WHILE he admitted that his team may not have deserved three points, manager Mark Ashford said it was a shame that Witham Town came away from their derby clash at Heybridge Swifts empty-handed.

Swifts kept their Bostik League division north promotion push on course with a 1-0 win at Scraley Road, but Ashford felt his side's display - or what he could see of it - merited more than the return they got even with reduced numbers after the sending off of Ayo Odukoya in the first half.

“We gave a good account of ourselves, even with ten men," he said.

“We probably didn’t deserve the win but I felt we deserved something out of it.

“That’s credit to our team because they had to play against a side sat second in the league with ten men for more than 45 minutes and I don’t think Luca Collins had a save to make from open play in that second half.

“We could have got the draw and I don’t think too many people would have said we did not deserve something."

It was a difficult result for Witham to take, but Ashford questioned whether the game should have gone ahead at all.

He was keen for it not to sound like sour grapes after his team had lost, but the Witham boss felt extremely foggy conditions on the night made the game a bit of a lottery for both sides.

He added: "To be honest, I spoke to the officials before the game as it was bad enough then.

“As soon as the ball was kicked above crossbar height you lost it in the fog and that had an impact on both teams.

“They had no chance of setting themselves for balls forward or balls coming on to them because by the time they spotted the ball it was on top of them coming out of the fog.

“In my judgement there was a big impact on the game and I didn’t think it should have gone ahead as it was only going to get worse.

“The officials told me they were concerned about Heybridge’s resources but in my mind that shouldn’t be a factor.

“I’m a manager who really doesn’t criticise officials but on this occasion I felt they got it wrong.

“It affected the game not only for both sets of players, but also the spectators.

“They could only see half the pitch at best – it was like having a game on Sky Sports and only having cameras on one half of the pitch.

“I was in the dug-out down the far end from where we were attacking in the first half and apparently we had two or three good opportunities for Toby Aromolaran and Luke Foster, but I couldn’t even tell what they were in terms of understanding if they could have done better.

“It was ridiculous and I felt for both sets of players and the spectators who had come out.

“We had people there who had come over from Witham looking to see a proper derby and it was a shame.

“I know the officials’ intentions were in the right place but I don’t think they did anyone any favours.

“I know it may sound like sour grapes because we lost the game, but I said before the game started that it should have gone ahead.

“The second half was even more ridiculous as you really could not see across to the other side of the pitch so how on earth could the linesmen see if there was an offside."

Aside from the end result, there was another frustration for Witham as they saw Odukayo sent off for violent conduct in the 42nd minute and Ashford said it was behaviour that he would not defend from one of his players.

He said: “There was a coming together between Ayo (Odukoya) and their centre-half Luke Wilson and Ayo pushed his head at him.

“You can’t do that and I accept the red card.

“I won’t defend that because I have tried to make Witham a much more disciplined side.

“That’s a personal thing of mine and we have got ourselves much higher in the Bostik League’s discipline table then the club have been before.

“I always think a disciplined side is one that is focused and is better for it.

“You will pick up red cards throughout a season and that will happen as much as you don’t want them to, but situations like that can’t happen.

“We were more than holding our own in the game, our shape was working well and we genuinely looked the equal of a good Heybridge side.

“Then suddenly we had lost a centre forward and we had to change tactics to try and stay in the game to try to take something from it."