Rough justice for Romford

Ryman Div 1N: Witham 1 Romford 0

Romford were left fuming after finishing empty handed at Spa Road.

Emeke Onwubiko’s 21st-minute goal separted the two sides, but Boro saw Jack Barry hit the crossbar and Barry, Billy Hunt and Nick Reynolds denied by fine saves from Jason Baker.

The visitors frustrations were compounded by a poor and inconsistent performance from referee Maskell, who sent off captain Barry for a second bookable offence in injury time and also showed James Ishmail a red card after the final whistle.

Buoyed by their come-from-behind win over Aveley a week earlier, Boro began well and a deep free-kick from Jamie Dicks found Barry beyond the far post, but his looping header came back off the woodwork.


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John Watson flashed a 20-yard drive wide at the other end on 12 minutes before Onwubiko had penalty claims ignored by Maskell, who spoke to the Witham striker about the ease with which he had gone to ground.

Onwubiko was frustrated again on 19 minutes when a Richard Manning header flew beyond him and wide of the far post.

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But the home side struck soon after when Watson found Onwubiko in space on the left and, after cutting in and letting fly, his shot beat Chris Clark at his near post.

Onwubiko fired another good left-footed chance over, then shot wide of the upright as Witham enjoyed a brief spell of superiority.

But Ishmail flashed a 30-yard attempt wide for Boro, before Paul Clayton became the first player booked for jumping into a tackle, although he made no contact with the Witham player.

Clark parried a well-struck shot by Sam Taylor on 42 minutes, before Ishmail was hurt in a challenge which went unpunished to the dismay of the Romford dug out.

And Boro saw Barry’s downward header, from a Lewis Francis corner, kicked out by the diving Baker on the stroke of half-time.

Barry glanced another header, from another Francis corner, beyond the far post on 55 minutes before Matt Toms saw an effort blocked.

As Boro continued to build pressure, Billy Hunt had a shot blocked and Ben Jones dragged the loose ball wide just past the hour.

And when Hunt sent a looping header goalwards from another impressive Francis delivery, Baker scrambled back to claw the ball away.

Witham substitute Shamir Mullins headed a good chance wide with his first touch at the other end, but Boro responded with a deep cross from Francis for Reynolds, whose header was tipped over by Baker.

Clayton was given a lecture by Maskell for catching a Witham defender late, when trying to find space to shoot, before Manning bundled over Reynolds and Barry headed the resulting free-kick across goal and beyond the reach of Toms.

Barry was shown a yellow card for nudging Mullins over as he looked to bear down on goal, but Boro were incensed when handball claims against Paul White were waved away.

Tom Richardson was booked for pulling a Witham shirt in the next phase of play, with Francis also cautioned for dissent.

White then had his name taken for a heavy tackle on Barry as the match entered five minutes of stoppage time.

Boro won a free-kick in the closing moments, but Clayton was penalised when the ball bounced up and caught him on the arm.

Baker tried to pull the Romford midfielder to his feet by his shorts, sparking angry exchanges in the box.

And after Barry had confronted Mullins, he was called over and shown a second yellow card, followed by red.

Mullins received the seventh card of the match for his part, before Witham cleared downfield and the final whistle went, at which point Ishmail was given his marching orders, prompting further angry scenes.

Romford: Clark, Ishmail, Dicks, Barry, Toms, Clayton, Jones (Richardson 70), Francis, Reynolds, Hunt, Hilton (Woodward 70).

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