Blyth Spartans had to settle for a share of the spoils in Cumbria after a competitive New Years Day encounter at Borough Park.
The draw makes it 10 games unbeaten for Mick Tait’s side and leaves the Croft Park club seventh in the Blue Square Bet North.
In their first meaningful attack Blyth won a corner through the persistence of John Alexander. Stephen Turnbull delivered an inviting ball in to the area which was duly met by the head of Michael Tait who made no mistake from eight yards. It was a dream start for the visitors and left the home side shell shocked after just two minutes of play.
Workington looked to get back on level terms immediately but Blyth won the majority of 50/50 balls in the middle of the park and didn’t allow the hosts to gain any momentum.
When the Reds resorted to long ball tactics Chris Swailes and Wayne Buchanan dealt with the aerial bombardment with composure and assurance.
Mark Gillespie in the Spartans goal was called in to action on the half hour mark when he made a crucial save with his feet from Workington winger Anthony Wright.
The travelling contingent from Blyth found their own ways of keeping warm on a bitterly cold afternoon, by jumping up and down in unison to provide an atmosphere you’d associate more with the San Siro than Borough Park.
Mick Tait would have been pleased with the way his side kept possession on a difficult surface even though chances for either team were few and far between.
Stephen Turnbull had two long range efforts which failed to trouble Aaran Taylor in the Workington goal.
Phil McLuckie was then fortunate to find himself with time and space in the Spartans area but his lofted shot sailed over the crossbar before the referee brought an end to a satisfying half for the away side.
Workington began the 2nd half in lively fashion as they went in search of an equaliser, which they found in the 56th minute. A corner was volleyed home by Anthony Wright at the back post and an inquest in to who was supposed to be marking him took place amongst the Blyth players.
The visitors didn’t allow their heads drop and were defiant and combative, particularly in midfield when things threatened to boil over on more than one occasion. Michael Tait was booked for a challenge and Stephen Turnbull was involved in a heated exchange where the Blyth player was seemingly caught with a punch which went unnoticed by the officials.
Paul Brayson made his comeback from injury when he replaced John Alexander in the 79th minute but even Spartans’ top scorer couldn’t find a winner for his side.
Gillespie made a couple of good saves late on to ensure Blyth took a point away from a game neither side deserved to win.
Blyth manager Mick Tait was pleased with his side’s resilience and character in maintaining their unbeaten run after a lengthy break from action: “I wasn’t sure how we would react and although we didn’t play to the standards we can, the attitude of the players was very good. The early goal gave us something to build on and I suppose it was a little disappointing we couldn’t do that but sometimes you naturally try and defend what you’ve got.”
Tait believes it was a point gained opposed to two lost, although he had to remind his players of this after the final whistle: “They were all sitting in the dressing room with their heads down and I asked them if they really thought we’d deserved to win it because I didn’t think we’d done enough. We have to be realistic and say it was a fair result in the end. It shows how much the players want to win when they’re that disappointed after a draw away from home.”
Workington: Taylor, Smyth, Langford, May, Andrews, Vipond, Main (Blake), Hewson (Murray-Jones), Arnison, McLuckie, Wright (Tinnion).
Blyth Spartans: Gillespie, Groves, Cave, Tait, Swailes, Buchanan, Hooks, Turnbull, Alexander (Brayson), Deverdics, Dale.
Referee: Mr A Young.