WITHAM Town boss Marc Benterman felt Luke Ige's sending off was a key moment - and one that was harsh on his team - in their 3-2 Tolleshunt D'Arcy Cup defeat by Heybridge Swifts.

Having made a strong start to the game, Witham suffered a setback in the 31st minute when they were reduced to ten men.

Ige, who is at Witham on loan from Colchester United, made a challenge on Swifts’ Delio Tosoni that initially looked innocuous, but referee Lloyd Wood deemed it worthy of a red card.

Benterman didn't agree with the official's assessment and felt it changed the flow in the game as he saw Heybridge's Harrison Chatting score twice before half-time to take a 2-0 lead into the interval.

Witham staged a sterling comeback after the break, though, and a Declan Nche goal got them back into it as they battled admirably despite the numerical disadvantage.

An equaliser wouldn't come, though, and it was Heybridge who stretched further ahead on 79 minutes when Jack Adlington-Pile fired home a third.

Brandon McCarthy, who was allowed to play on trial for Witham in the game but was signed on for Town afterwards, revived home hope with an excellent goal a minute later, but a leveller just wouldn't come in the closing ten minutes as Swifts held on for a 3-2 victory.

Benterman said: “We had a strong second half against Cambridge on Saturday and we wanted to carry that momentum into this game.

“I thought up until the sending off that there was only one team in it.

“We were superb man-for-man.

“We had played them a few weeks before and we knew their threats going forward so I thought we nullified that and had a fantastic threat going forwards ourselves.

“I felt the sending off was a bit harsh.

“There was a sin bin rule in this competition so it could have been used but Luke (Ige) got a red card when it could have been yellow.

“So I was disappointed with the officials but barring that, I felt we were fantastic for just under an hour with ten men.

“I don’t think you could tell which was the side with ten men.

“Both teams put out strong sides and there were so many positives to take from it for us.

“You can look through the whole side and there was not one person who you could say had not had a good game.

“I felt we were superb to a man."

The Witham boss was impressed by McCarthy's contribution after coming on as a substitute and was pleased to be able to sign him on.

He added: “We were able to use two trialists in the Tolleshunt D’Arcy Cup and Brandon McCarthy came in for us.

“He is lively and we know he is a goal scorer because he scored a lot for Bedfont Sports, who play in the Isthmian League south central division.

“He offers something different from what we have got and he showed that with a wonderful touch to take a diagonal ball down for our second and an excellent finish for a well-taken goal.

Benterman said that Ige’s sending off only affected his availability for a couple of cup competitions so he would be free to feature in Witham's BetVictor Isthmian League division north game at AFC Sudbury on Saturday.