Tributes to Dazza as Maldon & Tiptree give great battling 10 man display to overcome Witham Town
By Scott Mitchell
27th Nov 2022 | Football
Witham Town 2, Maldon & Tiptree 2
The whole of Maldon & Tiptree Football Club has been shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Darren "Dazza" Gibbons.
If you've visited Park Drive, you can't have missed Dazza. Standing by his tunnel with a coffee in hand welcoming players, fans, officials and everyone in between to the Home of Football with a huge smile and quick sense of humour.
The game was preceded with a well respected minute's applause in Dazza's memory.
The Jammers travelled to Witham Town looking to bounce back from last week's disappointing home defeat against New Salamis. There were a couple of changes in the Maldon defence, with Peter Mokwenye making his first start and a debut for Toib Adeyeni.
Both sides started brightly and it was Witham who had the first real chance of the afternoon, forcing a smart save down low to Tommy Dixon-Hodge's left hand side on 7 minutes.
10 minutes in and the Jammers were ahead. A lung busting run from Mokweyne down the Maldon left saw him receive the ball from Harvey Sayer and deliver a pin-point cross into the box. Perhaps fittingly, it found an unmarked Scott Kemp who headed home with a little help from the post. In spite of Witham goalkeeper Rhys Madden's best efforts, the goal was rightly given and The Jammers were ahead. (photo attached).
Mokwenye's crosses continued to cause Witham problems and six minutes later, another ball in found Roman Campbell who just headed wide. Campbell wasn't to be denied for long though. On 23 minutes, a free kick from Maldon's right hand side from Sayer found Campbell who got clear of a forest of players to plant a bullet header into the net for Maldon's 2nd of the afternoon. (photo attached with him running to camera).
A lengthy break in play for an injury to Town defender Michael Agboola threatened to halt the Jammers' momentum, but they picked up where they left off and Kamani McFarlane won a freekick which Harvey took and just pushed over by Madden. From the resulting corner, things got far more interesting for Maldon than anyone with a Jammers persuasion would've liked. A scuffle between Madden and Jammers defender, Joe Turpin led to a red card for Turpin for striking the Witham keeper in the face. That saw another debut, this time for defender, Danny Nesbitt, who came on as Maldon shuffled to 10 men.
Maldon made it through the 10 minutes of stoppage time unscathed to go in at halftime 2-0 up although the sending off had fired up Witham and their supporters.
Maldon started the second half, with 10 men, positively and five minutes in Madden fumbled a simple pass pushed into the Witham box. Scott Kemp was there to pounce and slotted home to put The Jammers 3-0 up.
Maldon were playing like a team with 12 men, let alone 10. Sayers continued excellent play led to him striking the foot of the Witham post but he also wasn't to be denied the goal he deserved. On the hour, the ball fell to him at the back post and he rolled home past Madden. The Jammers were now 4-0 up, 10 men and all. The large Jammers following were loving every minute of it.
Witham finally started to make use of the extra man but three quarters of the game had passed. On 65 minutes, a cross from the Witham left was smartly headed back across goal for Adam Vyse to score against his old club.
On 80 minutes, Witham were given a lifeline when the referee awarded them a penalty. The Jammers players and supporters were left feeling harshly done by but Vyse tucked home the penalty to set us for a grandstand finish.
Maldon steadied themselves and managed to repel the home side's attacks. On 90 minutes, Witham got a corner. There was a comical stoppage while the corner flag was repaired. When play eventually resumed, the corner was cleared and Sayer broke down the Witham right with a brilliant jinking run, but his effort just went over the bar when it deserved so much more.
That was the last of the chances and the full time whistle signalled the end of a wonderful Jammers team performance as they ran out 4-2 victors.
As we try and come to terms with the loss of 'Dazza', the result didn't really matter today. But at the same time, it mattered so much more.
Maldon next face Gorleston at home at Park Drive at 1pm on Saturday 26 November.
The Gorleston game is yet again one where a charity food bank collection will be held in support of Maldon Food Pantry.