WITHAM Town’s best performance of the season saw them narrowly fail to gain a point against league leaders Stowmarket Town, writes JIM PURTILL.

They were beaten 3-2, in a match that made a mockery of the Pitching In Isthmian League division north table.

Witham were positive from the start and Ramiah Mills hit a fierce shot over the bar in the eighth minute.

The visitors took a shock 14th minute lead when Mills' run and a cross from the right enabled Luke Stanley on the left to find the far corner of the net.

Witham midfield debutant Ayo Olukoga hit a post with a shot in the 28th minute.

Shortly afterwards Mills beat four men on a mazy run eight minutes later before crossing from the left to Billy Willis who shot wide.

Another Mills shot fizzed across the goalmouth on the stroke of half-time.

It was a remarkable first half from Witham. Stowmarket had most of the possession but they failed to make good use of it and found it hard to construct a good move.

Evan Collard's shot forced goalkeeper Rhys Madden to make his only significant save of the first half.

Witham created all the chances and it would have been no surprise to see them going into the break further ahead.

The disruption of the half-time break ended Witham’s dominance and Stowmarket began the second period with far more determination and urgency.

They raised the tempo and pushed the visitors back with alacrity.

Stowmarket’s best attacks were on the left where Reginald Thompson-Lambe, Oliver Caley-Brown and Josh Curry were prominent.

In a period of sustained attacking play by the hosts, Witham began to look ragged under pressure.

Madden saved well from Josh Mayhew and George Bugg in quick succession as the pressure on the Witham rearguard mounted.

In the defining period of the match, Stowmarket scored twice in seven minutes.

Both goals were disappointing for Witham to concede as they stemmed from corners with Luke Brown scoring the equaliser in the 54th minute and Josh Curry putting Stowmarket ahead in the 61st.

In their best spell of the match the hosts briefly threatened to pave the way for a convincing victory but Witham weathered the storm and countered the threat in midfield.

Mills had a much quieter second half but he was on hand to equalise for Witham in the 71st minute.

Both sides were looking for more goals but at this point Stowmarket’s greater resource of midfield talent became evident and made the difference.

Too many of Witham’s passes from midfield and defence were careless.

Mills and Adam Vyse were chasing shadows whilst the more measured build-up of Stowmarket’s attacks was making them more dangerous.

In the 81st moment Stowmarket scored the winner with a goal of quality.

Excellent work by Bugg in a deep position on the right and a perfect through ball found Mayhew who slotted the ball home.

Ige was injured by a dangerous foul from substitute Emmanuel Osei-Owusu who was booked but would have had no cause for complaint if a red card had been brandished.

Interim manager Chris Taylor cut a frustrated figure at the end and bemoaned the two lapses of concentration when defending corners that undid all the good work in the first half.

A positive aftermath of the match was the clear disappointment within the Witham management team and players at the failure to achieve a result.

Taylor is constantly introducing new players to the squad but the side has a young average age.

A few more experienced players would probably have made the difference at key moments in this match and could have helped to secure a point or even three.

Youth has to be the way ahead for the club but there is no substitute for experience and a successful side will be a balanced side.

In the short term, the existing and incoming more experienced members of the squad will need to exert their influence.