Critics answered as the goals finally flow

ONLY the night before, at the club's fans' forum, supporters had criticised the Worksop team for their lack of goals so far in 2003-2004.

So it was with perfect timing that Steve Ludlam's men found some answers to the questions that had been directed at them with an emphatic home victory.

Despite having 3-0 home wins over Frickley Athletic and Ashton United to their name this season, the Tigers have not always been at their most comfortable at Sandy Lane.

But on this occasion they were – and the key to that was an early goal.

Another reason for the three-goal margin was some clinical finishing that has, as has been widely acknowledged, often been missing.

New signing Chris Beardsley was not one of those on the scoresheet but suggested in his 80-minute stay on the pitch that he will be a danger in games to come.

Instead, the goals were shared by Gary Townsend, Alex Callery – who collected his third from four starts – and the imposing Paul Sykes.

The big, former Harrogate man was playing in only his second game in midfield after switching to allow Joe Taylor to slot in at centre back.

But he put in an all-action performance that, even his goals aside, made him a strong contender for any man of the match awards going.

And with the defence once again on top, it could have been five clean sheets in a row but for a wonder strike by Josh Mitten.

The Tigers set the tone for what was to come when they swept into attack from the kick-off and only a good block prevented Beardsley a dream start after just 25 seconds following Matty Caudwell's cross.

Radcliffe hit back in the 12th minute when Mitten beat the offside trap but blazed wide from a tight angle from Gary Sampson's pass.

Caudwell then tried his luck in the 16th minute but his shot was deflected wide before Worksop drew first blood three minutes later.

A corner from Caudwell beat keeper Danny Hurst only to be cleared off the line. But the danger had not passed as Steve Hawes helped the ball back into the box and Townsend headed home at the far post from close range.

The advantage was doubled in the 28th minute when Hawes burst away down the right and his centre – this time a low one – was flicked into the far corner at the near post by the alert Callery.

It could have been all but over a minute later when Townsend went down under a challenge from Sampson in the box after a neat turn – but the referee chose not to award a spot kick.

Just after the half hour Townsend put his disappointment behind him to get off a powerful shot on the spin that Hurst did well to block with his legs.

As Borough tried to fight back Danny Hooper's shot from distance took a deflection but Dave McCarthy held it at the second attempt as attackers closed in.

On the stroke of half-time Worksop went close again as Townsend turned his marker on the edge of the box and hit a terrific shot that was parried by Hurst, diving full length to his left.

In the second period Steve Foster's curling effort was gathered by McCarthy as Radcliffe pushed on in search of a way back into the game.

But their hopes were dealt a severe blow with a Worksop third. The Tigers, through Caudwell broke at pace through the middle and the diminutive winger picked out Sykes perfectly, who crashed the ball home first-time from the edge of the box with his left foot.

Worksop almost had a fourth when Townsend's effort was ruled offside after intricate work between Beardsley and Hawes.

But it was 4-0 in the 85th minute when Sykes calmly rolled home a penalty after Caudwell was brought down by Hurst as he raced onto Kevin Davies' through pass.

That seemed likely to be the last goal of the game only for Mitten to thrash an unstoppable 30-yard drive into the top corner to ruin McCarthy's run of clean sheets.

True, this one game doesn't make a season, but it could give the players the confidence to put together a table-climbing winning run.