MATCH PREVIEW – Workington (H)

Avenue return to Northern Premier League action this weekend, hosting Workington this Saturday 23rd September, at the Horsfall Community Stadium, Kick Off 3pm, and gates open at 1:30pm!

Adults will pay just £13 entry, Concessions are in at £10, Students with a valid ID pay just £5, Youth (12-17) is just £3, and u12s go completely free!

Card and Cash are taken at the Cemetery Road end, and the Park Road end is cash only.

Workington come into the game following a 3-1 defeat to National League North side Darlington last Friday in the 2RQ of the FA Cup.

The Reds have been a high-scoring team so far this season, their biggest League win so far was a 5-0 thrashing of Ashton United on the opening day of the NPL. Their biggest defeat came the following week, with Ilkeston Town netting 6 goals to Workington’s 1.

Avenue come into the game after FA Cup action, visiting Blyth Spartans on Saturday 16th and taking a 1-1 draw to force a replay at the Horsfall. 

The replay ended 1-1 at Full Time, but Avenue couldn’t hold out through Extra Time, and two quick goals from Jonathan Hooper (110’) and Cedric Main (118’) saw the Spartans progress in the FA Cup. 

Injury plagued the Avenue squad on that Saturday though, with Bower losing Jak Whiting in the 14th minute, and later Jamie Spencer in the 60th minute. 

Speaking to the Telegraph & Argus, Mark Bower said;

“Jamie looks like he’s going to be out for a few months having damaged his knee.

“We’re waiting on his results to work out a plan of action but he’s probably going to need surgery, so I don’t expect to see him back this side of Christmas.

“We’ll be looking to strengthen in midfield because of that, as Spenner was our most experienced player in there, and it looks very young without him.

“Harry, Harrison Hopper and Will Lancaster have done a good job in there, but we need someone now with a bit of knowhow and that streetwise edge.

“That’s especially important with us getting into autumn and the weather turning, so hopefully we can bring someone in this week.”

Bower is hopeful of welcoming back the likes of Mason O’Malley, Myles La Bastide and Jak Whiting from injury tomorrow too, as well as Hopper from suspension.

And he said: “After our first two games of the season, we’ve only lost one of our last eight games inside 90 minutes.

“We’ve been away a lot so it’s nice to be at home on Saturday.

“We can try and continue the good form we’ve had at Horsfall and start building some momentum in the league, as we’ve only had one game in the division in the last three weeks.

“We’ve got a little run of Saturday and Tuesday league games coming up, so there are plenty of opportunities to pick up the points on offer, getting the points we should have had in previous games.”

Before that trip to Ashton United next Tuesday comes the home clash with Workington, the cornerstone of Avenue’s annual beer festival at Horsfall, which also sees the teens in FA Youth Cup action tonight, and an Avenue XI take on a Bantams XI on Sunday, with free admission for the latter.

Bower said: “I hope the weather holds for it, and it’ll make the event and the Sunday even better if the academy and seniors both win.

“It’s good to have the facility at Horsfall now that allows us to do that, as a few years ago, with the weather we’ve had over the last few days, it’d have probably been called off.”

The clash with Workington is Bower’s main focus at the weekend, and he said: “They’re a good team who are confident in possession.

“They play in good areas where others wouldn’t take those risks and like to build from the back like us.

“They’ve conceded a lot this season but scored plenty too.

“We’re good at home though, and it could be a high-scoring game, even though I’d take a scrappy 1-0 win to get us going.”

Confidence should come from the FA Cup game with Blyth and the subsequent replay defeat in extra-time though, and Bower said:

“The lads will be gutted and disappointed, and we did feel a bit hard done by with some of the decisions against us.

“But we’ll take the positives, as it helped players get stronger and fitter, and really looking like assets to us.