WITHAM Town's survival hopes in Pitching In Isthmian League division north suffered a blow when they were beaten 1-0 by Tilbury at the Simarco Stadium, writes JIM PURTILL.

The home side found it impossible to recover from the loss of goalkeeper Rhys Madden, who was shown a red card on the stroke of half-time.

In a quiet start for both clubs, Tilbury looked more composed in the early stages and most of the action took place in the Witham half.

Alex Clark and Kwanbena Yeboah combined well for Tilbury after 17 minutes and forced a corner, from which Madden saved well.

A minute later, Clark ran down the right and delivered a cross that flashed across the goal.

Witham’s early attacks had been disjointed but they found more fluency at the midway point of the first half and began to dominate the proceedings.

Long throws from Ramiah Mills caused problems for the visitors.

Charlie Pegrum shot just wide for the hosts after 27 minutes and Luke Ige shot over the bar as Witham increased the pressure on the Tilbury goal.

Harry Honesty worked hard in the Witham attack and the combative Liam Whipps was the most impressive player on the pitch.

Too much possession was wasted by both sides but Witham looked the more impressive outfit, in the first half.

The defining moment of the match took place in the 45th minute.

Clark chased an apparently innocuous long ball towards the Witham goal and Madden beat him to it by snatching the ball.

However, Madden was shown a red card for handling the ball outside the penalty area.

It was a bizarre incident, as there had seemed little threat from the attack.

Witham did not have a substitute goalkeeper, so Whipps donned the goalkeeper’s jersey and took Madden’s place between the posts, immediately doing well to save the subsequent free-kick from Adam Vyse.

Three minutes after the half-time break, Whipps was beaten by a shot from Clark that found the far corner of the net.

He could not be blamed for conceding the goal and went on to distinguish himself with a confident and capable goalkeeping performance, including three good second-half saves.

The second half was lacking in quality and Witham found it impossible to unsettle the Tilbury defence. The visitors lacked the guile to make their numerical advantage count.

Honesty shot wide after a good run in the 55th minute and the ubiquitous Clark missed an easy chance for Tilbury when he shot wildly after 63 minutes.

Witham raised the tempo towards the end. Substitute Fabio Szepan-Afele showed determination in the 70th minute when he forced a corner but Arnold Mengi’s dangerous spot-kick was kept out by custodian Harty Girling.

Luke Ige and Mills both shot wide towards the end but Tilbury held out and gained three precious points.

The final outcome at the bottom of the Isthmian North table is still uncertain.

It looks likely that matters will not be decided until the last match of the season on April 22 when Witham visit Maldon and Tiptree.