RYMAN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE NORTH: Soham Town Rangers 0 Witham Town 0
It was a case of opening-day frustration for Soham Town Rangers as they played out a goal-less draw with Witham Town on Saturday afternoon.
Confidence was high at Julius Martin Lane ahead of kick-off, owing largely to the fact that the Greens had won seven of their eight pre-season friendly fixtures.
And they certainly had enough chances to keep that positive run of form going against their visitors from Essex, but the lack of a clinical touch meant that joint bosses Robbie Nightingale and Dave Theobald had to settle for a share of the spoils.
There were only three minutes on the clock when the home side fashioned out the game’s first opportunity.
The Witham defence failed to clear their lines, leaving an alert Kieran Bailey to fire harmlessly over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.
That was the only real opening of note until the 32nd minute when goalkeeper George Lawton came to Soham’s rescue.
Witham midfielder Lewis Payne was afforded time and space inside the Soham area, yet he hesitated over his shot and by the time that he decided to pull the trigger, Lawton had made up sufficient ground to make the block.
With their side lacking a cutting edge in the final third, Soham’s management duo introduced Marcus Hall in place of the injured Salim Relizani during the interval at it should have paid off just three minutes after the restart.
It was Hall that capitalised on a mix-up involving Witham goalkeeper Liam Down and he in turn squared for Ryan Sharman. Rather than go for goal himself, Sharman unselfishly picked out Bailey, who had the goal at his mercy.
But with Down still desperately trying to regain ground, Bailey failed to hit the target.
Ross Paterson and Lloyd Groves were then both unable to work Down with headed efforts, before the latter of the Soham pair showed good defensive awareness to keep the scoreline level.
Soham midfielder Ryan Horne lost possession just inside his own half and Witham pounced, with Tim Monsheju putting Usman Adeniji clean through.
The substitute went on to round Lawton, but just when a goal looked inevitable, a sliding Groves managed to turn the low shot behind for a corner.
Yet, while Groves had made a telling impact at one end, he was unable to show the same sort of decisiveness in opposition territory as the game ticked into stoppage time.
Paterson battled his way towards the right byline, from where he drilled in a low cross. The ball eluded Down and skidded through to an unmarked Groves, but off balance, the ex-Godmanchester Rovers centre-back could not keep his shot down.
Soham: Lawton, Harris, White, Horne, Gent, Groves, Foxley, Paterson, Sharman, Bailey (Chambers-Shaw), Relizani (Hall)
Man of the Match: Ross Paterson