HULLBRIDGE Sports’ first ever Isthmian North outing did not go to plan as they suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Witham Town.

Sports went into the opening day clash looking to build on their Essex Senior League title win.

But goals from George Bugg, Marcus Bowers and Oliver Emsden ensured Darren Manning’s side would be frustrated on a historic day for the club.

Hullbridge got the encounter off to a promising start as Emmanuel Okunja won possession high up the pitch and attempted to catch Witham goalkeeper George Marsh – who was between the sticks as Sports won the Essex Senior League title on the final day of last season – off his line.

However, the midfielder’s audacious fourth minute effort strayed wide of the target.

The visitors responded with Bowers forcing Hullbridge goalkeeper Rob Budd into action with a 20-yard strike.

Bowers should have broken the deadlock two minutes later as he was played in on goal, but the former Basildon United striker snatched at the chance and fired over the crossbar.

Sports then passed up a presentable opportunity of their own as Yemi Adelani broke away down the left-hand side before pulling the ball back to Matt Baxter who, with the goal at his mercy, miscued his shot.

Witham opened the scoring with 18 minutes on the clock as Bugg beat the offside trap before calmly lobbing the ball over Budd.

Budd made an impressive save to keep out Oliver Bell’s flicked header after the midfielder connected with a long Bowers throw.

However, Witham were to put clear daylight between the two sides with two goals in the dying moments of the first half.

Bowers diverted a corner into the back of the net from close range before Emsden added his name to the scoresheet by tapping home with the final kick of the opening period.

Following a nightmare end to the first half, Hullbridge looked to make improvements and Tim Monsheju fired wide as the hosts began to enjoy more possession.

Okunja also tried his luck, but his strike went over the crossbar, while Sports custodian Budd made a fine diving save to keep Charlie Barlow’s long range attempt out.

Hullbridge substitute Nathan Scarborough sent a stoppage time strike off target as neither side could make a second half breakthrough at the Ryan’s Heating Stadium.

And Sports were left frustrated on the opening day of the campaign.