FOR Witton, a step too far.

They almost held on for a draw before Basford punished an error by goalkeeper Greg Hall to edge in front with time running out.

It was a painful blow to an Albion side wincing already after losing Rob Hopley to injury after Osebi Abadaki had pulled out in the warm-up.

And yet Carl Macauley’s men had taken the lead when Will Jones’ sweetly-struck shot flew past Saul Deeney, the home team’s custodian, inside 10 minutes.

With something to protect, they dug in.

Hall blocked Nat Watson’s attempt shortly afterwards before Will Booth’s free-kick drifted past a post at the other end.

However the Nottingham outfit restored parity after half an hour when Watson, a thorn in Witton’s side during meetings with Coalville last season, dispatched an unstoppable shot past Hall.

Tom Owens dithered at the other end after a long ball was flicked into his path before Hopley made way for Jordan Cobley after feeling a hamstring tighten.

The visitors survived then a scare before the break when Matt Thornhill’s header struck an upright.

Basford, seeking to rediscover the form that had made them contenders for a promotion play-offs place earlier in the campaign, gradually took control in the second-half.

Hall smothered the ball bravely at Watson’s feet after the attacker tried to dribble around him.

Martin Carruthers, Basford’s manager, was able to send on Liam Hearn as a substitute to form a three-pronged attack with Watson and Shaun Harrad that plundered close to 80 goals between them last term.

The latter headed wide when well-placed before Josh Wardle spared Hall’s blushes by blocking Thornhill’s attempt after Witton’s number one fumbled a cross.

He was not let off again, and Lewis Carr headed in from close-range after he dropped a corner curled into the box by substitute James Reid.

Albion went closest when Cesaire’s centre from the right narrowly eluded teammates inside the Basford penalty area before Watson, able to exploit space left by Albion players pushing forward in search of an equaliser, stroked in a decisive third goal.

Witton occupy 14th position in the Northern Premier League’s top-flight, six points clear of the relegation zone, ahead of a visit from back-markers North Ferriby United on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Basford | Deeney (GK), Bateman, Roma (Hearn 65), Nash, Carr, Galinski, Bell-Toxtle (Reid 52), Thornhill, Watson, Harrad, Thomas Subs not used Goodson, Tomlinson, Stokes (GK) Goals Watson 30, 89 Carr 80

Witton | Hall (GK), Gardner, Devine, Wardle, Cesaire, Booth, McKenna, Owens, Hopley (Cobley 39), Jones, Smart (Foley 73) Sub not used Abadaki Goal Jones 8 Booked Booth, Wardle

Referee Richard Eley

Attendance 264

Report by Phil Chadwick