Witham dig deep to keep their run going
WITHAM TOWN 2 BRENTWOOD TOWN 1
There were some battered and bruised Witham Town bodies that limped off the pitch after their game against Brentwood Town, but a further three Bostik League division north points in the bank had a remarkably soothing effect.
Witham lost kevin coyle and Luca Collins to injuries in the first half and they also fell behind as Brentwood came out of the traps fast.
But a wonderful Toby Aromolaran strike and a luke mallett penalty put them ahead at half-time.And with skipper Danny Norton deputising in goal for Collins after the break, a resolute defensive performance saw Witham hold on to their points to stretch their unbeaten run to seven games.
Sam Ashford’s departure to join National League South side East Thurrock United meant there was one change from the side that beat Maldon & Tiptree seven days earlier and it saw a start for Ayo Odukayo.A fast start from Brentwood placed Witham on the back foot early on and they had a scare on six minutes when keeper Collins ventured out of his area to intercept a ball forward, but after he failed to make contact, it took a clearance from Andrew Tirivanhu to deny Brentwood an opening goal.The visitors kept that momentum going, with striker Harry Doyle seeing an effort go just wide.
Witham were further hampered on the quarter-hour mark when a shin injury for Coyle saw the experienced defender having to be substituted early on.
It hadn’t been the start that Witham were hoping for and Brentwood’s pressure eventually told on 24 minutes when Ernest Okoh slammed the ball into the net to give the visitors the lead.
The goal came just after Toby Aromoloran had tested Brentwood keeper Robert Budd with a dipping shot from the edge of the box and the hosts knew they had to respond to falling behind.
They did just that on 34 minutes after an attempted clearance by the Brentwood defence rebounded into the path of Aromolaran.There was a touch of good fortune about it, but the Witham striker still had to do the hard work of holding off a strong challenge and firing past Budd, but he did with style to pull his side level.
With the game back level pegging, Witham looked far more settled and they found themselves in the lead in the 45th minute.The goal came when a long clearance by Collins fell into the path of Aromoloran, who again showed tremendous strength to power into the Brentwood box, but just as he was poised to shoot, he was fouled and referee Jamie Pope pointed to the penalty spot.
And just as he had against Coggeshall Town two weeks before, luke mallett stepped forward to drive his spot-kick into the goal to give Witham the lead at half-time.
However, the opening 45 minutes concluded on a downbeat note for the home side as Collins limped from the field after landing awkwardly while collecting a cross.
That saw 5ft 7in Town skipper Danny Norton handed the gloves for the last knockings of the first half and he kept them for the second 45 minutes as well.
Brentwood were keen to test the new Witham keeper, but it was in front of their own goal that much of the early action took place as Witham stayed on the front foot.
When they did find themselves pressed back, bodies were thrown on the line to protect their goal and the resilient edge that has grown within the Witham side came to the fore once more.
And when they did gets shots away, like a header from Quba Gordan and a drilled shot from Jed Smith, Norton was well-placed to make confident stops.At the other end, meanwhile, Witham still posed a threat on the break and a fierce effort by Aromolaran saw Budd having to make a flying save at full stretch.
Norton was called more into action as the end approached and Brentwood pushed for an equaliser, but the stand-in keeper did well, saving from close-range at a corner and then coming off his line to close down a chance when Harry Doyle broke through.
The closing stages of the game were frantic as Brentwood kept the pressure on, but Witham stayed resolute as a team and while they finished it battered and bruised, they made sure their unbeaten run continued into 2019.
By Simon Spurgeon