MANAGER Mark Ashford felt Danny Norton showed exactly why he has been picked to be Witham Town's captain as he pulled on the goalkeeper's gloves in a tricky situation against Brentwood Town last weekend.

After keeper Luca Collins limped from the field with a groin injury just before half-time, Norton stepped forward to deputise between the sticks and despite never having played in that role before, he rose to the challenge admirably and kept a clean sheet through the second half.

That meant Witham held on to the 2-1 lead they had earned - thanks to strikes from Toby Aromolaran and Luke Mallett - in the first half as they overcame a sluggish start and earned a fifth victory in a seven-game unbeaten run in Bostik League division north.

While Ashford was disappointed with how his team started the game and felt Brentwood were the better side in the early part, he was more than pleased with how his players finished it after losing Collins at a key point in the game.

He said: “I pulled the boys together as soon as I saw it was a serious injury (to Luca) and I asked the boys if there was anyone who wanted to go in goal.

“It was literally like that and Danny Norton said ‘I’ll do it’.

“He is only five foot five tall, but he wanted to do it and that’s the important factor.

“I said to the boys at the end, that that’s why he has the captain’s armband.

“That leadership in that kind of moment says everything."

While it was a blow to lose Collins, though, Ashford said that the adverse position they found themselves in actually galvanised his players and he was proud of their heroic performance in the second half.

“In a funny kind of way, it changed the dynamics of the game," he added.

“Fortunately it happened just before half-time, but it made us have a completely different talk to what it would have been at half-time.

“It would have been about how we were not matching what we said we would do and had not had the mindset we had against teams like Maldon, but all of that went out of the window.

“We didn’t do any tactical talk whatsoever; it was all about psychology.

“It was about the players having a champion mindset and having ten leaders on the pitch in front of Danny.

“The fact that they knew we had that kind of adversity, I think made us get back to the levels we have been at and I think we were actually a better team in the second half.

“Danny made one fantastic save and did two really good catches under pressure but we defended so well across the whole 45 minutes.

“We had two players on the pitch who were injured at the end – Sam Owusu injured his ribs in the same collision that took Luca (Collins) out and Andrew Tirivanhu was struggling with his groin.

“I just said to him that he had to see himself through the game and I thought he was superb.

“Then there was Ayo (Odukayo), who was only supposed to play 60 minutes as he had been nursing a groin problem and hadn’t had a full 90 for about three months, but he stayed on and was incredible.

“There were so many outstanding boys out there.

“At half-time, I probably would have taken a draw, but it got to the last ten minutes and I was just willing us not to concede and I just wanted the boys to hang on."