[S]ometimes there is a Cumberland County Cup game that is just too good a prospect to miss, and this clash between Whitestar and Workington Reds at Frizington was one of those.
Cup holders Workington, having a torrid time in the Evo Stick Northern Premier League, reached the Third Round of the Cup in the final match of the last round, and needed a last minute winner to edge past Aspatria 2-1.
Whitestar moved into the Third Round of the Cup with a 2-0 win over fellow Cumberland County League Division One hopefuls Gosforth. Whilst Whitestar are having a run of good form in their League, The Reds last league match ended with their heaviest defeat of the season, a 4-1 drubbing by Spennymoor and a red card for David Symington, and having lost to Stafford Rangers the week before, The Reds are languishing in 17th spot in the League, and last weekend they were knocked out of the FA Trophy in a close 4-3 defeat by Whitby Town.
But despite their recent form, the Reds’ senior league status made them clear favourites for this game – even with a very unfamiliar pitch and setting (their last visit to Bishop’s Park was in 2001!). And Whitestar’s form in other knock out tournaments hasn’t been so exciting. They lost to Aspatria 3-5 in the second round of the Ken Glover Memorial Shield – admittedly only after extra time, and were defeated 8-3 by Mirehouse in the second round of the GMB Whitehaven Cup.
So an appetising tie! Workington’s returning midfielder Anthony Wright said before that match that “It will be like a final to them, and we have to make sure we are on top form” adding he expected the Frizington game to be a tough game, and that the Reds would expect that. Frizington’s coach Barry Armfield told told Cumbria Crack “We have a great set lads here who are all willing to work hard for each other, we have a great mix of youth and experience” and manager David Hutchinson added “if we keep our concentration and take our chances, anything can happen!”
Over 100 Reds fans made the trip down the A5086 to Frizington on a cold afternoon, to join a very vocal local crowd, and this was an exciting and hard fought match. Whilst the Reds were clearly technically more gifted and and have some talented players, Whitestar showed how a well organised, determined and committed team can be be at the heart of an effective game plan. The pitch was heavy, and there was a strong wind that increased in strength throughout the match, meaning high balls were unpredictable, but the game started at some pace, and Whitestar soon found their momentum – with Stefan Scott (an ex-Red) particularly troublesome for the Red’s defence.
The end to end play continued for the first half hour, with attacks from both sides and Scott forced two good saves from Workington’s keeper Tom Fowler, who had an outstanding game including a marvellous one handed dive when he tipped the ball over the bar. But then came the decisive goal on 32 minutes, when Robbie Hebson passed to Anthony Wright on the edge of the penalty box, and Wright cut inside and sent a powerful shot past Whitestar’s man-of-the-match Dean Armstrong who until then had been outstanding in goal – with the ball firmly ending up lodged in the right hand corner of the net.
The goal was a blow for the home side, but they soon bounced back and continued to fight for every ball, and chased down every attack, and went for every chance, with skipper Jayke Cattanach and Craig Williamson outstanding for the home side. But at half time in was Whitestar 0, Workington 1.
In the second half Workington came out with new determination, and Hebson made a number of surging runs on the right wing, and had a useful strike at goal which forced an excellent fingertip save from Armstrong.
Nathan Waterston also had a much better second half as he came into the game after a quiet start, and was effectively fed with good balls from Hebson on the left and Lewis Jolly on the right wing, and he came close a couple of times, narrowly missing out on 75 minutes when Armstrong turned his shot past the post.
After a goal mouth scramble, Armstrong pulled off another great save when he dived across his box to the right, just managing to push the ball round the post. As time began to run out, Whitestar kept moving the ball up into the Reds half, and in the last 10 minutes the home side looked like pushing the game into extra time as they laid siege to the Reds’ penalty box. But on 90 minutes it was all over, and a classic Cup tie ended with a win for the Reds.
This was an even and hard fought battle, and Whitestar did themselves proud; they were focussed and committed, and every man battled for 90 minutes: The home side never gave up, and can walk away with their heads held high. But its Workington who go into the Cumberland County Senior Cup Quarter Finals.
In the other Cumberland Cup matches played on Saturday, Smurfit Kappa Cumberland League Premier Division side Wigton Harriers lost 2-3 to the Westmorland League First Division’s Pirelli, Cumberland League Premier Division’s Silloth beat Division One’s Borough 5-1 away, and in the all Cumberland Premier Division clash, Netherhall had an impressive 6-0 win over their cup bogey side Mirehouse. In the midweek matches, Northern League Division One Penrith AFC beat Northbank from the Northern Alliance 5-0, and TWR Wearside League’s Cleator Moor Celtic triumphed over the Cumberland Premier Division’s Cockermouth 4-1.
In the final two matches, Whitehaven AFC meet Wetheriggs United and Carlisle City meet Greystoke, both on Tuesday 8th November, and both have evening kick offs (19.30).
Frizington Whitestar: Dean Armstrong, George Close, Richard Watson, David Williams, Jayke Cattanach (C), Craig Williamson, Ben Graham, Stefan Scott, Aaron Rossi, Kurt Scott, Jordan Lee. Substitutes: Greg Rooney, Curtis Rossi , Aaron King, Owen Adair.
Workington Reds: Tom Fowler, Jamie Bethwaite, Gari Rowntree (C), Calum Henderson, Matt Douglas, Anthony Wright (Josh Calvert, 46), Robbie Hebson, Connor Tinnion (David Symington, 58), Jack Ryan, Nathan Waterston, Lewis Jolly (Elliott Newby, 62). Substitutes (not used) Scott Allison, Jake Simpson.
Referee : Alan Charters. Assistant Referees: Dean Scholey and Steve Rule
Cumbria Crack Man of the Match: Dean Armstrong (Whitestar)