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Witham chairman hits back at Canvey after abandonment
Witham Town chairman Tony Last is seething at accusations by Essex rivals Canvey Island that their pitch is dangerous.
Last was left fuming by Canvey’s decision to bring a premature end to their pre-season game at the Village Glass Stadium on Tuesday after claiming that Michael Alaile and Ellis Sands had sustained ankle injuries.
A report on the Gulls’ official website labelled the pitch as “dangerous” and boss Danny Heale blamed its condition for the injuries, saying he had removed his players at half-time to prevent further problems.
The game was poised at 0-0 after the opening 45 minutes.
However, Last said the Witham pitch was safe to play on and felt his team had been outplaying their visitors over the 45 minutes.
He said: “I think it’s just an excuse because we were giving them a football lesson.
“The referee wouldn’t have played if it was dangerous, would he?
“He apologised to me twice and gave me back £20 from his fee because he said ‘it’s not your fault Tony’.
“If Canvey had had any worries they wouldn’t have started or played two-touch on the pitch for 20 minutes in their warm-up.”
Last added: “The referee didn’t call it off, they (Canvey) just refused to play.
“It’s very frustrating.
“It grieves me because we work very hard on the pitch and most pitches are like ours at the moment.
“The pitch is fine and if it had been a league match we would have carried on.
“It made me very angry, but I didn’t have to say anything to them at the end because our fans did the talking to them for us.
“Colchester United came here and played their under-21s with some first-teamers and we’ve had Braintree, Hornchurch and Billericay with no problems.
“No-one has been hurt.”
Last admitted there was a lack of grass in the centre circle due to the recent hot weather, but felt other parts were well grassed.
However, he has now decided to cancel pre-season fixtures against Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday and Grays Athletic on Tuesday to let his groundstaff get a good spell of time working on the playing surface ahead of their first Ryman One North home game on August 13.
Last said: “I just feel it is unfair on our people at our club.
“We work ever so hard on that pitch.
“I’ve decided to cancel the other two games because word gets around and what Danny Heale has said puts doubts in people’s minds.
“I want to give our groundsman the best chance to get on the pitch.
“I feel that’s only fair to him.”
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