PAT Ahern said taking on the captaincy of Witham Town was something that he couldn’t say no to when it was offered to him by manager Marc Benterman at the start of this season.

Ahern is one of only a handful of players in the current Witham squad who was with the club before this season and, having come up through the youth and reserve team structures into the first team, he said being captain was a source of great pride.

So it wasn’t something that he had to spend a great deal of time thinking about when Benterman asked him to take the skipper’s armband after becoming manager at the Simarco Stadium.

Ahern said: “It was nice when Bents gave me a call in the summer and said what he’d like from me.

“It wasn’t something that I was going to turn down.

“I’ve been at the club a long time and the armband is definitely something that I wear with pride.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in this side and I know there is a lot more to come from us.

“We over-perform with what we have at this club in terms of resources and have done for a few years but we can’t keep saying that and it’s just down to us applying ourselves now.”

It has been a tricky start to the season for Ahern, though, as a foot injury early in the campaign kept him sidelined for several weeks, but he is back to full fitness now and the centre-half is a key component of Witham’s defensive line.

Witham head into Saturday’s BetVictor Isthmian League division north trip to Dereham Town on the back of a 3-1 victory against Felixstowe & Walton United in the league last weekend.

They then followed that with a 5-4 defeat against Basildon United in the Velocity Trophy in midweek.

However, the main focus is on their league form and Ahern is confident that Witham can do well in division north this year.

As part of the last year’s side, he is well aware that it was a battle to avoid relegation throughout much of last season, however, the captain is confident that sights can be set higher this year.

While form has stuttered a bit in recent weeks after an encouraging start to the campaign, Ahern feels they should be well clear of the drop zone with the quality they have in the side now.

“For me, it has to be mid-table that we’re achieving,” added Ahern.

“This side has the ability to do it and when we apply ourselves there’s no reason why we can’t.

“I’d be looking at halfway (up the table) as a minimum.

“Get the bad spell that we’ve had out of the way, apply ourselves and get up the table.

“Games are coming thick and fast and we have to turn it around.

“We have to be putting in the hard work at training and results will come.”

Witham were beaten 5-4 in their Velocity Cup Group Six match by Basildon United, on Tuesday night.

Town took the lead in the 24th minute through Lewis Byrne Hewitt’s strike but two goals in the space of two minutes through Joseph Turpin and Ayomikun Odukoya gave the visitors the advantage.

Scott Kemp levelled things up for Witham before half-time but the hosts fell behind again early in the second half, following Adam Vyse’s strike.

Two goals in the space of four minutes from Gabby Adelowo (own goal) and Jake Thompson gave Witham a 4-3 lead, just before the hour mark.

But Basildon fought back again and equalised in the 65th minute through Regan Mead and the visitors bagged their winner five minutes later when Harry Norman found the net.