Iron fans are advised to arrive a little earlier than usual
For our Vanarama National League fixture against Aldershot Town on Bank Holiday Monday, 31st August, segregation WILL be in force. However, this game will NOT be all ticket and no tickets will be available for sale prior to the match. This match is a Category A fixture and admission prices for this match can be found by clicking the 'Tickets' link above. To gain entry to the ground, visiting spectators should use the two turnstiles to the right of the Main Stand and clubhouse, numbered 7 and 8. Home spectators should use the four turnstiles to the left on the clubhouse, numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Season ticket holders should use gates 5 and 6. Those wishing to stand should pay at the appropriate turnstile, on arrival, on the day. Anyone wishing to sit must purchase their seat ticket at the turnstile when they enter the ground as there will be no cash transactions within the ground for upgrades to seats. A full colour matchday programme will be on sale inside the ground adjacent to the turnstiles. The Club are mindful of the limited parking we have available at the ground. Following the advice received from Essex Police, the Club have decided to charge for entry into the car park - with a flat rate of £2 for all users. Essex Police have also suggested that the car park be closed prior to kick-off to ensure that there is no congestion between pedestrian spectators and vehicles. No vehicles will be allowed entry into the car park within thirty minutes prior to kick-off. Those travelling to the Cressing Road Stadium for the first time can find more information on how best to travel by clicking on the 'Find Us' link above. The Clubhouse at the Cressing Road Stadium can only be accessed from inside the designated home section of the ground. Those spectators wishing to use the segregated part of the ground reserved for visiting supporters may wish to visit The Orange Tree public house some 300 yards from the ground on Cressing Road between the ground and Galley's Corner roundabout prior to entering the ground. For further information, please contact the Club on 01376 345617.
Cheek & Sparkes secure third successive win
IT WAS an inspired 75th minute substitution by Iron manager Dan Cowley in bringing on debutant winger Anthony Edgar who with his first touch of the ball set up Danny Sparkes to score the winning goal that broke the deadlock at Park View Road on Saturday.
The 24 year-old former West Ham youngster, who only signed for the Iron on Thursday, quickly seized on the ball in midfield to slide it through to Sparkes who slipped by two defenders to fire home a low left-foot shot that gave home keeper Tom King no chance.
"I was desperate to get on and play and I was lucky to be unmarked when I received the ball and Dan had already made his move to cut inside so I just played it into his path and he scored a great goal," said Edgar. "I was probably only on the pitch for 30 seconds when I made the pass."
Cowley, delighted to see his side take 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four games, felt they had to make substitutions in the second half if they were to win the game.
"We have a clear strategy that even if we are drawing a game with something like 15 minutes we will still go all out for a win," he explained. "Anthony did exactly what we wanted him to do and even before that second goal I felt we were well in control.
"A few minutes earlier both Dan and Remi Clerima created shooting chances in their area and both were unlucky to see their efforts charged down by some panic defending," he continued. "I always felt we were the stronger side throughout but as everyone knows it's a really hard league and to come places like this you have to have 100 per cent commitment from every player and we certainly did in this game."
The Iron, who were missing the injured Simeon Akinola, could have been two goals up within the first three minutes with first Kenny Davis seeing his angled shot deflected away by keeper King's leg and then Taylor Miles having his goal-bound shot hooked behind for a corner by a defender.
But the Iron fell behind on five minutes from the home side's first real attack and it was a piece of real Sunday morning park defending when hesitation between defender Mark Phillips and keeper Will Norris, who both appear to have left the ball to one another, allowed Afolabi Obafemi to slip in between and poke the ball into the net.
"It was a terrible goal to give away and it should have been dealt with much better," declared Cowley. "Early on we didn't really cope with their long, high balls into the heart of our defence and went far too deep but we sorted it out at half time and they couldn't create the same threat in the second half.
"I was pleased the way the players responded to that goal and thankfully we equalised on 14 minutes again after we had already missed out on a couple of chances," he added. "We still need to be far more clinical in front of goal."
The Iron equaliser came from Michael Cheek who, having the ball slipped across to him from Matt Paine on the edge of the box, cleverly side-stepped his marker to drive a low shot into the far corner of the net.
Cheek, who had his best game since joining the Iron during the summer, said: "I was so pleased to get my first goal for the club - it's quite a weight of my mind as I have been trying hard to score."
He went on: "Like any goal scorer once you find the net then it naturally gives you confidence. I have found the step up to this level quite hard but the manager and the other players have been tremendously helpful.
"I am enjoying it, it's a bigger stage and the football at this level is much quicker than in the Conference South last season but I feel I am now adjusting to it, even the greater pressure you get constantly from the other side in every game," he added.
Cheek should have been given a clear penalty on 25 minutes when he went through and round keeper King, who did catch him with a hand, but the Iron striker showed his honesty by somehow keeping on his feet when he was clearly fouled. Unfortunately referee Derek Eaton waved Iron appeals and when Cheek did manage to get the ball back into the area it was booted clear by a defender.
The Iron lost full-back Sam Habergham with a nasty cut to his head just before half time but he did return complete with an England-Terry Butcher styled head bandage and was able to complete the game.
After a fairly even first half the second period saw the Iron take more control of the game as the half progressed and several goal scoring chances went begging but once Cowley had made his inspired substitution and Sparkes scored it was clear there was only going to be one winner.
The Iron, moving up to ninth in the table with this win, now face Aldershot at home on Bank Holiday Monday and Cowley is eagerly looking forward to it adding: "It's going to be another tough game even though they are a side down near the bottom and we'll be fully prepared for it - winning is what this game is all about and we'll be looking to continue out current form."
Braintree Town: Norris; Clerima, Phillips, Dallison, Habergham; Woodyard, Davis (Chiedozie 69), Paine, Miles (Isaac 54); Cheek (Edgar 75), Sparkes. Unused subs: Brundle, Marks. Attendance 521.
So, just a reminder that, next up for Braintree Town, is the visit of Aldershot Town tomorrow (Bank Holiday Monday) afternoon, with kick-off at 3pm.
Academy sees progression into first team squad
The Club are pleased to announce that six members of our Academy have signed National League forms.
Manager Danny Cowley said: "Luke Mallet, Matt Baxter, Alfie Walker, Michael Folkes, Abu Soluku and James Makanjuola have all impressed during pre season and deserve this opportunity. It is important for these boys to use this as a springboard to push on and continue to develop, physically, technically and tactically.
"Since we have come to the club we have been working very closely with the Academy. Long-term, for us to be able to develop young players capable of playing in the first team will be vital to our progress as a club. We already have some good young players at the club with the likes of Joe Maybanks and George Pullen. These two, are very much role models for our next group of young players and prove that there is a pathway from the Academy to the First Team if you are willing to work hard and are keen to learn and develop both as a player and a person.
"We look forward to seeing these boys and the rest of the Academy players progress under both Mark Sansom & Ross McPherson over the coming months."
Win over Southport makes it seven points from nine
THE Iron maintained their recent improvement and deservedly won an entertaining game at the Avanti Stadium on Saturday thanks to a well struck 23rd minute goal from in-form winger Dan Sparkes.
With the intense heat taking its toll on players from both sides it was the Iron who always had that little bit extra throughout their whole side where the back line of Remy Clerima, Mark Phillips, on-loanee Tom Dallison and Sam Harbergham were again outstanding.
But clearly though the Iron's man of the match was midfielder Alex Woodyard who excelled in all areas and was instrumental in repeatedly breaking down the visitors' attacks and is fast proving to be a popular signing by fans.
The win left Iron boss Dan Cowley delighted at another three points but he was disappointed with his side's start adding: "I thought we were slow out of the blocks really and quite lethargic in the first 15 to 20 minutes or so.
"We didn't seem to have the same intensity in our play as we did in the previous two games and that was disappointing," he declared. "But the goal helped us and we then began to cause more problems for them as we pushed forwards.
"They had two half chances to equalise in the second half but that was their sum total at direct efforts in the 90 minutes and we should have done better in erasing them both in the built-ups," he continued. "But we defended well throughout and the conditions were obviously hard and you have to remember we have a comparatively young side and some are still learning at this level because you are always up against some big, strong and experienced full-time players."
He went on: "We knew we had to bring some fresh legs on in the second half and all three who did come on gave us the renewed impetus which was wanted at that stage.
"We now have a good week's break from games to get over tiredness and any knocks before we have two hard games, away to Welling on Saturday and at home to an improving Aldershot on the Monday," he added. "Although this was only a 1-0 win I don't mind we didn't score more because goals will come and we've picked up three more points which is what mattered."
The Iron now move up to 13th in the table and home debutant Dallison, on a month's loan from Brighton, is eagerly looking forward to the next games.
The Romford-born central defender said after this win: "It's been a great start for me with two wins and I'm really enjoying because they are a great bunch of lads and the team spirit is tremendous.
"It's obviously far more physical than playing at U21 level at Brighton and I had 12 games on loan at Dartford at the end of last season at this level so I know what to expect," he said. "But playing alongside someone as experienced as Mark Phillips is tremendous because he talks to me all the time, reminds of my positional play and I think we have jelled quickly as a central unit.
"You have to be both mentally and physically strong at this level and I'm looking forward to us continuing our current form," he added.
From the outset of this game the Iron may not have started so commandingly as before but they were always the better side thanks to dominating the midfield where Woodyard, Kenny Davis and Matt Paine kept it well under control.
The goal of the game in the 23rd minute came from a long kick out by keeper Will Norris which on the edge of the visitors' area Simeon Akinola out jumped his marker to head the ball back down across to the on-rushing Sparkes who coolly with his now traditional left-foot volley beat keeper Andy Coughlin with his first-time effort.
The visitors did improve slightly early in the second half as players from both sides wilted under the heat and Andrai Jones had a rare opening for a goal when a left wing cross dropped to his feel but he blasted the ball high over the bar.
At the other end Akinola was twice brutally chopped down in the area off the ball as the Iron moved forward but referee Constantine Hatzidakis, who had an extremely poor game, ignored both appeals yet was in a good position to see both.
Mr Hatzidakis somehow though inconceivably managed to book five Southport and three Iron players in a game in which there wasn't a bad tackle all afternoon leaving both managers mystified at his actions.
But late on the Iron, with fresh legs through substitutions, continued to have their grip on the game and desperately wanted that second goal to give them more of a cushion lead but in the end the heat was the real winner.
Braintree Town: Norris; Clerima, Phillips, Dallison, Habergham; Davis (Issac 70), Woodyard, Paine, Sparkes; Akinola (Miles 80), Chiedozie (76). Unused subs: Brundle, Marks. Attendance: 504.
Next up for the Iron is the short visit to Kent this coming Saturday, 29th August, to take on Welling Utd, kick off 3pm.
Both sets of fans can access all parts of the ground on Tuesday
For our Vanarama National League fixture against Southport on Saturday, 22nd August, segregation WILL NOT be in force. This game will NOT be all ticket and no tickets will be available for sale prior to the match. This match is a Category B fixture and admission prices for this match can be found by clicking the 'Tickets' link above. To gain entry to the ground, all spectators should use the four turnstiles to the left on the clubhouse, numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Season ticket holders should use gates 5 and 6. Those wishing to stand should pay at the appropriate turnstile, on arrival, on the day. Anyone wishing to sit must purchase their seat ticket at the turnstile when they enter the ground as there will be no cash transactions within the ground for upgrades to seats. A full colour matchday programme will be on sale inside the ground adjacent to the turnstiles. The Club are mindful of the limited parking we have available at the ground. Following the advice received from Essex Police, the Club have decided to charge for entry into the car park - with a flat rate of £2 for all users. Essex Police have also suggested that the car park be closed prior to kick-off to ensure that there is no congestion between pedestrian spectators and vehicles. No vehicles will be allowed entry into the car park within thirty minutes prior to kick-off. Those travelling to the Cressing Road Stadium for the first time can find more information on how best to travel by clicking on the 'Find Us' link above. The Clubhouse at the Cressing Road Stadium will be open to all spectators. For further information, please contact the Club on 01376 345617.
Sparkes and Chiedozie sink Bromley
Iron won their first Vanarama National League game of the season with an impressive all round display at the Hayes Lane Stadium on Tuesday evening. Despite taking a two-goal lead, Braintree still had to survive an edgy final 20 minutes after the home side, much against the run of play, pulled a goal back.
In truth the Iron had completely dominated and outplayed the home side up until then and they should on clear goal scoring chances alone been three or four goals to the good by the time the home side scored.
Iron manager Dan Cowley had worked tirelessly since Saturday's home draw against Tranmere Rovers to bring in a couple of players on loan to beef up his side, particularly in the centre of defence when the experienced Matt Fry was stretchered off.
So in came 19 year-old ex-Arsenal youngster Tom Dallison from Brighton to replace Fry while up front in came young Jordan Chiedozie from Cambridge United, both on one month's loan.
Dallison made an impressive debut alongside Mark Phillips in the heart of the defence while Chiedozie couldn't have had a more rewarding start, scoring with an fantastic overhead kick goal three minutes after the interval for what turned out to the Iron's winning goal.
"I was desperate to play and I'm always desperate to score goals so to find the net for the team in my first game was tremendous," said the 21 year-old. "I knew I would tire as the game went on because I haven't played much lately."
Cowley who knows all about Chiedozie having had him at Concord Rangers last season before his transfer to full-time football at Cambridge United, said: "I knew he would give us a new dimension in attack and he can score goals and he did exactly both on the night.
"I knew he wouldn't last the whole game which is why I substituted on the hour but he will be ready to go again at home to Southport on Saturday.
The problem for the Iron was that once Chiedozie went off they lost their way a little and with it the free-flowing, up-tempo rhythm game that had forced the home side into making all kinds of errors as the Iron took the game to them and in reality they should have been well ahead and the game over as a contest by the time they conceded a goal.
Main culprit on the night was Simeon Akinola who had three gilt-edge first half chances to have found the net but each time dithered on the ball too long while Chiedozie did likewise on 30 minutes and then skipper Kenny Davies was foiled by the legs of keeper Alan Julian when clean through on goal as the Iron look to rout the home side.
The Iron had deservedly taken the lead on 22 minutes when Chiedozie twice cut in from the right wing and Davis saw his first effort knocked down but the second was picked up at the far post by Danny Sparkes who slid the ball home past the stranded Julian.
In the home side's first attack on the Iron goal on 40 minutes saw Bradley Goldberg strike the outside of the foot of the Iron post which was really a long range speculative shot.
The Iron had the best possible second half start by scoring again when from a well worked move down the left the ball was crossed and first Davis saw his shot come back of the crossbar but the athletic Chiedozie was quickest to react and with a superb overhead kick scored with a shot into the top corner of the net.
His game was over in 59 minutes when he was replaced by Chez Isaac and a minute later Akinola should had sealed victory for the Iron when he turned his marker beautifully in the area only to put his shot over the bar.
But it looked to possibly go all wrong for the Iron on 67 minutes when a ball to the far post allowed Moses Ademola to escape the marking of Sam Habergham and he cooly strode through to slide the ball past keeper Will Norris.
As in any game a goal gives a side fresh impetus and confidence and for the final minutes the home side forced the Iron into retreat and only some excellently last-gasp defending, notably form Matt Paine and Alex Woodyard, plus wayward home shooting saw the Iron home and dry.
A minute from time Akinola's frustrating night was complete when after good work down right by Isaac's his low cross fell straight to Akinola's feet and unmarked he shot straight at the keeper when it looked so much easier to score. The win though please Cowley who said: "Overall I was pleased with our game plan which worked and we completely controlled the game for practically over three-quarters of it.
"But we need to learn to manage things better than we did in those last 20 minutes and not become so anxious or nervous just because we conceded a goal," he continued. "So that's something we will also work on but I was pleased with the overall display, the gritty performances of the players and it's important to get that first win under our belts and that gives players confidence too."
He added: "The two new lads did make a good impact on the game and we now get together and prepare properly for Southport's visit on Saturday."
Braintree Town: Norris; Clerima, Dallison, Phillips, Habergham; Woodyard, Davis, Paine, Sparkes (Marks 75); Akinola (Brundle 94), Chiedozie (Isaac 59). Unused subs: Miles, Cheek. Attendance: 755.
Next up for the Iron is at home to Southport on Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Matt Fry latest, plus two new loan signings
Danny Cowley has added two players to his squad prior to tonight's National League trip to Bromley, one as cover for the injured Matt Fry. After Matt Fry was stretchered off the pitch in the dying moments of the Tranmere Rovers game Saturday, I think we all feared the worst. There looks to be some ligament damage to his knee, the extent of this we will not know until the inflammation settles down. However, we are hoping that it is not as bad as we first feared. We are keeping everything crossed as Matt has made a really good start to his Braintree Town career.
As a direct consequence of this, the Club are pleased to announce the loan signing of Tom Dallison from Brighton Hove Albion. Tom is a talented centre half, who enjoyed a fantastic football education at Arsenal before signing a two-year deal of Brighton Hove Albion.
Manager Danny Cowley said: "Tom has already gained experience last year playing in the conference and has enjoyed a really successful preseason playing regularly for Brighton's first team. He's a good size, enjoys defending but is also composed on the ball. Tom is on an upward curve and this is a very important season in his development. We look forward to working with him and think we will be good for each other."
The Iron manager has also agreed to take Jordan Chiedozie from Cambridge United on a short term loan. A striker who come up through the ranks at Bournemouth FC, Jordan fell out of professional football at the end of the 2013/14 season. He was immediately signed by Danny at Concord Rangers and, after an excellent start to the season - scoring eight goals in as many games, he signed an 18 month contract at Cambridge United FC.
Danny said: "Jordan is someone that I know well. He made an instant impact when he was with me at Concord Rangers. Although he was irreplaceable to us at the time, we were very pleased when he got his much deserved move to Cambridge United. He has pace, excellent movement and is as brave as they come. Most importantly he is forward who is desperate to score goals, every time he steps on to the pitch. Jordan comes to us, frustrated at a lack of game time and desperate to play. I like Jordan when he is in this place, focused and with a point to prove!"
Game finishes goal-less
THE Iron finally picked up their first point of the season with this well deserved draw at the Avanti Stadium on Saturday and but for a little more concentration in front of goal particularly in the first half they could have ended up winning.
The last time Rovers came to town was back in November 2012 when as Football League Division One leaders they dumped the Iron out of the FA Cup 3-0 but now the Merseysiders find themselves down in the lower echelons of non-league and it has to be said on this display they were a shadow of their former self.
For the Iron, desperate to start picking up points this season after two opening defeats, there was a price to pay for their point too because two minutes from time central defender Matt Fry was stretchered off with a bad leg injury.
It took the medical team six minutes to safely remove him from the pitch and he was taken immediately to hospital under sedation and with paramedics administering gas and air to him.
Iron manager Dan Cowley admitted the incident took the gloss of what he felt was a fine all round performance from his players against a team hot favourites to go straight back to the Football League.
"It was a disappointment for it to end in this way and we can only wait and see how bad the injury is to Matt," he said. "I think we more than matched them throughout and again we need to apply that bit more pressure in front of their goal.
"After our two opening defeats I think we showed a great deal more substance and character and it's a good foundation on which to now build even further," he continued. "I think the players as a group look more mature but we still need to work harder at making our counter attacks much quicker more because when we did in this game it caused them all kinds of problem."
He went on: "We made two changes from the last game with Mark Phillips coming in for his debut in the centre of defence and Matt Paine playing in front of the back four for his first start of the season and I have to say they both made a huge difference to our set-up and the way we played.
"I felt we were much the stronger in the first half, created more than they did and early in the second half when they did have a spell of heavy pressure for a short time we defended excellently," he said. "Up front Simeon (Akinola) caused them all kinds of problems too.
"He is still young and learning and is desperately keen to continued to learn and I think he can develop into one of the best players in the whole league because he is that good and has that potential," he added.
On his debut Phillips said afterwards: "I have been itching to get a start and I am pleased the way it went and with our experience both Matt and I quickly established a good relationship and it was a pity that he suffered a bad injury through what seem a normal hard tackle on the half way line.
"It was nice to keep a clean sheet at the back on my debut and I think with the experience we have now in the side along with exciting youngsters like Simeon and Dan Sparkes we are developing into a good, close-knit unit," he added. "I think we can now build on this result but we all know it's a tough league and you have to be consistent."
The point gained lifts the Iron out of the bottom four and Colwey believes they have the right composition of the squad to go on further adding: "We know we're not there yet but I am always confident in my own ability that we will progress - I am a winner at the end of the day and I know we will have some ups and downs but we will get up to that 50 point target as soon as we can."
The Iron certainly looked the better of the two sides on the day with Akinola going close as early as the 10 minute when he skipped completely clear of the defence only try to lob keeper Scott Davies but he shot dipped too late over the bar.
Sparkes, clearly a revelation this season, also caused problems with his wing play and on 20 minutes almost opened the scoring with a shot from outside the area which again flew close over the bar.
Twice before the break Akinola set off on his familiar dinky runs only to see his final efforts charged down by defenders and finally cleared.
The early part of the second half saw the visitors finally apply some pressure to the Iron backline of Remy Clerima (at right-back in place of the suspended Mitch Brundle), Fry, Phillips and left-back Sam Habergham but they were outstanding on the day coping all with what was sent their way.
On the hour Akinola was hauled down in the area and despite home players' pleas referee John Brooks ignored penalty appeals but three minutes later Akinola was again unfairly bundled off the ball outside the area but the Iron wasted their resultant free-kick.
On 74 minutes Akinola almost broke the deadlock with a fine header from an Alex Woodyard right wing cross and then late into the added on injury time the visitors' Adam Mekki nearly snatched a late winner with a low first time shot which keeper Will Norris held.
Immediately the ball was down the other end and Marks was clear on goal but his tremendous first time right-foot shoot from out on the right was brilliantly turned around the post by Davies for a corner.
Perhaps at that late stage it would have been unfair for either side to have taken all three points on the day when a draw was about the right result.
The Iron now look to Tuesday evening when they go to Kent neighbours Bromley for another league match, kick off 7 45pm. Braintree Town: Norris; Clerima, Fry (Walker 91), Phillips, Habergham; Isaac (Miles 80), Davis, Woodyard, Paine; Sparkes (Marks 62); Akinola. Unused subs: Cheek, Maybanks. Attendance: 838.
Second penalty undoes deflected equaliser
Braintree Town slipped to their second National League defeat of the season, going down 3-1 at home to visitors Lincoln City on Tuesday evening. Iron were the better of the two sides during an absorbing first half, but had to rely on a fine Will Norris save to deny what looked to be a soft penalty from Alan Power after Jon Nolan tumbled in the home 18 yard box. Matt Rhead put the visitors ahead two minutes after the re-start, but a deflected free-kick from Sim Akinola saw Iron level mid-way through the half. However a second penalty for the visitors was tucked into the bottom right corner by Rhead after Brundle tangled with the Lincoln forward in the box. With Brundle dismissed for the challenge, Iron were down to ten men and a fine 30-yard drive from Craig Stanley with ten minutes gave the visitors a slightly flattering final scoreline. Next up for Iron is the visit of Tranmere Rovers this coming Saurday, with kick-off at 3pm.
Both sets of fans can access all parts of the ground on Tuesday
For our Vanarama National League fixture against Lincoln City on Tuesday, 11th August, segregation WILL NOT be in force. This game will NOT be all ticket and no tickets will be available for sale prior to the match. This match is a Category B fixture and admission prices for this match can be found by clicking the 'Tickets' link above. To gain entry to the ground, all spectators should use the four turnstiles to the left on the clubhouse, numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Season ticket holders should use gates 5 and 6. Those wishing to stand should pay at the appropriate turnstile, on arrival, on the day. Anyone wishing to sit must purchase their seat ticket at the turnstile when they enter the ground as there will be no cash transactions within the ground for upgrades to seats. A full colour matchday programme will be on sale inside the ground adjacent to the turnstiles. The Club are mindful of the limited parking we have available at the ground. Following the advice received from Essex Police, the Club have decided to charge for entry into the car park - with a flat rate of £2 for all users. Essex Police have also suggested that the car park be closed prior to kick-off to ensure that there is no congestion between pedestrian spectators and vehicles. No vehicles will be allowed entry into the car park within thirty minutes prior to kick-off. Those travelling to the Cressing Road Stadium for the first time can find more information on how best to travel by clicking on the 'Find Us' link above. The Clubhouse at the Cressing Road Stadium will be open to all spectators. For further information, please contact the Club on 01376 345617.
Iron fans are advised to arrive a little earlier than usual
For our Vanarama National League fixture against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, 15th August, segregation WILL be in force. However, this game will NOT be all ticket and no tickets will be available for sale prior to the match. This match is a Category A fixture and admission prices for this match can be found by clicking the 'Tickets' link above. To gain entry to the ground, visiting spectators should use the two turnstiles to the right of the Main Stand and clubhouse, numbered 7 and 8. Home spectators should use the four turnstiles to the left on the clubhouse, numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Season ticket holders should use gates 5 and 6. Those wishing to stand should pay at the appropriate turnstile, on arrival, on the day. Anyone wishing to sit must purchase their seat ticket at the turnstile when they enter the ground as there will be no cash transactions within the ground for upgrades to seats. A full colour matchday programme will be on sale inside the ground adjacent to the turnstiles. The Club are mindful of the limited parking we have available at the ground. Following the advice received from Essex Police, the Club have decided to charge for entry into the car park - with a flat rate of £2 for all users. Essex Police have also suggested that the car park be closed prior to kick-off to ensure that there is no congestion between pedestrian spectators and vehicles. No vehicles will be allowed entry into the car park within thirty minutes prior to kick-off. Those travelling to the Cressing Road Stadium for the first time can find more information on how best to travel by clicking on the 'Find Us' link above. The Clubhouse at the Cressing Road Stadium can only be accessed from inside the designated home section of the ground. Those spectators wishing to use the segregated part of the ground reserved for visiting supporters may wish to visit The Orange Tree public house some 300 yards from the ground on Cressing Road between the ground and Galley's Corner roundabout prior to entering the ground. For further information, please contact the Club on 01376 345617.
Better side for last hour, early goal costs dear
For their fifth consecutive season's opening game at the top non-league level the Iron left the Lookers Vauxhall Stadium on Saturday without a win despite dominating the second half and scorning three decent goal scoring chances.
After suffering a five hour plus delayed journey north because of holiday traffic the Iron then had the worse possible start going behind after only four minutes when dreadful defending allowed home debutant full-back Johnny Hunt to waltz pass three defenders to drive the ball low into the far corner of the net leaving Iron keeper Will Norris stranded.
It was a bitter, early blow to the Iron players' confidence and it showed for the first half hour as they were frequently pulled to pieces in defence, mainly all caused to the crafty experience of tall home striker Craig Hobson.
It also left new Iron manager Danny Cowley disappointed who admitted to concede such a poor goal within the few first few minutes was terrible and said it took his side a good half hour to then find their feet.
"It was a collective thing as there were three small errors by three individuals and it was a terrible thing from our point of view at so early in the game," he explained. "Everyone knows that if you do that at this level then you'll get punished and won't win football games.
"But we recovered well as the first half progressed and full credit to the players they stuck to their task and the longer the game went on the more we were in control," he continued. "I was pleased with the way our defence coped with their attack, particularly during that difficult first period and I thought we looked good in midfield and again as the game developed we controlled most of the pitch."
He added: "Despite all our possession and dominating the second half we still need to have more of a threat in attack and that is something we are currently working because you have to score goals to win matches and in this game we did create the chances - yet we have to threaten the opposition goal more than we did overall in this game."
Disappointed with the result he added: "To come a long way here in our first competitive game and do so well but lose basically through an early mistake that in the end cost us is difficult to take particularly as we worked so hard for most of the 90 minutes."
Iron's best chance of an equaliser came on the hour when Danny Sparkes played a simple one-two with Chez Issac but with the winger clear on goal it took a tremendous reaction save from keeper Jon Worsnop to force the ball away at the last moment.
Sparkes said afterwards: "I should have scored because it was a great through ball from Chez but credit to the keeper he went to ground and made himself bigger so it was difficult to squeeze the ball pass him - on another day I think I would have definitely scored.
"It was disappointing to come away empty-handed particularly after all the pressure we put on them in the second half and the chances we created," he continued. "But I think we will do well this season because all the new players have bedded in well, we are tight unit and the new manager has created a new atmosphere about the place too."
The Iron, who started with seven of last season's side, were in the latter stages of this game playing effectively with five forwards following the introduction of substitutes Michael Cheek (69 minutes) and Sean Marks (80) but despite all this late pressure which clearly unsettled the home side they were unable to score that vital equaliser.
In the first half the Iron were literally playing with a sole striker in Simeon Akinola and despite being well shackled by the home defence twice in each half he dribbled his way through and almost found the net.
As the Iron dominated in the second half both Kenny Davis and Issac saw shots on goal narrowly miss their target and on 76 minutes the Iron should have been awarded a penalty when Cheek was blatantly hauled down in the box en route to goal by Craig Mahon.
But referee Ollie Yates, who admittedly was not in a good position at the time, waved played on while Cheek rightly appealed to the assistant linesman on that side who should have signalled a spot kick for the crude foul.
"I'm not going to blame referees or officials over whether they should award penalties or not because you just have to get on with the job at the end of the day," said Cowley. "I can't criticise our players effort and commitment and now we look ahead to the home game with Lincoln on Tuesday.
Braintree Town: Norris; Brundle (Walker 86), Clerima, Fry, Habergham; Miles Cheek 69), Davis, Woodyard (Marks 80), Isaac; Akinola, Sparks. Unused subs: Paine, Phillips. Attendance: 2,256.
Braintree Town's next game is at home to Lincoln City on Tuesday, kick off 7 45pm.
Additions on and off the pitch
The Club are pleased to announce the additions of Alex Woodyard & Mark Phillips to the squad. Danny Cowley said: "We have been monitoring Alex's situation ever since we come to the Club. He came in and trained with us at the beginning of pre season before going to Leyton Orient on trial. We felt it was the right thing for Alex to explore that opportunity and the potential of full time professional football. As soon as we knew that wasn't an option we moved quickly to bring him into the Club. Alex is on an upward curve and deservedly gained recognition for his progress by being selected for the England C team. He will be a fantastic signing for us and gives us real competition for places in that area.
"Mark Phillips is an experienced centre half who has bags of Football League experience. He's a strong character, with leadership qualities and we will benefit from his voice on the pitch. It is a situation that we have been aware of for some time and are really pleased to get it over the line. The deal represents really good business for the club."
Manager Danny Cowley has strengthened his management team with Glen Johnson joining as goalkeeper coach. Glen has a wealth of experience coaching both in this country & across two other continents. He was goalkeeper coach at Chelmsford City before going out to America where he coached in the Central Conference league. From there he went to India & Pune FC who play in the Indian I League as well as the Asian Champions League. His time abroad has given him a valuable insight into different coaching methods & cultures. Glen joins with the remit of developing the goalkeeper provision throughout the club. As well as coaching the first team goalkeepers, he will work with the academy and also Braintree Town youth teams in developing the quality of coaching that we offer our young goalkeepers. He is an excellent addition & will further improve the environment we can offer the players.
Carvalho settles in eight minutes from time
Braintree Town made the journey over the Dartford bridge to visit National League South championship favourites Ebbsfleet United on Saturday. Iron completed their pre-season unbeaten with a 20-yard strike from Wilson Carvalho securing the single-goal victory. It was a certainly match played with a competitive edge, with Iron players struggling to deal with a couple of 'agricultural' challenges during the first half. That said, Dan Sparkes tested the home side early on, while Adam Cunnington crashed a crisp effort against the crossbar for the home side. After the break Braintree took control of the game and finally scored the goal their dominance deserved when Carvalho let fly eight minutes from time.
After the game Iron Manager Danny Cowley was pleased: "It's been a competitive workout from both sides. We struggled to take the initiative first half and I learnt a lot from those 45 minutes. I made a few comments to the lads at the break - which they took on board - and we were better second half. It was a good strike from Wilson, who certainly has something about him. We'll work hard next week as we focus on getting the season underway."
The Braintree side (with thanks to Jon Weaver) was as follows: Will Norris, Remy Clerima, Sam Habergham, Alex Woodyard, Matt Paine (sub Taylor Miles 46 mins), Matt Fry, Matt Brundle (sub Jeremy Walker 65 mins), Kenny Davis, Jordan Cox (sub Michael Cheek 55 mins), Simeon Akinola (sub Wilson Carvalho 73 mins - Carvalho was then subbed by Austin Lipman 90 mins), Dan Sparkes (sub Joe Maybanks 83 mins. Unused sub: Nathan McDonald. Attendance 493.
Next up for Iron is the opening National League fixture this coming Saturday, 8th August, at Chester, with kick-off at 3pm.
Get yours from THursday evening onwards!
Supporters are advised that season tickets will be available for collection on Thursday, 30th July, evening from 8pm-9.30pm. They will also be available for collection next Tuesday, 4th August, and next Thursday, 6th August, evening from 8pm-9.30pm. Those supporters who are unable to collect their season tickets before the first match at home to Lincoln City on Tuesday, 11th August will be available to collect their season ticket from gates 5 & 6 from 6.30pm that night. Those supporters wishing to secure one of the limited number of car park season tickets will also be able to purchase these tickets on the dates above.
David Ward takes up the gauntlet!
The Club are pleased to announce that Iron stalwart David Ward has kindly taken up the role of Club Press Officer for the coming season. David is a well known face to many at Cressing Road having both played and managed the Club over the years. His professional experience will help the Club improve it press and public relations and we thank David for his help and support.
Glenn & Paul join the team
Iron Manager Danny Cowley was pleased to announce the appointments of Glenn Skingsley as our Perfomance Analyst and Paul Barnes who joins our medical team and will work alongside Steve Gracey.
Danny Cowley said: "This will certainly add to the support network available and help us to further improve the environment for the players. From our point of view, you cannot have enough good people around and both Glenn and Paul will add to the provision in their designated areas."
"We like to do a lot of anaylsis on both our own and opposition teams. We feel that this provides us with the necessary information to make intelligent decisions about team selection and team organisation. Video analysis and statistical data are excellent tools when providing feedback to the players about individual and team performance. Glenn has been working tirelessly behind the scenes with different software to find a suitable analysis tool for us to use. He has spent numerous hours editing our pre season games so that both players and management staff can access a breakdown of the different elements of the game. We will also use this software to analyse opposition's strengths and weaknesses so that we can share it with the players and look to find ways of outwitting our upcoming opponents."
"Paul Barnes comes in to a massively overstretched 'medical team'. Steve Gracey has been overworked trying to manage the day to day issues that arise during a challenging pre season. Paul will come in and offer both assistance and expertise. He has just completed a Sports Therapy degree in Birmingham and is now embarking on a Physiotherapy Masters at the University of Essex. He has worked at both non league level with Rushall Olympic FC and more recently with Wolverhampton Wanderers Academy and U21's teams. He has a clear vision and many ideas in relation to rehabilitation, player preparation and recovery that will further improve the medical provision available. Accompanied with this additional support we also have access to Ross Poyton on a consultancy basis, who has already been working with Charlie Strutton, and others away from the training ground. It is another area that we have been able to make an increase in. With a small squad we need everyone fit and contributing and these additions to the medical team will help us to work towards this objective."
Fortuitous friendly victory over Dagenham & Redbridge
Iron snatched a late, late winning goal literally in the final few seconds of this lively pre-season friendly at Cressing Road on Tuesday evening to beat Football League Two visitors Dagenham & Redbridge.
It all came from a superb right wing free-kick by Dan Sparkes that saw the ball drop into the heart of the visitors' penalty area where young Jordan Cox was quickest to the ball to slid it into the net.
The Iron, who had gone behind on 34 minutes, had equalised on 81 minutes when again Sparkes had set up the goal from a right wing corner sending over a high cross into the area where substitute Remi Clerima rose above everybody to head home a fine goal.
Although perhaps a little fortuitous to have won the game, it still left a smile on manager Dan Cowley's face who felt his part-time players more than match their full-time opponents and again had showed great resilience and character, particularly after going a goal down.
"I felt we really started the stronger and were on top so much so that they had to change their system to try and cope with us," he said. "That says a great deal about our high tempo game and how we attacked them and then to force a Football League side to have to change things around and the way they were playing."
He went on: "Once they had scored the opening goal we lost a bit of our momentum and between the 30th and 60th minute of the game they were in control and we were not so good.
"But the subs we brought on did make a big impact on the game and really at the end I think we looked the fitter and better side," he continued. "It's nice to win any game even in the final seconds and I felt we deserved it because we always looked the more dangerous in front of goal throughout the game.
"The goal we did concede, although it was down to an individual mistake at the end, was really started further down the pitch and we should have dealt with their attack before it had reached our area," he explained. "But these games are all about learning and coping better when the real action starts on league opening day."
It was much against the run of play that the Daggers took the lead when a defensive error allowed Christian Doidge to slip by the stranded Iron keeper Will Norris to slide the ball in from an acute angle.
Fielding their first team the Daggers certainly struggled to handle the Iron attack early on when both Simoen Akinola and Taylor Miles both went close to scoring.
The Iron lost striker Sean Marks on 40 minutes with a foot injury and he was replaced by Michael Cheek and almost on half time they nearly equalised but Akinola volley was charged down and cleared.
Just past the hour the Iron made a double substitution with Matt Paine replaced by Remi Clerima and Mitch Brundle replaced by Jeremy Walker and on 69 minutes Iron made another double substitution with Cox replacing Akinola and Anthony Edgar replacing Chez Issac. These changes all helped galvanise the side into again pressuring the visitors' rearguard.
But it took a fine save from Norris to keep his side in the game when he denied Doidge, who had escaped free of the defence for a one-on-one, going down at the striker's feet to clear the danger.
At the other end skipper Kenny Davis saw his low, hard shot saved and then Cox had a first-time effort scrambled away for a corner as the Iron looked for goals.
On 80 minutes Joe Maybanks replaced Davis and with more fresh legs in the side the Iron pushed for an equaliser which came a minute later before Cox finally snatched that last-gasp winner.
Cowley added: "I am really pleased with the attitude and commitment of all the players both in training and our games so far but we know it's going to be a tough season and the players are looking fit and keen to get started."
Next up for the Iron is this Saturday, 1st August, with a final pre-season friendly away at National League South side Ebbsfleet United, with kick-off at 3pm.
Braintree v Braintree!
We've tried to secure local opposition at very short notice without success. We'd like to thank our neighbouring clubs who have tried to help but a variety of circumstances have left that without success. Danny has now decided to utilise the full squad, plus a couple of our academy lads, to play a full ninety minute match that will be between two balanced Braintree XIs at Cressing Road. Admission will be free and kick-off for this match has been provisionally arranged for 1pm, subject to the availability of a local referee. More news when I have it!
Rain washes out latest match
This afternoon's pre-season friendly at Lowestoft Town has been postponed. Following heavy rain throughout most of yesterday and last night, the Suffolk club advised that their pitch was waterlogged. Next up for Iron is a return to Cressing Road to welcome Dagenham & Redbridge this coming Tuesday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Rain causing problems at Ram Meadow
This evening's pre-season friendly at Bury Town has been postponed. Following heavy rain throughout most of the day, combined with the forecast heavy rain for the next twelve hours, the pitch at Ram Meadow was unlikely to be fit enough for both teams to benefit from. Next up for Iron is a trip to Lowestoft Town tomorrow afternoon, with kick-off at 3pm.
Goals aplenty at Scraley Road
An Iron XI made the short journey to visit Ryman League Division One (North) side Heybridge Swifts and came home winners by seven goals to two. A Dan Sparkes tenth minute penalty saw Braintree take an early lead and this was followed up three minutes later with a fine finish from Sim Akinola. Michael Cheek made it 3-0 just before the half hour and another well executed finish from skipper Kenny Davis moments before the interval saw Braintree turn around four goals to the good. The second half saw Iron continue to press and score goals. Cheek added his second on 51 minutes and trialist James McQuilkin made it 6-0 four minutes later. A number of substitutions interrupted the flow of the game before Anthony Edgar added a seventh with fifteen minutes remaining. The home side pulled two goals back late on, but Braintree ended up comfortable winners.
Next up for Braintree is a Suffolk double-header with a trip to Bury Town this coming Friday evening, 24th July, followed by a visit to Lowestoft Town on Saturday afternoon, 25th July. Kick-off at Bury is 7.45 and 3pm at Lowestoft. The next home friendly for Braintree is on Tuesday, 28th July when Iron entertain League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge.
2-2 draw at Stanway
Continuing their pre-season build-up, a Braintree Town XI made the short journey to visit Stanway Rovers on Saturday afternoon and shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw. Twice trailing, Iron levelled just before half time through trialist Anthony Edgar and halfway through the second half thanks to fine Sim Akinola finish. The team (with thanks to Jon Weaver) lined up as follows: Will Norris, George Pullen, Kamal Guthmy, James McQuillan, Scott Tancock, Devante McKain, Billy Gibson, Kurtis March, Sean Marks, Michael Bakare and Anthony Edgar. The following substitutes were used: Matt Fry, Remy Clerima, Simeon Akinola, Jordan Cox, Joe Moore, Matt Baxter and Luke Mallett replacing: Pullen, McQuillan, Marks, Bakare, Tancock, March and Edgar.
Next up for Iron is another Braintree Town XI making the short trip to Ryman League Division One (North) side Heybridge Swifts this coming Monday evening, 20 July, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Sim magic secures victory
Braintree Town continued their pre-season build-up with another entertaining fixture against strong opposition from the Football League. Newly promoted to League One, Essex neighbours Southend United were the visitors to Cressing Road on Friday evening and Iron secured their third odd-goal-in-three win in four games. After a bright opening, Iron took an eighteenth minute lead. Sam Habergham made space on the left before lifting an inch-perfect delivery into the box for the waiting Michael Cheek. Cheek nodded down for Sim Akinola, who drilled the ball into the top left hand corner. Iron doubled their advantage on the hour and again Sim was the scorer. Dan Sparkes was the provider with a pacey break on the left opening up the Southend defence. Dan pulled the ball back across the visitors 18-yard box. Cheek stepped over to leave the ball for the incoming Akinola to steer into the bottom corner for 2-0. Moments later both sides introduced a raft of changes, but the game's tempo was maintained and the Roots Hall side got themselves back in the game on 79 minutes. A hopeful long ball found Southend's David Mooney in space and, squeezing between two Iron defenders, found himself on the floor. Referee Rob Whitton awarded penalty which Mooney promptly tucked into the bottom left corner to bring the score back to 2-1. Iron continued to press, but were good value for their latest victory. Next up for Braintree is a squad XI fixture at Colchester-based side Stanway Rovers today, with kick-off at 3pm.
Championship club struggling with injuries
Iron Manager Danny Cowley has been advised by Reading that they will be unable to fulfil next Tuesday evening's pre-season friendly fixture as they have a limited number of players registered and have a number of injury concerns. We apologise for the late notification.
Get yourself a big discount and guarantee a space
The Club will be making available up to twenty car parking spaces in the main car park for supporters to book for the entire forthcoming season. This is offered on a first come, first served basis. These spaces are available for all home first team games (both National League and all Cup fixtures). The cost for season 2015/16 is a one off payment of £40 - offering a probable 25% reduction in the usual £2 entry fee over the course of a season and guarantees the holder a car park space for every game. The only restriction will be for when the Club host a live TV game, when the use of our car park is strictly limited. If you are interested, speak to either Kevin Christmas or Lee Harding.
Iron and Lions share spoils
Braintree Town shared an entertaining goal-less draw with League One side Millwall at Cressing Road on Monday evening in their third pre-season match in just four days. Iron manager Danny Cowley started the side with a strong Braintree side and the game was played at a high tempo as the Braintree lads continue to build up both their physical and match fitness.
Eight substitutes at the break saw the impetus maintained during the second half. Second-half keeper Nathan McDonald had to be at his best to deny a snap shot on the hour from Millwall trialist Alex Mulrooney-Skinner, while Michael Cheek and Sean Marks both saw chances denied by the Millwall keeper Keaton Wood as the game approached its goal-less conclusion.
Braintree side: Will Norris, Remy Clerima, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Matt Paine, Matt Fry, Jeremy Walker, Kenny Davis, Jordan Cox, Taylor Miles, Anthony Edgar. Substitutes at the interval: Nathan McDonald, Dan Sparkes, Scott Tancock, Billy Gibson, Kurtis March, Sean Marks, Michael Cheek and Simeon Akinola for Norris, Habergham, Isaac, Fry, Walker, Cox, Miles & Edgar. 70th minute substitution: Joe Maybanks for Davis.
Next up for Iron is the visit of what is promised to be a strong Southend United side for our fourth pre-season match this coming Friday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Goals late in each half secure victory
Braintree had to work hard throughout their second pre-season match to win by the odd goal in three at Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division side Long Melford on Saturday. Against a well organised and disciplined Suffolk side, Iron struggled to create openings and it wasn't until moments before the break that Braintree took the lead, with Sean Marks converting from close range Joe Maybanks' cross from the left. Melford equalised ten minutes after the re-start when Dan Swain's deflected effort fell to Jack Durey who levelled from close range. Iron continued to press and hit the woodwork before grabbing the winner in time added on. A free kick from deep found Scott Tancock unmarked at the far post to steer the ball home from close range.
Iron squad: Will Norris, Jeremy Walker, Connor Peters, Kurtis March, Scott Tancock, Joe Moore, Taylor Miles, Billy Gibson, Sean Marks, Jordan Cox, Antony Edgar, Mitchell Brundle, Nathan McDonald, George Pullen, Joe Maybanks, Michael Bakare, Mat Baxter, Luke Mallett.
Next up for Braintree is a friendly against a Millwall XI this coming Monday evening, 13th July, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Davis & Marks earn victory
It was one of the Iron's 'old guard' that grabbed the side a late winner two minutes from time against League Two outfit Leyton Orient at Cressing Road on Friday evening. Experienced striker Sean Marks rose at the far post to head home a Billy Gibson cross to give the Iron a win in their first pre-season match watched by a healthy crowd of 729 and leave manager Danny Cowley delighted.
"You always want to win games and to do it late on was a real clincher and overall I was pleased with the way we competed for the whole 90 minutes against a full-time side," he said afterwards.
"The players too showed great character and commitment for the whole game and it was a good, competitive first match and I think those watching will also see how we want to play attacking, attractive football.
"What I particularly liked was that once we had conceded that early goal we still continued to keep our concentration and came back at them strongly," he added.
"Once we had made our substitutions in the second half we looked well in control and caused them more problems at the back."
The Iron started with just two new faces in the line-up - central defender Matt Fry and striker Michael Cheek - and in a fast and furious opening 45 minutes more than held their own against the visitors. Recalled goalkeeper Nathan McDonald pulled off two fine saves but was beaten on 18 minutes when Paul McCallum found time and space to drive the ball into the Iron net.
Undeterred the Iron continued to play their part in what was an entertaining game and on 38 minutes equalised from the penalty spot through skipper Kenny Davis after Cheek had been fouled. New on-loan goalkeeper Will Norris came on at half time and he too had to be sharp enough to react three times when the visitors threatened in front of the Iron goal. On the hour manager Cowley made a mass substitution of seven players and from then on it was the Iron who looked the more likely side to score again.
Marks, reunited with Jordan Cox leading the attack, caused a few problems for the Orient defence while the pace of debut boys Anthony Edgar, Taylor Miles and Gibson in midfield gave the front two plenty of support. At the back in the centre of defence Remy Clerima proved a solid performer and was clearly the Iron's man of the match.
Despite that actual clearcut goal scoring chances were few and far between from both sides in what was a good football game it was golden oldie Marks who popped up for that crucial winning goal two minutes from time.
Braintree Town: McDonald, Brundle, Clerima, Fry, Habergham, Sparkes, Davis, Payne, Isaac, Akinola, Cheek. Substitute goalkeeper Norris came on at half time and on 60 minutes: Issac, Paine, Fry, Davis, Cheek, Akinola and Sparkes were replaced by Tancock, Miles, March, Gibson, Edgar, Cox and Marks. Attendance: 729. Referee: Rob Whitton.
Next up for Iron is a trip to Long Melford today, Saturday, kick-off 3pm, followed by the visit of Millwall on Monday evening, 13th July, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Iron Manager talks about progress to date and aims for the season
We sat down with manager Danny Cowley before tonight's opening pre-season game and our new man was pleased to share his thoughts with us on pre-season and the coming few months.
"I write this piece on the eve of our first friendly against Leyton Orient. Nicky and I have been in post for 10 weeks today. The boys have been back in since the 25th June and will have completed their ninth training session by the end of tonight. The schedule has been demanding but we have found the players' attitude and application to be excellent. As a consequence we are seeing an upward curve in terms of players' fitness levels and we are starting to convey our ideas with regards to team strategy and our tactical organisation.
The first 8 weeks of our tenure involved us working behind the scenes, building relationships and becoming familiar with how the different areas within the Club operate. This involved us speaking and more importantly listening to as many people associated with the Club as possible, from the Board of Directors, players, management staff, to the many volunteers who give up endless amounts of time supporting the Club. This has given us a valuable insight into why the Club has been so successful over recent years but also identified ways and areas where we could move it forward. We have tried to make marginal improvements to many different areas in an attempt to improve the environment for the players. There may be a perception that some of these areas are not directly related to player performance, however we believe that they can actually be critical to a player's success.
We try to create a culture which is player centred and an environment which the players enjoy working in. Some of the changes include refurbishment of the changing rooms, improved travel provision for away games, additional support for the medical 'team', changes in both the training schedule and facilities and an introduction to video analysis and statistical data to improve our ability to analyse both ours and opposition's performance. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has given up their time during this process to help us move the Club forward. We expect all of these small improvements when added up to have a significant impact on team performance.
The rest of our time has been shared between player recruitment and planning our training programme through pre season and beyond. With regards to player recruitment, our first challenge was to try and make early decisions on last year's squad. We had lengthy conversations with all of the players and watched around 30 of last year's games on DVD. This helped us learn about them as both characters and players. It became evident pretty quickly that the players had been a major part of the Club's success in recent times. There was a clear spirit between the players and a real togetherness which is vital in any successful group. We were really pleased to be able to reengage with the majority of last year's squad, this has certainly provided us with both continuity and solid foundations to build from. Regardless of who we add between now and the start of the season, nothing will be more significant than the early business we did with last year's players.
We are happy with the players that we have added to the group thus far and feel that they will compliment what we already have. We are probably two players from being where we want to be. When you are working with limited resources there is a necessity to be patient as players that were not obtainable to you in May and June become available in late July and early August.
Nicky and I both allocate lots of time and energy to the planning of our training programme. We believe that what happens on a Saturday is a product of what takes place on a Tuesday and Thursday night in training. We play in a league where the majority of the teams are full time, thus it is vital that we look to maximise the time we have available with the players in order to be competitive.
During the early part of pre season we try to combine fitness based work with lots of technical and tactical work. We work through the four cycles of the game; in possession; out of possession; and the two transitions of winning the ball from the opposition and losing possession. This allows us to build a game plan that the players all have a clear understanding of. They then have the knowledge and power to be able to problem solve to the many changing scenarios they will encounter.
This is very much a process that will continue to evolve as the season progresses. At the moment the players have a framework to work within. As the training sessions unfold we will try to add more and more detail and build on the players habits until their actions are autonomous.
Don't be concerned if the players do not look as sharp as you expect in the early games of pre season. They are still in a cycle of work that is very demanding, we don't taper the sessions at this stage of pre season, so consequently they are often working under fatigue. Towards the end of pre season, we start to taper the sessions with the fitness element becoming more focused towards short, sharp, explosive work. It will be at this stage that the players will start to see the benefits in their playing performance.
We now embark on probably the heaviest part of our schedule in terms of workload, with the players and staff in 8 out of the next 10 days. In this time we have 3 training sessions and 5 matches. This will be both physically and mentally demanding for everyone concerned but vital to our preparations for the coming season. We have 11 games in total this pre season, which can be broken down into 7 First team fixtures and 4 Squad games. Our organisation in pre season centres around trying to get the players 600 minutes of football each, prior to the first game of the season on the 8th August. This can be a logistical nightmare but certainly they are our ideals and what we work towards. From our experiences this background of games will prepare the players physically for the demands a 46 league game season brings.
We will all be working very hard to achieve success this season. There is no doubt that we need everyone that has Braintree Town FC best interests at heart to play their part. There will be moments when the journey will be tough and we will have our back against the walls. It is these moments, in the face of adversity, that we must show resilience and togetherness. We won't always be able to compete with opposition teams in relation to finances, facilities, support and playing resources. That is fine I can accept that. However we must always ensure that we never come up short in the effort and determination stakes.
Look forward to seeing you all tonight and during pre season - Danny Cowley
Braintree Town start with trip to Chester
Next season's Vanarama National League fixtures have been released and Braintree Town start the new campaign on Saturday 8th August with a trip up the M6 to visit Chester. Iron then have two home games to look forward to, welcoming Lincoln City the following Tuesday evening, 11th August, and then Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, 15th August.
As is traditional, more local games have been scheduled for holiday dates. August Bank Holiday Monday, 31st, sees us entertain Aldershot Town at Cressing Road, Boxing Day sees us travel to Boreham Wood, with the return at Cressing Road on Saturday, 2nd January. Easter is early next year and sees a home fixture against Bromley on Easter Saturday, 26th March, followed by a trip to Aldershot Town on Easter Monday, 28th March. In a repeat of last season, our final fixture will be at home to Altrincham on Saturday 30th April.
The opening day's fixtures are as follows:
Aldershot Town -v- Gateshead
Altrincham -v- Forest Green Rovers
Barrow -v- Dover Athletic
Boreham Wood -v- FC Halifax Town
Bromley -v- Wrexham
CHESTER -v- BRAINTREE TOWN
Kidderminster Harriers -v- Grimsby Town
Lincoln City -v- Cheltenham Town
Southport -v- Eastleigh
Torquay United -v- Macclesfield Town
Tranmere Rovers -v- Woking
Welling United -v- Guiseley
In cup competitions, Braintree Town are exempt until the fourth and final qualifying round of what will now be known as The Emirates FA Cup, with that tie scheduled for Saturday 24th October. Iron will also benefit from exemption to the First Round of the FA Trophy, with the tie scheduled for Saturday 12th December. Click on the Games link above for all the fixtures!
Proposed Development at North-West Braintree Growth Location (adjoining Panfield Lane)
Braintree Town Football Club have been advised by Phase 2 Planning and Development Ltd that they intend to submit a planning application to Braintree District Council in the coming months for a mixed use development on the land off Panfield Lane, previously identified by the Council as their preferred growth location and which included a proposed new stadium for the Club.
Braintree Town Football Club and local residents have been invited to attend the public exhibition so that they can view the proposals and provide Phase 2 Planning and Development Ltd with comments.
The public exhibition takes place on both Friday 10th July 4pm to 7pm and Saturday 11th July 2pm to 5pm. The exhibition will be held at the Glebe Community Hall, Glebe Avenue, Braintree, CM7 5RB.
Supporters may remember that the site north of Springwood Drive Industrial Estate and to the west of Panfield Lane was included in Braintree District Council's Core Strategy, issued in September 2011. The Council's Core Strategy growth area required 15 hectares of land (36 acres) to be made available for new commercial development and a new site for Braintree Town Football Club.
However, since the adoption of the Core Strategy, there have been major changes in national planning policy and guidance. These include the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the National Planning Practice Guidance.
What's happened since?
One of the most significant changes contained within this new guidance relates to the requirement on Councils to significantly boost their supply of housing by meeting their full objectively assessed need for market and affordable housing. Indications from population projections and from the Strategic Housing Market Assessment for Braintree District, suggested that this figure is going to be much higher than that which is set out in the 2011 Core Strategy.
The Council also monitored the progress of other local authorities in a similar position and two cases were particularly relevant. The Planning Inspectorate, in letters to other local authorities, suggested that carrying forward a Core Strategy housing target based on housing figures determined before the NPPF, and not on more up to date evidence, would not be an approach likely to be considered acceptable by a Planning Inspector.
The Council also commissioned specific advice on its plans from the Planning Advice Service, as well as legal advice from external Counsel. Both of these concluded that taking a Site Allocations and Development Management Plan to an examination would be a very high risk approach and the most sensible option would be to begin work immediately on a new Local Plan, fully compliant with the NPPF.
So, at their Full Council meeting on 30 June 2014, The Council took the decision, based on the weight of evidence, not to submit their Site Allocations and Development Management Plan to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, but to instead begin work immediately on a new Local Plan which would set out the Council's strategy for future development and growth up to 2033.
All is not lost!
The Council advised that the work completed on the previous plan and the comments which have been received, would not be lost. These would be rolled forward into the new Local Plan. The New Local Plan will include all major planning policy for the District in a single document and will need to meet the requirements of the NPPF. Once complete it will replace both the 2011 Core Strategy and the 2005 Local Plan Review.
One of the main requirements in the NPPF is for local authorities to significantly boost their supply of housing and this applies across the Country. A document called a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) helps the Council work out how many houses are needed and of what type. It estimated that this needed to be between 761 to 883 new homes per year. A range of housing need requirements was considered by the Council in September 2014. Further evidence on whether this is achievable will be collected before a decision is made on a precise number as part of the draft Plan to be published this Autumn.
What happens now?
As Braintree Council have to plan for a larger number of new homes in the District, they will need to look at larger sites. The Local Plan is not just about new homes but must ensure that housing growth is supported by infrastructure, jobs and community facilities.
The Council will be working with key stakeholders such as the NHS, education and highways authorities to ensure that vital community facilities such as schools, GP surgeries and roads and public transport links are in place to support existing residents as well as new communities. Open spaces and community facilities will also be protected and new spaces and facilities will be supported.
An important part of the Plan will be promoting economic growth and prosperity in the District. The Plan will need to ensure that land is available to support new employment areas and that the right jobs can be provided in the right places for local residents.
What does it mean for the Football Club?
As we have said before, we believe the Football Club to be a Braintree success story, with recent progress taking the Club from local football to within touching distance of the Football League. Progress that has certainly helped put the town and district on the map.
Braintree Town Football Club continue to support Braintree Council's decision to include a new site for the Club in the proposed Growth Location at Panfield Lane. Supporters may therefore be interested to view the proposed development and provide both Phase 2 Planning and Development Ltd and Braintree Council with any comments they may have.
Feasibility study discussed
Braintree District Council officers and representatives of Braintree Town Football Club met last week, following the completion of the Feasibility Study looking into the future of the Club's Cressing Road Ground.
Announced last year and funded by the Council, the Feasibility Study looked at a number of options including, moving the Club, creating new facilities and redevelopment opportunities.
The study has identified and costed a number of options, which are now being considered by the Club.
Councillor Lady Newton, Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing, said: "As an authority we recognise the importance of a strong and vibrant football club, and we have been working closely to look at how the clubs facilities are improved in the future.
"The findings of the study have set out a number of options for the club to consider, and this has been an important piece of work as ultimately we want to make the right decisions for club and council tax payers.
"We will be meeting again in the next few weeks, when we intend to make a further statement about the future of the Cressing Road Ground."
Football Club Chairman Lee Harding added: "We thank the Council for the work undertaken so far and setting out the options in terms of moving forward.
"We are currently assessing the costs put forward by the Council's consultants. It's disappointing and we can understand our fans frustration at the lack of progress, but all parties involved understand the importance of making the right decision for the town and the future of the Club. We fully agree with Lady Newton that the solution must be affordable.
"Our preference remains to relocate to a new stadium, that meets the Football League's entry and admission requirements. Whilst many outside of our club will look at our attendances and query the need for new or improved facilities, it must not be forgotten that this need is to meet the entry requirements of the Football League and to allow the Club to progress. We do not make the rules, but are simply trying to comply with them.
"We believe that the football club is a Braintree success story and we will continue to work with our Council to see if there is a potential solution to our needs to meet the Football League's stadium requirements in an affordable way."
Work experience roles at Cressing Road
The Club have two work experience vacancies. The details of the roles are as follows:
Organisation: Braintree Town Football Club
Location: Braintree Town FC, Clockhouse Way, Braintree, Essex CM7 3RD
Contract type: Work Experience Placement (part-time basis)
Closing Date: Friday 3rd July 2015
Interview Date: To be confirmed
Job Description: Braintree Town Football Club are looking for a Sports Therapist to join the football clubÕs Medical Team for season 2015/2016. If you have enthusiasm, a positive attitude and are currently undertaking a sports therapy/massage qualification then this could be the ideal opportunity for you.
Braintree Town Football Club are very proud of its National League status. The club is determined to provide the most professional environment to compete against the other full time professional clubs in our League. This opportunity would suit a qualifying therapist keen to acquire further experience of working in a professional football environment.
We are looking for the therapist to attend match-day fixtures to provide pre and post- match manual therapy under the supervision of the first team physiotherapist.
Role Summary: To work in a progressive medical team in a sporting environment while promoting high standards of health, well-being and medical care.
To provide all First Team players with the best methods of therapy integrating a holistic approach to enhance conditioning, injury prevention, rehabilitation and advice, thus enabling them to optimise their performance.
Main Duties and Responsibilities: Respond to the requirements of the first team Physiotherapist.
Deliver suitable and appropriate sports therapy manual techniques based on scientific evidence and clinical knowledge to aid in injury prevention.
Work within a highly motivated medical team and provide the most effective treatment and rehabilitation for injured players.
Educate players in terms of injury prevention, injury care, post-match and training recovery strategies.
Assist the medical/fitness staff in the delivery of pre-training rehabilitation classes and rehabilitation sessions as required.
Assist the fitness staff in the delivery of recovery protocols. These duties may include a) Assisting in pre and post hydration testing procedures b) Ensuring players undertake their necessary recovery strategies such as cool downs, recovery shakes and Ice baths.
Skills & Competencies: A hard working, enthusiastic, motivated person who is committed to pursuing a career in sports medicine.
An excellent knowledge of various manual therapy methods and willingness to learn and teach in a holistic approach.
An innovative and forward thinking person who is happy to learn and investigate new ideas to improve themselves and the medical provision within the club.
Excellent interpersonal skills in order to work in a team environment including confident communication to be able to feedback to the first team physiotherapist, management team and players.
How to apply: Please send your CV and a cover letter to Danny Cowley at email@example.com or alternatively by post to Braintree Town FC, Clockhouse Way, Braintree, Essex CM7 3RD.
Organisation: Braintree Town Football Club
Location: Braintree Town FC, Clockhouse Way, Braintree, Essex CM7 3RD
Contract type: Work Experience Placement (part-time basis)
Closing Date: Friday 3rd July 2015
Interview Date: To be confirmed
Job Description: Braintree Town Football Club are offering a work experience placement for a Performance Analyst. The position is ideally suited to an aspiring Performance Analyst looking to gain further experience in football. If you have enthusiasm, a positive attitude and are currently undertaking a related sports science degree or a similar qualification then this could be the ideal opportunity for you.
Braintree Town Football Club are very proud of its National League status. The club is determined to provide the most professional environment to compete against the other full time professional clubs in our League. This opportunity would suit an individual with a sports science or coaching degree keen to acquire further experience of working in a professional football environment.
Role Summary: To work in collaboration with the management team to analyse individual, team and oppositionÕs performance through qualitative and quantative measures. This would be used to inform training and match day preparation ensuring that players received the highest level of support possible.
Main Duties and Responsibilities: The Performance Analyst will monitor and record individual and team performance data at both training and matches.
Record quantative data of team and oppositionÕs performance to support qualitative assessments and to be used for evaluation purposes.
Edit clips of our previous performances for evaluative purposes to support detailed individual and team analysis. Edit clips of opposing teamÕs previous matches to support detailed analysis for match day preparation.
Communicate with the management team and players in both training and competition environments providing feedback on performance.
Skills & Competencies: A hard working, enthusiastic, motivated person who is committed to pursuing a career in professional football.
A high level of analytical skills, including observation and data gathering skills.
A high level of technical and tactical knowledge of football.
Excellent interpersonal skills in order to work in a team environment including confident communication to be able to feedback to both the management team and players.
A good working knowledge of Microsoft packages and video production software.
Efficient in using performance analysis systems.
How to apply: Please send your CV and a cover letter to Danny Cowley at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively by post to Braintree Town FC, Clockhouse Way, Braintree, Essex CM7 3RD.
Popular defensive duo sign up
Mitch Brundle and Sam Habergham have both re-signed contracts with the Club. Danny Cowley said: "Both players played key roles last year. Sam has played well over 100 games for Braintree and is as experienced as you get for a 23 year old. Technically Sam is excellent and he has a lovely left foot. He is an unassuming lad and is very level headed. I think this allows him to find a real consistent level of performance which will be crucial for us.
"With regards to Mitch, it is hard to believe he is only 20! Physically he is excellent and meets all of our expectations of what a modern day footballer should look like. Last year would have been invaluable for him, not only did he get forty plus games under his belt but he played in a variety of positions. He has a vast range of attributes which mean that he is really versatile. However, the challenge for Nicky and I is to find Mitch's best position during pre season. Having stability and continuity in one position is key to any young player's development. While being versatile is an attribute in itself, it is important for Mitch that he finds a position and learns to master it. In terms of the balance of the squad it would be ideal if that was right back. However, we see goals in Mitch and in order to maximise that it would mean playing him higher up the pitch. It is certainly something that we are open minded about at this point."
Mitch will also join the club's Academy coaching set-up. Danny commented: "We are really pleased to be able to offer Mitch a role within the Academy. Mitch is a role model to any young player. He is very professional in both his conduct and the way he looks after himself and will be a really positive influence on the young players in the Academy. Nicky and I have worked closely with Mark Sansom and Alan Stuckey since we arrived at the Club and really value the work that they are doing. The Academy is crucial to the sustainability of the Club at this level. There is no reason why our academy shouldn't be competing with the likes of Southend United, Colchester, Leyton Orient and Dagenham and Redbridge to attract the very best young players in Essex and beyond. Last year saw Joe Maybanks and George Pullen come through the Academy and get into the first team. That shows that there is a clear pathway for young players at this Club."