Andrew’s Match Preview
Workington v Colne
Saturday 22nd April - 15:00
Colne travel 111 miles north to face Cumbrian outfit Workington in their final league fixture in the NPL West.
Workington, also nicknamed the Reds, were founded in 1921 and their home ground is Borough Park. Their average attendance this season is 729, the second highest in the league; boosted by a 1670 gate against leaders Macclesfield in February. Last season Workington finished 2nd in the league with 84 points, but were beaten in the play-off semi-final 2-3 by Marine. In the head to head with Colne last term, Workington won both games with a 3-0 win at Holt House in November, thanks to goals from Tinnion (2) and Symington, and 2-0 in the home fixture, with Symington getting on the goal sheet once more and Carroll getting the 2nd. Less than four weeks ago the two sides met at Holt House in the reverse fixture, which the Cumbrian Reds won 3-2. Goals from Allison, Jerome and Tinnion from the spot secured the victory, before Diakite and Kardacz scored consolation goals for the home side.
This season Workington have 72 points from 37 games, winning 22, drawing 6, and losing 9, and they currently sit in 3rd place. At home this season they have beaten Trafford 2-1, Skelmersdale United 2-1, Runcorn Linnets 2-1, Widnes 2-1, 1874 Northwich 2-1, Kidsgrove Athletic 3-0, Newcastle Town 3-0, Hanley Town 3-0, Glossop North End 3-0 and Witton Albion 5-0.
In the FA Cup, Workington won 7-0 away at West Allotment Celtic in the preliminary round before being knocked out 2-3 away at South Shields. They lost at the first stage of the FA Trophy, losing 1-2 at home to Runcorn Linnets. The Cumbrian Reds won their last home game a week last Saturday, hammering Witton Albion 5-0 with a goal from Kai Nugent and 4 from Dav Symington. Last Saturday they were beaten 3-4 at 1874 Northwich, where a goal from Reuben Jerome and 2 from Scott Allison weren’t enough to gain any points.
Workington players to watch - 35 year old attacker Scott Allison is the in-form scorer in the league, netting 13 goals in his last 16 games. The veteran missed much of last season through injury, but has 16 goals to his credit this term. He is in his 11th season with the club.
29 year old Dav Symington began his career at Carlisle United representing them 68 times in the EFL. The midfielder/winger is one of the best players in the division and he joined Workington 7 years ago from Barrow. David has scored 18 times this season in all competitions.
Reuben Jerome is in his third season at Borough Park after joining from Ramsbottom United. The attacking player has also had spells at Brighouse Town and Warrington Town and has contributed 14 goals so far this campaign.
Centre-half Dan Wordsworth is in his 11th season with the club. Dan has made 38 appearances for the Reds this season and around 300 since he joined. He originally signed from Kendal Town after earlier being on the books at Carlisle United.
32 year old skipper Conor Tinnion operates anywhere in the middle of the park. Another product of Carlisle United, Conor is in his 13th season with the club with almost 400 appearances all told and 34 this term.
Another forward Steven Rigg is in his 2nd spell at the club. Steven has experience in the EFL with Carlisle United and has several clubs on his CV including Queen of the South, Barrow, Chorley, Gateshead and Dover Athletic. The 30 year old has 7 goals in 36 involvements this season.
Lewis Reilly joined in the summer from Marine after previous spells with Chorley and gaining EFL experience at Crewe Alexandra. The 23 year old striker has scored 9 times so far this season:.
Goalkeeper for the NPL West team of the year for 21/22, Jim Atkinson is the Cumbrian Reds number 1. Previously with Queen of the South and Gretna, the 28 year old once scored a goal and saved a penalty in the same game.
Workington are managed by Carlisle United legend Danny Grainger, who replaced Chris Wilcock last May. Danny was previously the Workington boss from 2019-2021, but left to become assistant manager at Falkirk. He returned to Borough Park last May.
Last time out for the Reds - Colne entertained 3rd placed Leek Town at Holt House in their final home game of the NPL West 22/23 season. Paul Weller named 3 changes to the side who lost 1-4 at Clitheroe 5 days earlier. Ellis Wallbank came into the centre of defence in place of Finley Devenney, Tom McCann replaced the injured Harry Winstanley at left-back and Malik Diakite deputised for Matty Kardacz who was ill. Town kicked downhill first half and dominated from the off. And it only took them 7 minutes to create the first goal. A trademark high free-kick from the left by Louis Keenan found Oliver Harrison, who out muscled and out jumped Jacob Bridges and headed home from 4 yards. Hakan Burton had to be alert for the rest of the half as the away side maintained their pressure and created plenty of chances. Bridges had to leave the field due to a hip injury with 20 minutes of the half remaining and centre-forward Owen Watkinson moved back to cover in defence, with Luke Stowe entering the fray in a more attacking role. The Reds defended stoutly for the remainder of the half and did well to only go in one goal down. There was an air of optimism from the Red Army as the second 45 began with Colne kicking downhill, but the lack of a central focus up front and the dominance of the Leek defence cancelled out any hope of an equaliser. In fact it was the visitors who had the chance to double their advantage when Aaron Opoku spectacularly threw himself to the ground under a challenge from Eddie Elewa-Ikpakwu. Unfortunately for the Reds, the referee bought it and awarded a penalty. Colne’s number 1 Hakan Burton read it correctly and threw himself to his left producing a great stop and ensured justice. Without a centre-forward on the pitch for the Reds, their attack lacked any kind of threat, so surely Watkinson would be moved back up front or Cuan Bradley would finally get his chance to lead the line. Neither of those plays materialised, and with 10 minutes remaining Weaver and Elewa-Ikpakwu gave way, to be replaced by fringe midfielders Sheikh Islam and Rory Cormack. Malik Diakite provided Colne’s best chance of the game late on, but his shot was well saved by Daniel Roberts in the Leek goal. Watkinson finally pushed back up front for injury time, but to no avail, and the Reds suffered their 9th home loss of the season leaving them in 18th place with 37 points from 37 games. Owen Watkinson played well as a cameo defender and obviously Hakan Burton was his usual dependable presence, but Ellis Wallbank held the defence together and put in a mature performance at centre-half, which entitled him to man of the match.
Who’s on Ashh’s couch? - Ben Anderson will miss out once again with a niggling groin strain which hasn’t settled down and he’ll miss out once again.
Harry Winstanley limped off at Clitheroe and he has a grade 2 hamstring injury, which means he’s played his last game this season.
Jacob Bridges had to come off in the first half last Saturday and he has a hip flexor issue which has ruled him out.
Jack Doherty is recovering from surgery on his ACL injury and will begin his rehabilitation when ready, under the watchful eye of Accrington Stanley. This injury has ruled him out for the season.
Team news - Matty Kardacz should be fit enough to return after a bout of flu, and Finley Devenney will return to the defence after missing out due to work commitments. Ellis Wallbank was impressive against Leek and he should keep his place at the heart of the back 4. Owen Watkinson is suspended after his red card at Clitheroe, but his direct replacement Cuan Bradley has seen only 4 minutes of action since the managerial change, so it’s likely Kyobe, Weaver and Diakite will make up the attack. Paul Weller should have a squad of 16 players to choose from.
Workington qualified for the play-offs with ease and they have won their last 3 home games to an aggregate of 11-0, culminating in a 5-0 thumping of play-off chasers Witton Albion, 2 weeks ago. They have only conceded 14 goals at home all season, which gives them the best home defence in the division. Surrendering 2nd place to Leek Town last week means they need to win to give themselves any chance of regaining the runners up spot and claiming home advantage in the semi-final and final of the play-offs.
Colne have lost their last 3 games and their NPL West status is hanging by a thread. Last Saturday’s home loss to Leek Town means that they cannot climb out of the bottom 3 any longer and they need to match Glossop North End’s result away at Bootle to force a play-off with a step 5 runner up side. Only 4 weeks ago Colne were flattered by a 2-3 scoreline against Workington at Holt House and they’ll need to be at their very best, and hope the home side have an off day, to return with a positive result. In his post match interviews Paul Weller continually highlights the lack of threat in the final third, but he’s yet to work out a solution to that issue. The defence played well last week, so Weller will have to decide whether to soak up the home side’s pressure and try to hit them on the counter or go all out for the win, and gamble that they don’t get caught out themselves. It would be probably wise to see a tempered first half and hope that a positive half-time result for Leek Town diminishes Workington’s desire to go all out to win it. Play the game not the occasion young Reds.
Admission Prices are:
Adults - £11
Concessions - £6
Under 18’s - £3
Under 11’s - £1
Today’s other NPL West games - 15:00
Bootle v Glossop North End
Clitheroe v Kidsgrove Athletic
Leek Town v Skelmersdale United
Mossley v Macclesfield
Prescot Cables v Hanley Town
Ramsbottom v Newcastle Town
Trafford v Runcorn Linnets
Widnes v 1874 Northwich
Witton Albion v City of Liverpool