Ryman Div One North
Aveley 0 v 3 Witham Town
TWO goals inside the first ten minutes set Witham well on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win over Aveley at Mill Field.
Goals from Kris Newby after just 55 seconds followed by a goal from Danny Emmanuel after nine minutes all but killed off the game for the Millers.
Despite a spirited second half showing Aveley were unable to muster much in the way of attempts on goal and the points were sealed late on when the referee awarded a dubious penalty which James Stevens converted.
It was a bitterly disappointing result for Justin Gardner’s side, but the manager will be boosted by the sight of club captain, Billy Holland making an appearance as a second half substitute – returning to the side having not played since September 9th.
Having played so well defensively against league leaders VCD Athletic on Monday night, conceding within a minute of kick off was a disaster for Gardner and his side.
After forcing a corner with their first attack of the match, Lee Townrow forced a reaction save out of Jack Giddens before Teddy Nesbitt cleared off the line.
But the clearance only fell as far as Kris Newby who smashed the ball first time into the top corner to give the visitors an early lead.
It was the worst possible start against a side who had won 10 of their 14 away games this season, but the Millers should have been given a chance to level from the penalty spot, which would have changed the entire complexion of the match.
A perfectly weighted ball over the top by Anton Stephenson found Nesbitt, who had run in behind Stevens. The defender pulled at Nesbitt’s left arm but the midfielder stayed on his feet with no penalty awarded despite Justin Gardner’s protestations on the side lines.
If the decision had been given, Stevens would have been last man and presumably sent off whilst also giving Aveley the perfect chance to equalise.
Instead, the match was killed off when Witham went down the other end to extend their lead through Danny Emmanuel.
Lewis Godbold picked up the ball on the half way line and carried it towards the edge of the box before finding Emmanuel. Under pressure Sam Holloway, the midfielder found enough room to shoot on the turn and beat Giddens to double the visitors lead inside 10 minutes.
Having been so solid defensively against VCD, the Millers were at sixes and sevens this afternoon following those two goals and could have been further behind when Townrow’s attempted lob went straight into the hands of Giddens.
Seb Murfet then went close with a pile-driver of an effort from 30 yards that whistled just past the post as Aveley struggled to stay in the match.
A rush of blood to the head of goalkeeper Martyn Guest almost provided Aveley with an opening when he came hurtling out to beat a through ball by Nathan Koranteng.
The ‘keeper was never beating Kyle Asante to the ball but he held up the striker long enough to prevent Asante from getting a shot on target.
Asante was then unfortunate not to get on the end of a driven cross by Koranteng, before being unable to get enough on a knock down from a Holloway free kick as Aveley failed to reduce the arrears before the break.
A third goal early on would have definitely killed off any hope Gardner had of getting his side back into things, and Newby almost forced a third when the ball fell to him at the far post only for Adetayo Osifuwa to get in a good block.
Guest showed good hands to hold onto a low drive from Jay Leader, but it was Witham who looked the more likely to extend their lead rather than Aveley to reduce it and Giddens was forced to make a good save from Newby to keep the deficit at two.
Having picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area, Newby skipped past Glen Golby but fired straight at Giddens who’d done well to close the angle so quickly before the ball was eventually cleared.
Paul King almost scored a goal to remember when the ball fell to him whilst unmarked on the left with the centre halves half-volley rising just over the cross bar.
Any threat that Aveley were managing to produce tended to come down the wings through Koranteng and Paul Burnett.
Burnett, who’s only recently returned to the club, got a shot away on the edge of the area that was easily held by Guest.
Minutes later the winger put in a cross for Asante to bring down and volley just past Guest’s right hand post, whilst down the left, Koranteng forced a smart one handed save from Guest when he sent a dipping half volley towards goal which looked to be sneaking in at the near post.
But in the end there was no way back for Aveley and with 15 minutes left Gardner reintroduced his captain, Billy Holland, to the side having spent almost six months out on the side lines having not played since September 9th against Maldon.
The return of Holland wasn’t enough to stop Witham from putting the final nail in the coffin late on though, thanks to a more than dubious penalty won by Newby.
Newby picked up the ball on the left and ran at Osifuwa. Having beaten the right back easily, Holloway came round the back to shepherd the striker wide and toe-poked the ball out for what he thought was going to be corner only for Newby to throw himself to the ground.
The referee bought it and awarded a penalty which sent Gardner ballistic on the touchline, with the Millers boss later saying that Newby admitted to him that he dived.
The decision though was made and Stevens stepped up to smash his penalty straight down the middle to put the gloss on the score line, sending Witham back into the play off places with four games in hand on leaders VCD and only nine points behind.
Gardner, when asked to sum up the performance after the match, said “we lost the game in the first 10 minutes after conceding two goals. After that it was pretty much an even contest but they’d got two goals so it’s easy to say that.
“I think we lost it because we weren’t tracking our runners and they came at us quickly and we weren’t ready for that, which we should have been, and we’ve not created enough chances today.”
Comparing the two penalty claims – one on Teddy Nesbitt and one late on with Kris Newby – Gardner said “100% I think he (Teddy Nesbitt) was too honest and should have gone down – it would have been a penalty and the red card.
“The player (Kris Newby) said after “I dived” so he’s honest and held his hands up and said it wasn’t a penalty.
“The linesman on my side said it wasn’t a penalty, their bench said it’s not a penalty, the only person who thought it was a penalty was the referee.”
Aveley: Jack Giddens, Adetayo Osifuwa, Sam Holloway, Jay Leader, Glen Golby, Brian Okwera (Billy Holland 76’), Paul Burnett, Nathan Koranteng (Lee Weemes 79’), Anton Stephenson (Mathias Bakare 63’), Kyle Asante, Teddy Nesbitt