A DOMINANT second-half performance secured Witham Town a 3-0 victory over Maldon and Tiptree and a place in the Isuzu FA Trophy second qualifying round, writes JIM PURTILL.

It was a convincing win by Witham at the Simarco Stadium who looked like a fluid unit through the afternoon and they were clinical in front of goal.

The hosts looked more enterprising in a largely featureless first half.

Witham showed greater attacking initiative than the visitors with the energy of Darius Ghinea and the flair of Arnold Mengi in midfield threatening to unsettle the Maldon defence.

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They found it hard to make their dominance count and their midfield control in the first half hour did not result in any significant goal threats.

Maldon had a better spell toward the end of the first half and came close to scoring when ex-Witham striker Shane Temple hit a shot from the right that looked goalbound but was deflected for a corner.

A free-kick from Andre Hasanally tested Witham goalkeeper Amarildo Cekrezi, who saved with difficulty.

It had been a first half with little to excite the crowd in the overwhelming heat.

But the soporific nature of the match ended in the 50th minute when Witham took the lead.

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A long ball from Gaz Dauti was perfect for Jeff Cobblah, who was running towards the Maldon goal.

Cobblah’s lob above goalkeeper Thomas Middlehurst broke the deadlock.

It was a rare moment of quality and it set the scene for a second half that was far more eventful and entertaining than the first period.

Maldon responded well initially and Hasanally's fierce shot from outside the penalty area bounced off the Witham crossbar in the 55th minute.

Another Hasanally effort four minutes later was hit with venom but sailed over.

A determined run from Rash Salau on the left forced a corner for Witham in the 62nd minute and two minutes later they went further ahead.

Cobblah's shot on the right was parried by Middlehurst and Ronnie Bates was in the right place to score from the rebound.

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Key moments decide football matches. Such a moment arrived in the 67th minute when Cekrezi made an inspired save from Alex Clark to preserve the two-goal margin.

Four minutes later, Cekrezi saved well again from Temple as Maldon staged a revival of sorts. The custodian was not exposed again as the Witham defensive unit was strong with Rowan Dorling and Joseph Alatise providing obdurate resistance.

Witham gradually tightened their control. They looked a far more fluid unit than the visitors when moving forward.

Intelligent substitutions stiffened Witham’s’ resolve and the hosts never looked in danger of surrendering their lead.

Munashe Mharapara was influential after his introduction in the 65th minute and his shot seemed to have added a third goal in the 80th minute.

The officials ruled that the ball had not crossed the line and play continued.

The quality of Cobblah’s contribution had grown throughout the contest and his outstanding performance was enhanced by a penalty in the 87th minute.

He converted with aplomb to assure Witham’s three-goal victory.

Maldon had their moments and they can find consolation in good individual performances from Hasanally and substitute Louie Remi.

On another day, the Jammers could have reduced the deficit but they did not show enough quality or determination to deserve a result. Their lack of confidence was apparent.

Witham showed a greater hunger and in the final quarter of the match they were still in attacking mode in search of more goals.

A cup win means another fixture in Witham’s crowded schedule but they will be more than happy to accept the positives from this victory. The Simarco Stadium will host Isthmian Premier side Hornchurch in the FA Cup second qualifying round, on Saturday.