In the end, events off the field over-shadowed what was a hard-earned point for the Cumbrians after they had gone behind in the fifth minute.

Gavin Skelton’s resignation after the final whistle stunned the players, directors and fans, taking the gloss off what had been a battling display.

Skelton, who had travelled down by car and not on the team coach, had sent assistant Lee Andrews to do the post-match interview while he handed his letter to chairman John Mackay.

He was appointed on New Year’s Eve after Reds agreed compensation with Carlisle United, and was in charge for the first time on January 1 when Reds lost 2-1 at home to Stalybridge Celtic.

Confirmation that Reds were again looking for a new manager came when the directors returned to the team coach for the journey home.

The point would have been gleefully pocketed on any other day but, with the manager resigning, and all their main relegation rivals winning, it was a gloomy return journey, with the additional concern that leading scorer Scott Allison had been left behind in a Stafford hospital with a serious arm injury.

In actual fact, the point didn’t do much to help Stafford who are now in the third relegation place, but eight points ahead of the Reds, who have three games in hand.

Rangers had got off to the best possible start with the opening goal on five minutes. A corner had been headed goalwards by big defender Daniel Burns and Aaran Taylor did well under pressure to punch clear.

The ball was returned to the area where Theo Bailey-Jones scored with a spectacular overhead kick, which nine times out of 10 would have ended high, wide and not so handsome.

It had been a fast, positive start by the hosts but gradually Reds got themselves into the game and they had a good chance to level midway through the half.

Conor Tinnion seized on a poor back pass from Tom Thorley and was through, taking his shot early. But keeper Adam Siviter did really well, coming out quickly and sticking out an arm to make the block.

Stafford opened the second-half strongly as well and twice there had to be important defensive tackles from Dan Wordsworth and Josh Calvert.

The flow of the game changed on 59 minutes after Scott Allison fell awkwardly and damaged his arm / shoulder.

While he was still on the ground there was an incident on the other side of the pitch involving Brad Carroll and Joe Cuff.

After consulting his assistant referee, Andy Ellis produced a straight red card for Cuff, leaving Reds with over half-an-hour to salvage something against 10 men.

From the edge of the area Tinnion hit a low free-kick past the wall and Siviter did well to get across and smother.

Then good work in the box by Jason Walker teed up Tinnion but he was cramped for room and his close-range shot lacked power and was easily held by Siviter.

The equaliser eventually came on 83 minutes. Good work down the left between the two substitutes Kieran Maguire and Brad Hubbold had forced a corner. Although that was initially cleared the ball was returned to the box where Gari Rowntree tried a shot.

The ball took a deflection into the path of Wordsworth, who had stayed up from the corner, and he drove the ball past Siviter from close range.

There was a certain amount of disappointment that Reds couldn’t force a winner against ten men – but that seemed to pale into insignificance when the manager quit!

Match Facts

Stafford: Siviter, Coulson, Hill, Jones, Burns, Green (Sherratt 89), Bailey-Jones, Thorley, Charles (Dixon 90 + 5), Haworth (Banks 75), Cuff. Subs (not used) Askey, Williams.

Goal: Bailey-Jones (5)

Workington: Taylor, Smith, Rowntree, Wordsworth, Calvert, Carroll (Symington 90 + 2), Allison (Hubbold 62), Cowperthwaite, Walker, Paterson (Maguire 46), Tinnion. Sub (not used) Casson.

Goal: Wordsworth (83)

Referee: Andy Ellis

Crowd: 526

Star Man: Dan Wordsworth