town first ever win at parkside earns win over grays
as One-goal wins and clean sheets are becoming a habit.
A 66th minute goal from Kevin Coyle signalled a return to winning ways for Witham Town against a Grays Athletic side who were sixth in the table when the teams kicked off..
The result was no more than Witham deserved. Their organised and hard-working team performance secured the club’s first ever victory at Parkside and the sixth win in the last eight games.
Following the defeat at Mildenhall in Witham’s previous outing, manager Mark Ashford shuffled the pack. New arrival Siju Odelusi made his first start at right back, as did Tyler Christian-Law in the mid field.
Grays were the first side to threaten in the early stages with Ryan Mahal putting in a dangerous cross from the right that flashed across the goalmouth and evaded everyone. Shortly afterwards Charlie Allen went close with a shot that was deflected for a Grays corner.
In a cautious opening, Witham’s main priority was to avoid conceding an early goal. They were happy to play a patient game and frustrate their opponents.
Neither goalkeeper was tested until Witham custodian Finlay Shorten was called upon to make a save from Kieran Bishop’s shot on the 20-minute mark.
A pass from Christian-Law led to a good run by Toby Aromolaran on the right but his shot did not have the pace to threaten goalkeeper Bogard. Shortly afterwards, Johnny Ashman chased a long ball that was kicked upfield by Bogard. At the other end a promising Grays move led to Shorten dropping a high ball in a dangerous position but a free-kick was awarded to Witham for a foul by Zak Henry on the goalkeeper.
Grays were seeing slightly more of the ball but their possession was not hurting the visitors, who were organised enough to counter any attacks comfortably. Neither side looked threatening in attack and by half-time it looked likely obvious that the first goal would decide the contest. The second half began in the same vein but Witham seemed to be pushing up more and defending higher. A looping header from Michael Toner that went over the bar on the hour mark was the only goal chance of note at either end until the deadlock was broken in the 66th minute.
A corner from Ashman on the left was steered home by Kevin Coyle for his first Witham Town goal. This prompted a reaction from Grays and their first spell of co-ordinated attacking but they lacked a cutting edge. They forced a succession of corners but a mixture of poor execution and determined defending from the visitors prevented any real chances.
Striker Kurt Smith in his second spell at Witham replaced Aromolaran in the 76th minute. Almost immediately he had an excellent chance to score but failed to steer the ball home. Within two minutes Grays missed their best chance of the match when a cross from the right found Toner in front of goal but he headed over when he should have hit the target.
In the latter stages Kurt Smith did enough to suggest that he will be a useful addition to the Witham attack. His aggression, pace and ball-holding ability look likely to threaten defences.
A visit to Grays Athletic is never an easy fixture. This was not an expansive performance by Witham but they took one of their few chances and deserved to beat Grays who lacked quality in the final third. It was a notable scalp for Witham and comes soon after victories at Canvey Island and Maldon. One-goal wins and clean sheets are becoming a habit.