WITHAM Town suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat to bottom side Hullbridge Sports at the Simarco Stadium, writes JIM PURTILL.

The result reinforces the home side’s position in the bottom three of Pitching In Isthmian League division north, as they hope for an improvement in the New Year.

Witham had some key men missing for this fixture including Adam Vyse, Rojas Janilionis and Kahlil Kirwan-Meade.

In the first attack of any consequence from either side, Hullbridge’s Deago Dunbar-Bonnie had a fierce shot from the left saved by Witham goalkeeper Rhys Madden in the 12th minute.

Nigel Aris impressed for Witham in the early stages with good work on the right.

After he was brought down just outside the penalty area by Emmanuel Folarin in the 16th minute, Adam Cheniti fired a free-kick just over the bar with Lewis Greene in the Hullbridge goal beaten.

Despite some promising Witham breakaways it was Hullbridge Sports who forced the pace in the early stages and Witham had to work hard to contain them.

Tony Stokes shot wide when he could have done better in the 23rd minute.

Hullbridge had the best of the early skirmishes but Witham improved gradually.

Callum Matthews on his return from injury became more influential and Witham gained a measure of control.

It was a generally scrappy contest that bore all the hallmarks of a match between two sides at the foot of the table.

There was a distinct lack of quality from both sides. Possession was surrendered too easily and both defences put pressure on themselves with poor clearances.

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Witham opened the second half in more assertive fashion.

Rian McLean had a great chance to put the home side ahead soon after the break but his shot was parried by Greene.

Madden blocked a shot from Joe Gregory but most of the play was taking place in the Hullbridge half.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball, Witham’s attacks were low on penetration.

Callum Matthews, Greg Akpele and Aris frequently linked up well when going forward but the home side let themselves down as the quality of the final ball was lacking too often.

A deflected Matthews drive looked goalbound but went wide just wide with Greene flat-footed by the change of direction.

The goalkeeper redeemed himself when he bravely punched away the subsequent corner under pressure from Akpele.

This contest always looked like a match which would be decided by a single goal and the defining moment came in the 61st minute.

A poor Witham defensive clearance found ex-Witham player Ross Elsom in the right place to score a crucial goal for Hullbridge.

The home side tried to raise their game and forced corners that were well-defended.

Billy Willis and Liam Whipps delivered good crosses from both wings but Greene and the central defenders dealt with the pressure.

Witham’s McLean latched onto a free-kick at the far post after Aris had been fouled but Greene did well to block the shot.

At the other end Madden made a great save to deny Tony Stokes from adding to the lead.

Ultimately the Witham response to going a goal down was lacked the quality to force an equaliser and Hullbridge held out to secure only second league win of the season.

Witham will rue their failure to take the opportunity to gain league points, in a such an important match.