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Happy homecoming for Witham as they beat rivals Maldon
Witham Town made sure of a happy homecoming as they best Maldon and Tiptree 3-0 in their first game at the Village Glass Stadium since December 7.
A waterlogged pitch had scuppered efforts to play home games since then but they finally beat the weather and their local rivals in this Ryman League division one north clash.
It was a scrappy first half, not helped by a heavy pitch that was clearly slippery under foot.
And the fact that it was a clash between local rivals, both going for promotion, added extra spice.
As a result there were a few niggly moments as tempers threatened to boil over more than once and clear-cut chances were at a premium.
Home keeper Martyn Guest had to be aware when Brad Hunter took advantage of hesitation in the home defence early on, but just as it looked as if the half would end goalless, Witham went ahead.
A free-kick wide on the left was fired in by Lewis Godbold through a crowded goalmouth and into the net for a 1-0 lead at the break.
Maldon knew they had work to do at the start of the second half, but it was Witham who took the game by the scruff of the neck.
Kris Newby somehow failed to find the back of the net when he pounced on a slip by Maldon keeper Dylan Skinner and hit the post with the goal gaping on 48 minutes.
But the hosts didn't have to wait too long to extend their lead.
On the hour mark the ball broke to Kye Ruel just outside the box and the former East Thurrock midfielder marked his home debut by firing the ball through a crowd of bodies and past the dive of Skinner.
It became 3-0 eight minutes later when a delightful curling shot by Newby clattered off the crossbar and fell to Danny Emmanuel, who scuffed his shot but it squirmed its way in.
There was an ugly altercation involving almost all the players on the pitch in the dying minutes, with cautions for three Maldon players - Junior Appiah, Spencer Harrison and Alberto Pinto - and Witham's Luke Olley.
But it did nothing to change the final result as Witham eased home to three valuable points.
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