MANAGER Mark Ashford was philosophical about Witham Town's fortunes after seeing a last-gasp goal send them down to a frustrating defeat against Canvey Island.

Witham were dealt the twin blow of seeing a chance to win the Bostik League division north clash denied late on when Johnny Ashman's penalty kick was saved and then having a point snatched off them by an even later winner for the Gulls.

It means Witham have taken just a single point from their last six games, but Ashford was pragmatic about seeing precious points slip away on this occasion.

He said: "The nature of the defeat was tough - missing a penalty with five minutes to go and then conceding in the fifth minute of injury-time at the end with pretty much the last kick of the game.

"If you win like that then it's fantastic but losing like that is tough for supporters, players and management.

"We're not in a disastrous position but we are in a precarious position and we want to get those important planks down as quickly as we can so it was disappointing to lose that way. "Going from the verge of winning to losing in quick time like that is hard, going from a possible three points, to one and then none is tough but that is the beauty of sport. "You have to understand that you won't always be on the positive side and the law of averages tells you that sometimes you are on the receiving end.

"We have to stay philosophical about it and you can't get too low with these things.

"You have to brush yourself down, treat it as I have described, get back on the horse and hope the situation turns itself around in the next game."

While the result and the manner of the defeat was tough to take, though, Ashford was quick to absolve Ashman of any blame after the midfielder saw a late penalty saved by Canvey Island keeper Harry Palmer.

"Johnny was brave enough to not just take the penalty but to want to step up and take it," added Ashford.

"He put himself in that situation and I applaud him for that.

"He was distraught at the end of the game because he knew he had the chance to win it for us, but this is the same player who scored in the 89th minute for the win at Barking with a superb shot outside the area with his wrong foot.

"He had no reason to be hard on himself.

"It was a very well struck penalty and, although it looked like the keeper was off his line when he saved it and I'd like the officials to be stricter on that, it was a good save.

"Johnny Ashman did nothing wrong.

"But we didn't lose just because of that anyway. "We were poor in possession in the first half and that was from all the players.

"We gave it away too often from situations of good possession and that allowed Canvey to build pressure.

"I don't think we had a shot on target in that first half, but I felt we were better in the second half; we hit the crossbar and created eight or nine decent chances. "But sport can be cruel so that when you need luck the most that's when it seems to go against you. "The only way to turn it around is to pull your socks up and work hard."