WITHAM Town avoided relegation and secured their place in Pitching In Isthmian League division north with a convincing win over Saffron Walden Town in their inter-league play-off match, writes JIM PURTILL.

It was a surprisingly one-sided contest against the Essex Senior League runners-up, who had won 11 of their final 12 league matches.

Witham saved the best until last with a professional performance where the margin could have been higher.

After an early scare in which their opponents nearly scored through Matt Harley in the fifth minute, Witham quickly established dominance.

They remained in command for virtually the rest of the match, with three goals in a 22-minute spell put the outcome beyond doubt.

Witham’s Josh Osude showed his pace in the 18th minute when his run on the right beat two men and his shot was saved by goalkeeper James Young at the expense of a corner.


An excellent corner by Liam Whipps was headed over the bar by Jimmy Wallace.

Four minutes later Witham’s Archie Tamplin threaded a perfect pass through the visitors’ defence for Adam Vyse who forced a good save from Young for another corner.

The pace and determination of Osude were effective on the right for Witham, with Adam Vyse and Ramiah Mills in attack receiving good service from the midfield.

Tamplin excelled when going forward and Callum Matthews was a stalwart in midfield.

Witham’s controlled passing game was in contract to the direct style of Saffron Walden which continually resulted in wasted possession.

Young saved brilliantly from Witham’s Rian McLean in the 29th minute.

Less than a minute later, a rare dangerous move from the visitors resulted in Gavin Cockman firing a shot across the Witham goalmouth.

In the 41st minute Young made another good save when he pushed the ball over the bar from Vyse’s header.

The all-important breakthrough occurred when McLean’s header from the subsequent corner put Witham ahead.

Witham fully deserved their half-time lead. A reaction from Saffron Walden looked likely in the second half but it failed to materialise.


The visitors were unable to raise their game.

They found it impossible to make any impression in attack and were kept fully occupied in trying to counter Witham’s offensive forays.

Five minutes after half-time a determined run from Mills on the right resulted in the hard-working Vyse shooting just over.

Witham went further ahead when Osude struck a fierce shot past Young in the 56th minute after receiving a pass from the left.

The visitors’ substitute Charlie Smith shot just over the bar from distance but goalkeeper Rhys Madden saw little of the action, as Saffron Walden were unable to trouble the home defence.

Witham’s third goal came in the 63rd minute. The visitors’ defence failed to deal with another corner and Jimmy Wallace scored with a simple header.

Tamplin was sent off in the 74th minute after receiving a second yellow card but Saffron Walden were unable to make their numerical superiority count.

A Stan Leech header went just over the angle of the post and crossbar in the last significant chance of the match.

It has been a remarkable survival story for Witham.

On the previous Saturday they were seconds away from automatic relegation at Romford.

They gave themselves a lifeline and proved more than capable of overcoming a highly-rated Saffron Walden side, in a memorable encounter.