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Just like Hannibal's, I've loved seeing Mark's plans come together

1 week ago By swifty

- Witham Town COMMENT

Here's one for those of a certain vintage - do you remember the A-Team?
It was compulsive viewing on a Saturday evening for legions of fans in the 1980s and I'm minded of the catchphrases of one of their key characters when reviewing Witham Town's mid-season position in Bostik League division north.

Whenever the A-Team's heroes used their cunning scheme to get the better of the bad guys - which they obviously did every week! - Hannibal used to say: "I love it when a plan comes together".
And that's exactly how I feel about Witham at the moment.

Speaking to manager Mark Ashford was a heartening experience in the summer as he is clearly a very intelligent man and a coach who certainly knows his onions, with a vision for how he wants Witham to be, not just as a team, but as a club.

It is an inspiring vision and while he recognised that it would be tough, given the club's paucity of resources compared to the vast majority of sides they would be coming up against, he was determined that he was doing things the right way.

He rightly believed in himself as a coach and the team that he gathered around him that they could deliver on his vision.

There weren't the big-name signings that some fellow division north sides were making, but they were young hungry players who had the qualities that Ashford valued and ones who he felt could fit into his plans.
I had high hopes for them and although you could see the team was a young one, the potential for success was there.

So it was such a shame that results just wouldn't come in the league through much of the early part of the season.

There were notable cup successes as Witham claimed the scalps of sides like Coggeshall Town, AFC Dunstable and Grays Athletic and they showed the promise that was there, but league victories - other than an early one against Barking - just wouldn't come.

We got into mid-November and that win against Barking remained Witham's only one as Ashford's team sunk to the bottom of the division north table.They were starting to get cut adrift and I'm sure there were a nerves being jangled about the situation as dropping out of the Bostik League would be a tough one to take.

However, someone who never lost faith in either his own plan or his players was Mark Ashford.

He knew the talent was there and that his team weren't being played off the park by their opponents.

They weren't a soft touch and he insisted that it was little mistakes that needed to be removed for the potential to be realised.

It was just a matter of the club holding faith with him and his team and thankfully they did.

Having lost games against fellow strugglers Tilbury and Soham Town Rangers either side of a defeat by Aveley - in none of which incidentally, they had been outplayed - came a genesis moment when the team's fortunes were reborn at Felixstowe and Walton United.
It might have been a draw rather than the desired win, but it signalled the start of something.

It was a result that Witham needed to build on and build on it they did as it started a run of six games that saw them go unbeaten through December, drawing with promotion hopefuls Coggeshall, but more importantly, winning four games with clean sheets.

Among their scalps were AFC Sudbury, Canvey Island and most impressively second-placed Maldon & Tiptree.

It's been a pleasure to report on, but what has changed?

There have been a couple of new additions - the experience of Kevin Coyle has helped, as has the attacking threat of Tobi Aromolaran - but the team is essentially the same as it has been through much of the first half of the season.It's just that they are now recognising the fact that they are a team that deserves to be at this level and the confidence given by the run they have had has been building and seems to be coursing not just through the veins of the first-team, but everyone at the club.

Witham Town seems a happy place to be as 2019 gets under way.Confidence is a magic ingredient that any coach would love to bottle and keep, so Ashford must be so pleased that his players have it oozing at the moment.

Neither he nor his players are daft enough to think that the hard work is done, though, as form can depart as quickly as it arrives and no-one thinks the team are going to get to the end of the season unbeaten.

They face Brentwood at home on Saturday and it will be great to carry the buoyancy of December into the opening month of 2019.

But whatever the result, there has been so much to be encouraged by already.

It's wonderful to have seen that Mark's is a plan that is coming together and long may it continue.


By Simon Spurgeon

Updated 14:09 - 7 Jan 2019 by swifty

Where next?

Ashford says display by his Witham "champions" will be fondly remembered Town will be a result that will be fondly recalled by everyone

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witham town vets Chelmer
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Witham Town 1st Team Grays Athletic
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Witham Town Reserves halstead town
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witham town sunday team Witham Phoenix
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Witham Town 1st Team Barking
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