WITHAM Town crashed to a 5-1 home defeat to Basildon United in Pitching In Isthmian League division north at the Simarco Stadium, writes JIM PURTILL.

Trailing to an early goal, Town played with ten men for more than an hour and were unable to prevent a goal rush from their opponents.

Basildon looked the livelier side right from the start.

Striker Samir Ali forced Witham goalkeeper Matt Smith into a good save in the third minute but he put Basildon ahead two minutes later before Witham had mounted an attack.

Callum Bloss's 20th minute free-kick fizzed just wide for Basildon, as Witham struggled to raise their game.

Four minutes later, Witham’s Rowan Dorling cleared the ball from the goal line in another Basildon attack.

The turning point came in the 29th minute when Witham’s Abdul-Rasheed Ajani-Salau was given a straight red card when his feet were too high in a challenge with Basildon’s Ellis Ashworth.

It looked a very harsh decision as there was clearly no contact with Ashworth.

Despite being a man down, Witham briefly showed more promise in attack and Darius Ghinea combined well with Jeff Cobblah to put pressure on the Basildon defence.

In the 34th minute a good run down the left flank by Ghinea led to a shot from Liam Whipps being blocked by Basildon’s Lewis Duberry.

Witham’s attempts to raise their game was dealt a serious blow in the 38th minute when Ali scored again, after a defensive mix-up.

The match was effectively settled as a contest on the stroke of half-time when Montserrat international Duberry scored with a fierce shot from distance to make the half-time score 3-0.

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Witham had a mountain to climb in the second half but they showed early promise with the introduction of debutant Freddie King, who added pace and determination to the midfield.

Substitute striker Ronnie Bates worked hard to give the hosts a glimmer of hope and was supported by the industry of Ghinea and the pace of Cobblah.

Despite this, Witham were unable to make an impact on the Basildon defence, where Alejandro Machado and Bloss provided stiff resistance.

Bates almost forced the ball home in the 53rd minute and Ghinea shot just wide ten minutes later, after an impressive run by Cobblah. Clyde Semazzi scored Basildon’s fourth goal in the 73rd minute and Kai Brown made it 5-0, two minutes later before Ghinea scored a consolation goal, with seven minutes remaining.

Basildon’s Macahdo was sent off after an incident off the ball just before the final whistle.

It was a memorable afternoon with a high goal tally and an even higher number of cards, with two reds and six yellows.

It was a good day for Basildon but not for Witham or the match officials.

The absence of key defensive players and the sending-off of Ajani-Salau played a significant part in Witham’s performance but it was disappointing showing after two very good defensive performances at Wroxham and at Heybridge. Witham’s capitulation was as dramatic as it was unexpected and they will need to go back to basics to make themselves harder to score against in the forthcoming fixtures.