Witham Town manager Garry Kimble felt his team “got out of jail” in extending their unbeaten Essex Senior League run to 19 games.
Town stayed top of the table after drawing 2-2 with second-placed Southend Manor at Spa Road, but had to come back from 2-0 down to secure a crucial point that saw them strengthen their position at the summit.
Southend failed to take more advantage of Witham’s poor first-half performance and, while he praised their character in the second period, Kimble felt his team were fortunate to get something from the fixture.
He said: “We were way below par.
“There was a fair crowd here and I think a few of the players froze.
“Southend were always going to go for it as they had nothing to lose.
“They have played two games more than us, so a win would have put them in a better position, but a draw helps us out.
“I would have taken a draw at the start and definitely would have done if you’d offered it to me 20 minutes into the game as they could have been four up by then.
“I think the first goal killed us.
“It hit a bobble and (keeper) Dan (Sambridge) said it just looped over his hands, which can happen, but it knocked the stuffing out of us.
“Credit to Southend Manor, though, they gave us a game.
“We didn’t perform and got away with it.
“We got out of jail in this one.
“The lads did show some character in the second half after a first half when Southend wanted it more than us.
“We showed more in the second half and that shows to me how far we’ve come this year.
“I think Witham would have lost that game from being 2-0 down last year.”