LUKE Ige's first-half goal secured Witham Town a first league win of the season and condemned Heybridge Swifts to their first defeat, writes JIM PURTILL.

The right-back's 42nd-minute goal ensured a 1-0 victory for Town, in the Pitching In Isthmian League division north clash.

Following Witham’s goalless draw at Wroxham on Tuesday, it was another close contest in which a good result was built on a strong defensive performance.

The first chance fell to Heybridge after eight minutes when a shot by Ross Wall was gathered by goalkeeper Amarildo Cekrezi.

The sides looked well-matched in the early stages; Heybridge enjoyed a territorial advantage without unsettling the Witham defence.

Ige had an excellent chance to open the scoring for Witham in the 28th minute.

Izaih Antoine was brought down in the Heybridge half and from Liam Whipps’ free-kick, the unmarked Ige had a free header but was unable to guide it below the crossbar.

Darius Ghinea had a good shot saved by Heybridge goalkeeper Callum Chafer in the 33rd minute, but as half-time approached neither goalkeeper had needed to be very active. Witham gradually grew into the match and looked comfortable in midfield. Ghinea, playing against his former side, was all energy in midfield and was well supported by Arnold Mengi and Liam Whipps on the left. Witham made the vital breakthrough following an enterprising attacking run from Ige.

A wall pass with Ghinea split the home defence and Ige shot firmly past Chafer.

Cekrezi did well to hold a free-kick three minutes after the break but Heybridge found it hard to threaten the visitors. The pattern of play in the second half matched the first but too many Heybridge passes were going astray as they struggled to find the form that has enabled them to start the season impressively.

Heybridge’s Ben Sartain was a threatening presence but Rowan Dorling was outstanding for the visitors and the Witham defence always looked capable of withstanding Swifts' attacking pressure.

In the 58th minute, Wall chased a ball down the right channel.

Cekrezi advanced well out of his penalty area but Wall could only put the ball into the side netting.

At the other end Rash Salau shot over for the visitors and the indefatigable Ige found himself in a good shooting position after a run from defence but shot wide.

As the match entered the final quarter, Heybridge found it hard to keep their shape and they tried to force the outcome. Witham had cause to be aggrieved in the 78th minute when a good goalscoring chance for substitute striker Favour Orihu was foiled by Chafer who handled the ball outside the penalty area.

Red cards are frequently awarded for less but the referee ruled that a yellow was sufficient.

Chafer saved well from the subsequent free-kick but his continued presence on the pitch was questionable.

Goalscoring has been a problem for Witham this season but their defensive strength is delivering league points.

Clean sheets are the bedrock of football success and if they continue to prevent their opponents from having good scoring opportunities, Garry Kimble's side will finish the season in a respectable league position.