Workington Manager Chris Willcock was a disappointed man at the end of a contest that saw his table-topping side drop home points for the first time this season. His dejection can be understood as the Reds dominated most of the game.
True, if the contest had been scored on boxing lines, then Workington would have recorded victory by a huge margin. But football is different and Leek’s resilient defending deserved some reward. That was gained when Will Saxon cancelled out Paul Marshall’s opener.
It was very much even stevens for much of the opening thirty minutes and it took an extremely well-timed tackle from Paul Smith to deny Saxon an early opportunity. But the home side gradually turned the screw and pushed a below par Blues into defensive survival mode.
The defence held firm until the half-hour mark when Scott Wara was forced to concede a corner. An excellent flag-kick was sent in by Brad Hubbold and, despite a good save by Danny Roberts from the initial powerful header, the keeper could only parry the ball into the path of former Port Vale striker Marshall who finished from close-range.
The goal sparked an upturn in pressure from the home side and they almost doubled the score when Brad Carroll thumped a header against the post from another set-piece before Roberts was forced into a flurry of saves.
Leek rallied to defend their keeper and did well to keep the deficit to a single goal at the break when it was hoped that Neil Baker could wave his managerial wand.
The change of formation that allowed the introduction of Rob Stevenson seemed to provoke an improvement as the visitors started the second half on the front foot.
Unfortunately for the visiting support, the upturn was only temporary and with little creative coming from the Blues’ midfield, it appeared that a narrow defeat was the limit of Leek’s ambitions as the defence continued to perform heroics to deny clear-cut chances to the home side.
So, it was a real shock to Workington when Leek equalised seventeen minutes from time. The Blues had a short period of good possession before the ball was fed to Saxon. The Leek number eleven has often fluffed his lines in front of goal this season but this time he came up trumps with an effort from the right that went across the face of Jim Atkinson’s goal to nestle in the far corner.
A nail-biting closing period that included an extended amount of added time was safely negotiated despite the fact that the atmosphere became more hostile both on and off the pitch. A point had been earned by the Blues against the run of play against a team surely destined for a top position. Just a pity that the result wasn’t accepted in better grace.
Following the match Leek Manager Baker spoke exclusively to Moorlands Radio and said:
”I am very pleased with the point. I asked the team at half-time if they could play any worse in the second half. I thought we had been poor. We are fitting people into unfamiliar positions. I don’t like to make excuses. I’m playing with a team of unfit players and my bench is full of crocks. It’s not their fault but I look round and can’t see what I can do to change what is happening on the pitch. What I can say for them is that they showed great character again. The good thing is we kept going. Will doesn’t always succeed but he is game and he earned us a point. The team showed that they can get us a draw from a losing position after being second best for much of the game. We played bits and pieces but the goal was a super move – probably the best of our game. You have to have the courage to keep going – which we did today”