Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Witham Town 4 v 1 Brentwood Town

Monday 26th December 2016
Isthmian League Division One North
Spa Road, Witham
Admission: £8.00
Programme: £2.00
Attendance: 70
Match Rating: 3

At the conclusion of my morning game at Felixstowe, I headed back down the A12 and into the geographical heart of Essex to visit a ground that I have viewed many times from the passing train line.

Spa Road is located to the west of Witham town centre and is part of an open recreational area. Attractive signage guides visitors from the road into the car park, and the ground itself is also well decorated. The clubhouse can only be accessed from outside the ground, and spectators enter via a turnstile block along one length. Once inside, one finds a smart, well maintained stadium with everything looking in balance. To the right of the entrance there is a covered standing, whilst to the left there is covered seating, followed by a few steps of uncovered terracing. A board room is located behind the half way line, with the back of the clubhouse building back onto this length, although only a tea bar window is available to those inside the ground, via a short walk away from pitchside alongside a grassy area. Behind both goals there are a few steps of covered terracing, whilst along the remaining length there is a stand covering mainly a few rows of seating but with small standing areas either side inside. There are a few uncovered terrace steps either side of the stand. It is a shame that such a decent stadium for this level is the home to such modest support, with attendances averaging just 79 this season. It is home to the "Witham Ultra", a one-man band shouting chants throughout the game, and who trod a fine line between admiration of his support and becoming extremely tiresome. The 40 page programme, mainly printed in black and white inside a coloured cover, was adequate enough but with half of it devoted to advertising.

Witham Town came into this game in 13th place in the division, with nine wins and seven draws from their 27 league games so far. Brentwood Town have a battle on their hands to avoid the three relegation spots, one of which they occupied coming into this match, in 22nd place in the 24 team division with seven wins and three draws from their 26 league games and have lost eight of their nine league games.

Happily the beautifully sunny weather of this morning in Suffolk continued here into the afternoon, and this was very much a game of two halves. Brentwood had the better of much of the first half, and they were awarded a penalty on 21 minutes when Connor Martin was bundled over in the box. Andrew Freeman struck the ball home despite the keeper going the right way. The remainder of the first half meandered to its conclusion and Brentwood deservedly held the lead at the break.

Into the second half and there was little sign that the visitors were in danger of losing their lead, until they did on 54 minutes, following an initial shot that was blocked and Ryan Charles smashed the ball home. But shortly after the visiting keeper pulled off a good save to keep the scores level, Nathan Koranteng powerfully drove the ball through a crowd of players and into the far top right hand corner of the net. Brentwood had a great chance to equalise on 75 minutes when Freeman ran onto a through ball but with the keeper to beat, his eventual shot went just wide of the far post. And the game was virtually up for the visitors on 81 minutes, when a clearance was blocked and then played forward to Usman Adeniji, who turned on the edge of the area and thumped the ball home. As the game entered added on time, Luke Mallett scored his team's fourth when he tapped in just before a defender managed to cut out the ball landing at his feet.

So, a slightly harsh final scoreline for the visitors, who were the better team in the first half, although Witham certainly deserved their victory for a very strong second half performance which was full of penetration and good football.

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