean sheet in a row with Saturday’s results determining exactly where they will finish in Evo-Stik’s Premier Division.
As things stand, they will be away in Tuesday’s semi-final.
They had to show great patience against already relegated Ilkeston with the beleaguered Derbyshire club technically better than Reds in the opening half hour.
The home side were playing the ‘percentages’ game but gradually found their feet before the interval and were dominant in the second half.
David Hewson again changed his starting XI with recalls for Gari Rowntree, Kyle May, Dav Symington and Nathan Waterston replacing Jake Simpson, Dan Wordsworth, Sam Joel and Jack Ryan respectively. And credit to the management who have used the full squad wisely in what has been a hectic month.
They were restricted to half chances in the opening forty five minutes but Waterston, Rob Wilson and Scott Allison all brought the best out of talented ‘keeper, Dale Eve. The visitors went even closer to an opener when skipper, Matt Baker, met Tom Gamblen’s free kick but, thankfully, his header rebounded off the upright.
After the restart, they did get the ball in Aaran Taylor’s net but Anthony Dwyer was flagged offside in the build-up, a marginal decision that went in Reds’ favour.
The tension on the terraces was eased in the sixty-fifth minute when Reds opened the scoring via a well worked set piece. Wilson chipped the ball into a crowded area, Kyle May headed across goal and Joel acrobatically hooked the ball home from close range.
And, thirteen minutes later, the advantaged was doubled again via a dead ball situation. Conor Tinnion’s teasing corner from the right was met by Smith whose flicked header just made it over the line.
There was no way back for Ilkeston after that as Reds cruised towards a seventh league double and a twenty-sixth win overall. Only champions Blyth have won more matches then Reds this term!
In contrast, one fears for the future of Ilkeston who, just two years ago, were beating Workington in the play-offs. Their supporters and officials deserve better.
A frustrating night for the Robins got even worse just before the end, when Dwyer repeatedly questioned the referee’s integrity and was promptly shown a red card.
Shaun Goater, in charge of team affairs in recent weeks, praised Reds patience saying, “We frustrated them for a while in the first half but they were deserved winners in the end and I wish them well in their quest for promotion.”
David Hewson was almost speechless with excitement but, after calming down, described reaching the play-offs as “A fantastic achievement and I’m proud of everyone of them.”
Workington Taylor, Calvert, Rowntree, May, Smith, Earl (Wright, 56), Symington (Ryan, 84), Wilson, Allison, Waterston (Joel, 52), Tinnion. Substitutes – Wordsworth, Douglas (not used).
Ilkeston Eve, Thornberry, Scanlon, Leverock, Baker, Bather, Horne (Paine, 85), Gordon, Dwyer, Gamblen, Head (Tyrell, 71). Substitute – Tonge (not used).
Referee Nat Cox, Blackpool
Bookings: May, Smith, Tinnion (Workington), Scanlon, Gordon (Ilkeston)
Red card: Dwyer (Ilkeston)