MANAGER Mark Ashford felt the way his Witham Town players defended in the closing stages of their game against Felixstowe & Walton United showed how much they valued the Bostik League division north point they had.

The game ended in a 1-1 draw at Spa Road, but Witham were tested in the closing stages as the visitors laid siege to the home goal and the Town boss was pleased to see the level of resolve that he did.

He said: “I thought Felixstowe started strongly and we took a while to get into the game but when we did, I felt we then did well and we looked the better side.

“We got the goal to go ahead and we looked strong, however, when the equaliser went in you could see that they took heart from that and it was fairly level into half-time.

“We came out strongly after the break, though, and I thought we could go back into the lead, but unfortunately the goal wouldn’t come and that allowed them to get back into it.

“That meant they finished strongly and we were under the cosh a bit at the end with bodies being thrown on the line, but I was pleased to see us hold out.

“I thought Luca Collins was immense in the game and he made some vital saves.

“There were a couple in the first half and then three or four towards the end that were absolutely crucial and it was a really good performance from him.

“But I was very pleased with how resolute we were there at the end and it showed how much the result meant to the players.

“We had eight out due to a variety of reasons so it was a young side that we put out and there were four 18-year-olds on the bench.

“We had a new back line with Jack Kemsley and Siju Odelusi playing together at centre-half having never played alongside each other before.

“And then at full-back, we had Danny Norton, who is more accustomed to playing in midfield and I thought Kevin Coyle was excellent again.

“To come out of that with a point against a Felixstowe side who were sat ninth in the table and doing well was quite some achievement."

The draw ended a run of three defeats for Witham and Ashford was happy to see his team get something from a game when they had eight first-team squad members unavailable.

It meant they had an extremely youthful-looking bench for the game against Felixstowe, but none of the three substitutes who came looked out of place.

“I was really pleased with all of the young players who came on," added Ashford.

“It was a tough game to come on in for a young player but Louie Hunt, Jack Lelliott and Fergal Looney all performed well.

“Jack has been out with injury so it was nice to see him back again and Fergal is a player who I’ve been really impressed with over the last six or seven weeks.

“He has really progressed and I’ve been pleased to see him step up in the way that he has.

“And Louie did very well for us as well.

“I felt he never looked out of place and looked good.

“He has joined us on loan from Concord Rangers and that’s part of a good link we have with them.

“I know the coaching staff there very well and it’s a link that we feel can benefit both parties.

“They’ve just signed (former Witham midfielder) Sam Ashford, who has joined from East Thurrock so there’s a nice link there between our clubs.

“We feel if we can give these young players experience when they are on loan we can help develop them while they are with us and they can help us out so when they return to Concord it will be something that has been good for both of us."