things go from bad to worst after dereham defeat
three games to ensure that they avoid relegation.
Witham Town’s barren run of results continued as they lost their fourth consecutive match. They now face a real struggle for survival in the Bostik League North Division after Romford’s shock win at AFC Sudbury set up a nail-biting finish to the season.
With Kevin Coyle unavailable, Liam Whipps returned for first team duty. Jack Kemsley and Pat Ahern numerically replaced John Watson and Chinedu Vine in the starting line-up.
Witham started brightly and they showed a lot more spirit and confidence than had been evident at Romford last week. With Siju Odelusi looking threatening in the strikers’ role and Kemsley adding his physical presence to the defensive pairing of Ahern and Andrew Tirivanhu, Witham looked well-balanced. It promised to be a good day for the home side when Odelusi finished tidily in the 7th minute to give Witham an early lead.
Dereham rode their luck shortly afterwards when, after a good run on the left, Johnny Ashman’s shot hit the far post and rebounded into the path of Lelliott whose shot hit it the top of the crossbar.
In the 16th minute Dereham equalised as a result of the most controversial incident of the afternoon. After a Dereham throw-in and cross from the right, the ball seemed to go out of play harmlessly for a goal kick. The referee awarded a penalty for an apparent ingfringement. The players on both sides seemed equally surprised but Adam Hipperson equalised from the spot.
The pattern of the game changed after the goal. Ashman was seeing plenty of the ball on the left and Jack Lelliott impressed on the right in midfield. Despite this, Witham were on the back foot as they ceded control in the centre where Dereham’s stronger spine was evident. Witham’s flow of attacks dried up with Odelusi isolated. A familiar pattern emerged as the home side looked disjointed and Dereham took control. In the 43rd minute they went ahead when the ball fell to Ryan Crisp on the edge of the area and his left-foot shot beat Collins.
Witham improved in the early part of the second half. They forced two early corners and regained the initiative with Lelliott and Whipps supporting the attack well. Despite their territorial advantage, the home side lacked the guile to unsettle the Dereham defence in which the obdurate Shaun Wones and Adam Plumstead looked comfortable. Odelusi’s shot straight at goalkeeper Elliot Pride on the hour mark was a rare Witham shot on target.
Little had been seen of Dereham’s attack in the second half but Crisp put them two goals ahead when he showed excellent anticipation and opportunism to finish in the 67th minute. Witham have lacked goalscoring quality throughout the season and they paid the price for their lack of penetration at the other end.
Odelusi had a great chance to reduce the arrears but he snatched at his shot which went well over the bar. Ahern shot wide shortly afterwards. In the 87th minute a penalty was awarded to Witham after Luke Foster was fouled. Odelusi made it 2-3 from the spot.
The final whistle sounded just after a Kemsley throw-in created mayhem in the Dereham penalty area and an effort from Sam Owusu hit the underside of the bar. Witham had found new reserves of urgency but it was too little and too late.
It had been an improved showing by Witham but they stIll looked second-best. After ten defeats from their last thirteen outings, they desperately need league points from the remaining three games to ensure that they avoid relegation.