Reds retain the County Cup
The thought of a penalty shoot-out at the end of a 120 gruelling minutes was enough to spur Reds to victory as they grabbed a rather special winner towards the end of extra-time.
They have experienced enough spot-kick drama to last a lifetime this season but the Cumberland Cup final looked as though it was heading for a draw until David Symington, linking superbly with Scott Allison, netted a dramatic decider ninety seconds from the end.
It was tough on Penrith who gave a good account of themselves in only the third east versus west encounter in the final. They grabbed the lead towards the end of a mediocre first half, won the corner count convincingly, had confident appeals for a penalty turned down and squandered one or two gilt-edged chances.
Everyone knew everyone else in this red and blue cocktail with ten members of the Penrith group having links with Reds and six of the cup holders’ squad having played for the Blues in the past. There were Penrith lads playing for Workington and vice-versa.
Perhaps the familiarity took the edge off a contest that promised much but failed to produce the classic we all craved but, considering both teams’ demanding end of season schedule, it was no great surprise.
Such a pity that neither side had the energy to perform to a higher standard on the magnificent, snooker table-like playing surface.
The Northern League side certainly shaded the first half against a Workington line-up that saw five regulars named on the bench and five more not even on the team sheet.
And that was after a second minute scare for Matty Moynan who appeared to twist his knee but, thankfully, was able to continue after lengthy treatment.
Ric Faustino blasted the game’s first opportunity over the bar after Martyn Coleman’s assist and the Frenchfield boys came even closer in their next attack of note. Coleman’s shot on the turn was blocked but Kevin Connelly netted the rebound at the Warwick Road end, only for an assistant’s flag to cut short the celebrations.
But the prolific Coleman had the final say of the first half, scoring from a free-kick of his own making. He weaved his way across the eighteen yard line and was eventually dumped by a frustrated Workington defender. His forty-first minute strike took a slight deflection as it flew past Tom Fowler.
Workington’s only response, following decent approach play, saw Nathan Waterston send a shot high over Jonny Jamieson’s bar.
Reds introduced two of their ‘big guns’ at the start of the second half in Jake Simpson and Symington with the tempo of the game improving noticeably. Both had attempts at goal from distance but Jamieson watched both sail into the night sky.
A third substitution saw the introduction of Scott Allison and his presence improved the outlook from a west Cumbrian perspective. And it was he who levelled matters after seventy-six minutes with Reds’ first effort on target. Symington sent over a teasing cross from the left and Allison rose to head over Jamieson to restore parity.
It prompted the most open period of the game with chances coming thick and fast – or at least more regularly than the previous seventy five minutes!
Coleman’s square pass to Matthew Read set-up a great chance but the latter blasted the ball over the bar instead of achieving a bit of personal glory. Then Ben Jackson headed against the Workington cross bar after Connelly’s free-kick caused all sorts of panic in Fowler’s goal mouth.
Coleman then drove the ball across the box but Simpson cleverly ushered Connelly off the ball at the far post.
At the other end, Conor Tinnion saw one goal bound shot charged down and his follow-up chip was easily caught by former team mate, Jamieson.
It stood at 1-1 after ninety minutes and extra-time beckoned.
Jamieson kept his side in contention as Reds dominated for the first time, saving a swerving Symington effort from fully thirty yards. Rob Wilson also went close soon after, sending a low effort just a yard wide of Jamieson’s left hand upright. And when Allison weaved his way into the Penrith area Jamieson stretched out a big hand to divert the ball to safety.
The second period of the additional half hour wasn’t quite as exciting and Sam Joel’s wayward finish suggested the dreaded penalty shoot-out was imminent.
But former Penrith player, Allison, had other ideas. He cut through the heart of the Blues’ defence before slipping the ball to Symington who drove the ball across Jamieson and into the far corner of the net for the dramatic 118th minute winner.
There was still time for a corner at the other end and the yellow shirted Jamieson ventured forward into opposition territory. He actually met Connelly’s corner but the ‘keeper’s header cleared the bar.
Workington’s supporters greeted the final whistle with a collective sigh of relief after being taken the distance by Jim Nichols’ side.
Opposite number, David Hewson, said, “It was nice to end the season with a trophy and that heals some of the hurt we experienced at Stourbridge.”
“Full credit to Penrith, though, who pushed us all the way.”
Veteran defender Kyle May on his 544th, and possibly, final appearance for Reds lifted the famous trophy for Reds as they retained the title for the first time in eighty years.
Penrith Jamieson, Faustino, Lawson, Davidson, Bowman, Jackson (Murray, 106), Moynan (Street, 70), Read (Veitch, 98), Coleman, Connelly, Murray-Jones. Substitutes – Gardner, Newton (not used).
Workington Fowler, Douglas, Cham, May, Henderson (Simpson, 46), Wright, Hebson (Symington, 46), Wilson, Waterston (Allison, 60), Joel, Tinnion. Substitutes – Ryan, Calvert (not used).
Referee Adam Pattison
Bookings: Lawson, Bowman and Murray (Penrith), May (Workington)