MANAGER Mark Ashford says his Witham Town team must eradicate a concerning trend and wants a big response from his players when they host Soham Town Rangers on Saturday.

While Witham have been pretty impressive when facing sides placed highly in the Bostik League division north table in recent months, they have found it more difficult to turn on the style when coming up against teams lower down the standings.

So with Soham sitting two places below Witham, who are 16th after being edged out in a 1-0 defeat at Heybridge Swifts last weekend, Ashford is telling his players that they need to raise their game.

“There is a concern for me because you can’t ignore our track record," he said.

“You can’t bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening.

“We have looked a very good side against the top teams in the division and we have more often than not got something out of games against the likes of Maldon & Tiptree, Sudbury, Heybridge, Coggeshall, Grays and Canvey.

“And in some of the others against sides like Aveley and the second one against Bowers & Pitsea, we have been in those games.

“So we have shown we can do it and have shown that this young group that we have does have the potential.

“If we’d played to our optimum levels in every game then we’d be up around the play-offs, but the challenge is why we have only tended to do it in the so-called big games.

“When playing the lower sides, we are not at the same levels and that is a concern for me as it should also be for the players and it is one that we have to solve.

“We are on track to meet our targets for the year or avoiding relegation and developing young players within the small budget that we have, but we must sort this if we are going to develop further.

“There are ten league games left and I have to ask the players what they want to get from them, starting against Soham on Saturday."

The Witham boss is also keen for his players to showcase themselves in front of their own fans as he felt the Spa Road faithful hadn't seen the best of his team for a while.

He added: “I think we owe our home fans a performance because I don’t honestly think we have put one in at home since the Sudbury game at the start of December.

“We have put in some decent 45 minutes, but for me, as proper performance is over the whole 90 minutes and we have the chance to do that against Soham.

“We owe our loyal band of supporters a performance where we come out of the blocks like it is a cup tie and give them something to enjoy.

“The way you build your fan base is to give your home supporters something to see with players showing real passion.

“The players want to perform in front of bigger crowds as well so they have a big part to play in this and they have to put in the performance.

“It is about time we turned up for one of our home games and make sure we are on it all the way through.

“Soham are just below us in the table and will see it as an opportunity so they will work their socks off and we have to be ready to match that.”

Meanwhile, Witham have seen some changes to their squad this week with a couple of departures.

Striker Ayo Odukoya has been released and full-back Luke Mallett has chosen to make a departure.

Ashford said the exits would open the chance to bring in some new faces ahead of the end of March.