Report: Brave Witham Town bow out of the FA Cup after fairytale run

Witham's Kurt Smith climbest highest to score the opening goal

Witham's Kurt Smith climbest highest to score the opening goal - Credit: Archant

Ryman Premier Division new-boys Witham Town couldn’t quite advance into the FA Cup First Round Proper on Saturday as they exited the competition at the hands of Conference South outfit Weston-super-Mare, losing 2-1.

Witham's Adeniji finds the net - but the effort was chalked off due to a previous handball infringem

Witham's Adeniji finds the net - but the effort was chalked off due to a previous handball infringement - Credit: Archant

Garry Kimble’s men had already made history by advancing to this stage of the competition, the Fourth Qualifying Round, and so nearly went one further as they pushed their higher-ranked opponents all the way in front of a fantastic crowd of 620.

Witham, who took the lead through the impressive Kurt Smith in just the seventh minute, certainly created enough chances to have at least earned a replay in Somerset – particularly when substitute James Robinson missed a controversial penalty in the 73rd minute.

That penalty decision saw Weston-super-Mare reduced to 10 men for the remainder of the match, but for all their bombardment of the opponents’ box in a dramatic finale, Witham couldn’t quite find that second goal.

That said, this was a truly professional performance from the Seagulls, as impressive Witham goalkeeper Martyn Guest continually denied them with flying save after flying save.

Kimble’s side got off to a menacing start, and roared on by their ferocious support, took an early lead when Smith climbed higher than ‘keeper Luke Purnell to head home James Stevens’ seventh-minute free-kick.

This act summed up the first quarter of the match perfectly – Witham were the hungrier side, wanting the challenge, and Smith certainly wanted to meet the ball more than a stunned and grounded Purnell.

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But super-Mare grew into the game with marauding right-back Jacob Cane, who had a bit of an eventful game to say the very least, a real outlet for the visitors with some menacing canters forward.

You could sense an equaliser was coming, and in the 36th minute it did as Clayton Fortune’s header was anything but lucky, powerfully rippling into the net.

The hosts fought back immediately though and following some tenacity and perseverance from Smith, Tom Wraight wasted a gilt-edged chance, blazing a close-range effort wildly over with his weaker right foot in front of goal.

The rather breathtaking end to the half continued with Witham sure that they should have had a penalty for handball, while Guest had to be at his best to claw away edge-of-the-area efforts from Gus Mafuta and Cane.

An unexplainable and inexplicable own goal from Witham centre-half Bradley Stopher then gave the Seagulls the lead in the 54th minute.

Last weekend, Richard Dunne celebrated a record-breaking 10 own goals in the Premier League - and the Irishman would certainly be proud of this one which editors and producers alike would certainly push to the front on the next take of ‘Own Goals and Gaffs’.

The defender’s moment of madness came after Guest had made a body save with Stopher, losing all composure and sense of where he was, bewildering even himself as he smashed his rebound clearance into the back of his own net – under no pressure from a super-Mare striker at all. That forced Kimble to act and chase the game, bringing dynamic duo Shammy Pedulu and Usman Adeniji on in the 56th minute.

And to be fair, for the rest of the game Witham were in the ascendancy with the double trouble substitution’s pace and directness making a real impact as they caused panic in the super-Mare back-line.

Still, Guest had to yet again be at his best to turn Mafuta’s shot onto the crossbar, before that controversial 73rd-minute penalty which saw Cane sent off for a Steven Taylor-esque handball on the line after blocking Robinson’s shot following terrific work from Danny Emmanuel and Pedulu.

Adeniji struck the resultant rebound from Cane’s excellent save into the net, but referee Michael George had already blown his whistle for the spot-kick with a red card issued.

As everyone inside the Village Glass Stadium held their breath, Robinson couldn’t keep his nerve as saw his effort from 12 yards strike the bar.

That was the chance for Witham, as despite laying siege to the super-Mare goal in the remaining 20 minutes, they couldn’t quite blow the house down – Purnell denying Connor Mead at the death to end a game and cup run that the Essex side can certainly hold their heads high from.

Witham: Guest, Mead, Murfet, Stopher, P. King (c), Blackman, Stevens (Adeniji 56), Emmanuel, Wraight, Godbold (Robinson 69), Smith (Pedulu 56). Unused subs: Townrow, Watson,R. King.

Weston-super-Mare: Purnell, Cane, Llewellyn, Jordan (c), Fortune, Brown, Mafuta, McClennan (Mawford 50), Fiddes (Ash 84), Grubb, Bath. Unused subs: Camper, Monelle, Harris, Lee.

Referee: Mr Michael George

Attendance: 620

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