Forced into the one change, as George Hornshaw served a one match ban for his (dubious) second yellow sending off last weekend, Nat Wallace was handed the opportunity to stake a claim for a regular start at right wing back. Regular U21 central defender Rueben Brewin-Hawkins was drafted into the matchday sixteen, as the tight knit squad looked to earn their first points on the road.
Gainsborough were quickly out of the traps, taking the game to the hosts, with Nat Wallace looking a threat down the right hand side with some mazy runs and trickery from right wing back. The front three's pressure wasn't giving the Workington rearguard much time on the ball & they were nearly punished when a raking Dylan Cogill ball found, Dayle Southwell, playing on the shoulder. The Trinity number nine looked to profit from retiring Dan Wordsworth's momentary lapse, but as Southwell pulled the trigger, Wordsworth had recovered well enough to apply enough pressure to make Southwell's effort comfortable for Jim Atkinson in the home goal.
Wallace skipped over halfway as Trinity looked exciting on the turnover, a good advantage was played by the referee as the flying full back was felled upon releasing to Howe, running the channel. Getting to the byline the forward looked for the late surge from Javelle Clarke making up the ground in the centre - but he was millimetres from making the telling connection, with the goal at his mercy.
Niall Brookwell was ponderous on the ball, and dispossessed by the infectious Clarke, he drove forward - letting fly from twenty yards - only to see his effort helped over the bar by the flailing hand of Atkinson, to keep the score level. When Nat Wallace was fouled on the edge of the Workington box, Lewis Butroid stepped up to beat the wall, but his effort was straight at Atkinson.
Connor Tinion fashioned a shooting opportunity as he played off centre forward Steve Rigg, who acted like a wall for the long serving midfielder to link with. Tinion's poked effort half a yard wide of Luke Jackson's left hand upright.
Ashley Jackson's long ball forward found Howe, who occupied his marker well. Keeping the ball under his spell, he burrowed his way towards the box, exchanging a neat one-two with strike partner Southwell. His fierce effort striking the woodwork with Atkinson beaten. As the crossbar continued to shudder, Southwell's follow up volley sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Bar Tinion"s effort in the opening half an hour, it was all one way traffic as the visitors asked questions of the home side, but Rigg had Workington in front on 33, a momentary lapse in concentration saw the forward nip in ahead of skipper Dylan Cogill to stab past Jackson & give the Reds the lead. Kofi Moore providing the chance for the big number nine.
There were a nervy couple of moments as the Blues dug in, getting men back behind the ball and ensuring one didn't become two.- and Bobby Johnson went close to equalising when defence was turned to attack in the blink of an eye. Defending a corner at one end, Wallace broke clear, feeding Howe out wide, as he cut in from the right, he teed up Johnson on the cusp of the 'D' where the Bawtry based baller placed a side-footed effort half a yard too high.
The goal gave Workington encouragement, but Trinity stayed in the game & got the very least they deserved, Javelle Clarke rewarded for his endeavours. Workington looking to play out from the back were swarmed by Wilcox's charges, Howe robbing Brookwell of the ball & finding Clarke who gleefully slotted home from the edge of the box. A great time to score, in first half stoppage time. And the 495 minute wait for an away league goal was over!
Half Time: Workington AFC 1 Gainsborough Trinity 1
Trinity survived a scare just after the interval when Tinion had the ball in the net. Playing off the shoulder, he got on the end of Moore's cushioned header forward, but the eagle-eyed Assistant Referee flagged for offside to curtail the home sides' celebrations.
Like London buses, you wait forever for one to arrive- and then virtually straight away another one comes along. Dec Howe providing a goal of real quality just eleven minutes into the second half. Combining with strike partner, Dayle Southwell, Howe cut in from the left & bent an unstoppable effort into the top right-hand corner, giving Jim Atkinson no chance in the Workington goal!
Trinity only held the lead for two minutes though, Workington capitalising as the visitors switched off. Nat Wallace was down injured, Gainsborough attention turned to their wounded warrior while Workington quickly restarted & Kitt Nelson took full advantage to equalise. Despite the protestations of the team - the goal stood - and the Blues would need to dig deep and pull out all the stops to secure all three points...
With just under twenty minutes to play, Wilcox rolled the dice, introducing Harrison Poulter & Jack Moore-Billam in place of experienced duo Dayle Southwell & Bobby Johnson. And almost immediately, Poulter was involved as he raced onto the ball down the right, checking back inside, he drew the challenge & was sent tumbling - after a moments consideration, the Referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Howe, to grab his second of the game, giving Atkinson no chance from twelve yards.
The Holy Blues had three goals on the road - and they were going to defend that lead, like their lives depended on it! Injury to wing back Lewis Butroid meant a defensive reshuffle, and youngster Brewin-Hawkins would come off the bench to make his competitive debut for the Blue Army. A proud moment in the Brewin-Hawkins household, as he was part of a defensive rearguard action that repelled everything Workington had to throw, to secure a valuable victory on the road.
A victory that psychologically was worth more than just the three points that go down in the record books. That victory giving newfound confidence and belief, as the Holy Blues move up to 15th in the table, just five points off the play-off spots!
Jim Atkinson, Greg McCaragher, Gabriel Rios Newton () Dan Wordsworth () Nial Brookwell, Brad Hubbold, Kofi Moore, Kitt Nelson () Steven Rigg, Scott Allison, Connor Tinion
Subs not used: Connor Hammell & Keelan Leslie
Workington goals: Steven Rigg 33, Kitt Nelson 58
Luke Jackson, Nat Wallace, Ashley Jackson, Bailey Conway, Hamish Douglas, Dylan Cogill, Lewis Butroid (Rueben Brewin-Hawkins 87) Bobby Johnson (Jack Moore-Billam 72) Dayle Southwell (Harrison Poulter 72) Declan Howe, Javelle Clarke
Subs not used: Joel Holvey & Harry Lovick
Gainsborough goals: Javelle Clarke 45, Declan Howe 56 & 75 (p)
Report by Rob Hughes (@AATM_Media)
Photos by David Bury