Late leveller for Lancaster
Reds’ impressive run throughout Autumn and early Winter extended to sixteen matches but, after conceding so late in the day, this draw felt like a defeat.
“We have one deflated dressing room in there after conceding that late equaliser,” was Lee Andrews take on matters after City scored in the third minute of time added on.
The fact that the Dolly Blues scored two wonder goals is of little consolation to Reds, but the fact that decisions in the build-up to both went against them rankles a bit.
Billy Akrigg curled in the first equaliser from twenty-five yards following a debatable throw in which Dav Symington claimed was Workington’s. Those things go either way so you accept it is a part and parcel of the game.
But City’s ninety-third-minute heart-breaker was more controversial. Reds were trying to waste time near the corner flag with Scott Allison shielding the ball from his blue-shirted marker.
It is a tactic Reds have never quite mastered but they were wronged on this occasion when the referee penalised Allison for no apparent reason.
Admittedly, Lancaster still had to work the ball the length of the field and there were opportunities to clear the danger before Charlie Bailey restored parity in spectacular fashion.
Poor defending, a bit of bad luck or a touch naive? Let’s be kind and say a bit of all three!
Without being at their best, Reds were in control of the situation and should have had the points safely in the bag long before the dramatic finale.
The fact that they weren’t was down to understudy goalkeeper, Chris Cheetham, who was erratic in the first half but quite outstanding in the second. It was his handling error that led to Reds opening goal after twelve minutes with Phil McLuckie pouncing to drive home the loose ball after a Conor Tinnion and Symington free kick routine had caused the problem.
That was just after he had fumbled an earlier Tinnion strike.
At the other end, one time Reds’ target, Ryan Winder, tested Aaran Taylor with the latter dealing confidently with a well-struck twenty-five yarder, then diving to his right to push away a free kick.
Reds needed that second goal and it looked as though they might get it when Allison’s defence-splitting pass released Sam Joel. But Cheetham atoned for his earlier blunder by smothering the ball at Joel’s feet.
Cheetham again earned backslaps from his colleagues in the second half when, in the space of ten seconds, he thwarted Allison, Tinnion and Joel in quick succession with fine reflex saves.
City’s first substitute, Akrigg, made it all square in the seventy-first minute but Reds response was stunning and a minute later they were back in front. Symington’s diagonal ball found Joel and he moved the ball wide to the outstanding Tinnion. His wand of a left foot sent the ball around Cheetham and into the far corner of the net.
He should have scored another soon after but Cheetham stood tall and blocked the shot.
But the homeside dropped their direct approach in the final few minutes and started to get behind Reds’ rearguard. Richard Mercer met one teasing cross but headed straight into Taylor’s arms when it looked easier to score.
And their persistence was rewarded with that last-gasp equaliser leaving Reds to rue those squandered opportunities.
They ended the day in third position but it was a case of two points dropped rather than one gained.
Lancaster City Cheetham, Hudson, Dugdale (Bailey C, 79), Wills, Steel, Mercer, Winder (Kilifin, 60), Bailey S, Williams, Carney (Akrigg, 46), Jarvis. Substitutes – Clark, Henry (not used).
Workington Taylor, Douglas, Rowntree, Wordsworth, Calvert, Wilson (Earl, 74), Symington, McLuckie, Allison, Joel (Mellen, 88), Tinnion. Substitutes – Harker, Holliday and Fowler (not used).
Referee Elliott Swallow, Blackpool
Bookings: Wills (Lancaster City), Wilson, Wordsworth and Allison (Workington)