town fine form stuns canvey winning 1.0
and move off the bottom of table
Witham Town’s December improvement continued with a well-deserved win at Canvey Island where Johnny Ashman scored the only goal with a free-kick in the 62nd minute. In bitterly cold conditions and driving rain, it was an impressive all-round team performance from the visitors, who outfought and outplayed the hosts to secure a third consecutive win and clean sheet.
Canvey had the stronger opening with Witham having to face a number of attacks, but Witham gradually found their feet with John Watson influential in midfield and Johnny Ashman dangerous in the attack. Watson’s clever pass found Sam Owusu in space on the right and a menacing run resulted in a corner after a good save by Harry Palmer in goal for Canvey. Another through ball from Watson released Ashman whose shot was parried by Palmer.
At the other end a dangerous cross from the left was headed away by Andrew Tirivanhu and Kane Gilbert shot high and wide for Canvey when well-placed.
A penalty was awarded to Witham following a bizarre incident when the ball was handled by a Canvey defender who thought that the referee had stopped play. Sam Ashford took the kick but it was saved by ex-Witham custodian Palmer.
A good first half for Witham ended after Palmer was on hand again to frustrate Luke Mallett after a dangerous run on the right.
Canvey looked the more energetic outfit in the early stages of the second half and showed greater physicality but Witham found their rhythm with Watson and Danny Norton looking more influential. The strong wind and driving rain were in Canvey’s faces in the second half and they found it harder to move the ball forward with accuracy.
Norton was narrowly wide with a header and the defining moment of the match came in the 62nd minute when Luke Mallet was body-checked after good work by Luke Foster. Ashman’s free kick from distance seemed to be covered by Palmer but the ball evaded his grasp to put the visitors a goal up.
The pattern of the game changed as Canvey pushed forward more in search of an equaliser, but they were frustrated by the quality of Witham’s work off the ball. Canvey’s attacks down the flanks were strongly resisted by the aggression and pace of Mallett on the right and the calm assurance of the outstanding Kevin Coyle on the left, who displayed his quality under pressure. Pat Ahern and Tirivanhu were in no mood to concede and despite the frequency of Canvey’s attacks, Luca Collins in the Witham goal was seldom troubled. The physical approach of Canvey’s substitutes Adam Vyse and Sam Dulieu was causing problems for the visitors in the latter stages of the game, but too many of the Islanders were trying to win the game on their own and there was a lack of controlled possession.
Witham looked dangerous on the break throughout the second half and the pace of Ashman and Foster repeatedly put the pressure back on the Canvey defence who were playing a high line. Ashman was replaced by Toby Aromolaran, who proved effective towards the end.
This was a strong and disciplined team performance by Witham in very difficult conditions at a venue where away wins have to be earned. The Witham side now picks itself and the squad looks well-balanced with a good blend of youth and experience. The recent additions have strengthened the squad and the team is showing increasing confidence, spirit and resilience.