WITHAM Town suffered a heavy 7-0 defeat in their first Pitching In Isthmian League division north match of the season, writes JIM PURTILL.

They were shocked by a five-goal blitz by Hullbridge Sports in the second half, at the Simarco Stadium.

Witham had been impressive in the Emirates FA Cup tie at Grays on the previous Saturday and were in a confident mood.

But the match got off to the worst possible start for Witham when Julian Simon-Parson headed into his own goal after only three minutes while defending a corner at the far post.

However, within a minute Witham nearly equalised when Dan McCulloch just failed to connect with a fellow a cross from debutant Jordi Papple.

The home side made a good recovery from the early setback and mounted a series of attacks in which Papple and Jordi Papple were prominent.

Witham attacked more up to the half-hour mark but Hullbridge began to look more dangerous when they came forward.

Kieran Bishop was leading the line well for the visitors and the pace of Nathan Scarborough was effective on the right.

A run and cross-shot from Scarborough led to a goal-line clearance from Billy Willis while Witham keeper Rhys Madden made a great save from a point-blank Bishop header.

Witham were pressing for an equaliser and Elliott Capel skied a good chance from just inside the penalty area.

They looked likely to score the next goal, but it fell to Hullbridge in the 35th minute when Callum Fitzer buried a fierce shot into the net.

Witham went into the half-time break knowing that it was going to be difficult to recover from a two-goal deficit but within ten minutes of the restart, the deficit had doubled.

Emmanuel Okunja was on hand to finish from close range after a cross from the right.

Scarborough‘s header from a corner made it 4-0 five minutes later.

The game had changed beyond recognition and Hullbridge had their tails up and continued to stream forward in search of more goals.

The quality of crosses into dangerous areas together with the energy and pace of the visitors’ midfield were giving the home side plenty of problems.

Witham had their share of possession but failed to make an impression in attack in the second half.

There were good individual performances but the team lacked the co-ordination that will come with time when the new players settle into the team and find their collective feet.

Madden did well on two occasions before he was beaten again by substitute Lewis Watson in the 80th minute.

The same player scored again six minutes later.

A final goal from Fitzer with virtually the last kick of game set the seal on a day that Witham will want to forget.

The manner of the second half decline will be a big disappointment for manager Marc Benterman after a good start to the season at Grays.

The squad has obvious potential but few of the players can take any pleasure in their second-half showing.

The manager will expect to see improvements right across the squad in the coming fixtures.