WITHAM Town provided a masterclass in the art of paying the price for not taking chances in front of goal as they were beaten 4-1 by Grays Athletic in a feisty Essex derby in Bostik League division north.

In the early stages of their game at the Village Glass Stadium, it appeared as though the visitors would be powerless to prevent Witham extending their unbeaten run to a sixth game.

With Town’s incisive running from midfield seemingly able to open Grays’ defence at will, all that was needed was a clinical edge in front of goal.

Unfortunately for the hosts, it was sadly lacking and rather than being two or three goals ahead and in control of the game, they allowed their visitors to punish their early wastefulness.

Athletic didn’t spurn the chances that were afforded to them and brushed an under-par Witham aside in the end.

Following Town's early profligacy when Lance Akins, Shamido Pedulu and Correy Davidson were all unable to convert excellent chances, Grays went ahead from a 36th minute penalty.

It came for a handball by Alex Anderson and was converted by Kieran Bishop, before Ryan Mahal added a second from a corner just before the break.

Witham's job was made harder when Jamie Slabber made it 3-0 on 49 minutes and Bishop completed the visitors' scoring on 65 minutes, leaving a penalty strike from Davidson, with 12 minutes remaining, as only a consolation for the hosts.

There was then insult to Witham's injury in the final minute as the feisty derby ended with an off-the-ball incident that saw Town skipper Akins issued with a red card as the home side saw out the game with ten men.

While Witham were struggling at home, though, HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS were winning on the road as they overturned an early setback to win 3-1 at Brentwood.

Matt Price gave the hosts the lead in the 16th minute, but a strike from Kreshnic Krasniqi made things level for Swifts at half-time and they then stretched their legs after the break.

A chance to take the lead from a penalty was spurned, but Ryan Henshaw did put Heybridge ahead with a 70th minute goal and a fantastic Juan Luque strike wrapped up the points in the 83rd minute.

MALDON & TIPTREE had to settle for a point from their home game against Canvey Island.

The Jammers fell behind to their Essex rivals in the 14th minute when Sam Collins gave the Gulls a lead that they held until half-time.

However, Maldon goal machine Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe pulled the home side level six minutes after the restart and a Ryan Gondoh strike put them ahead on the hour mark.

It was a lead that only last until the 79th minute, though, as Mitchell Gilbey struck for Canvey to ensure the points would be shared.