Harsh dismissal leaves Iron with too much to do
Braintree Town made the journey to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday evening and came home beaten by the odd goal in three. Iron looked the livelier of the two sides early on and it was against the run of play when the home side took the lead. On the half hour, a hopeful ball from deep saw Rovers Matt Taylor escape behind the Iron defence. He was brought down inside the 18-yard box by Matt Paine who was then rather harshly dismissed for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, despite being surrounded by other Braintree players. Taylor despatched the resultant spot kick, but Iron continued to take the game to the home side and drew level on 38 minutes. Sim Akinola was set up on the edge of the home 18-yard box and turned his marker before his acrobatic over-head volley saw him crash the ball into the top corner. The second half saw the home side dominate possession, but struggle to break down the Iron defence until six minutes from time. A neat inter-change between substitute Ellis Harrison and Taylor opened up the Braintree defence for Harrison to then slide the ball passed the exposed Nick Hamann. Next up for Iron is a trip to play-off hopefuls Grimsby Town this coming Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm.
Late goal hard on Braintree
Braintree made the journey up the A1 to visit FC Halifax Town and came home beaten by a solitary goal. On a difficult playing surface, the Braintree players certainly put in a shift and were a match for their play-off chasing hosts for the duration. Goal-less at the break, Iron had a couple of chances to take the lead after the break, only to concede in the ninetieth minute when Jamie Jackson headed home Jack Muldoon's cross from the right. It was a cruel outcome for Iron, who had caused the home side problems from the off. Kenny Davis saw his shot zip just wide of the target after 15 minutes and both Remi Clerima and Chez Isaac also saw their efforts sail over before the break. After the interval Sean Marks saw his effort well saved by home keeper Glennon on 64 minutes as Iron pushed forward and Glennon did well again four minutes later to deny Sim Akinola. As the half continued Davis, Mitch Brundle and Akinola all had half chances before the last minute drama. Next up for Iron is a trip to championship-chasing Bristol Rovers this coming Tuesday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Two new dates
PAN Disability players aged 7-16, regardless of ability or experience, can enjoy football in a non-competitive environment at free Youth Soccability Sessions starting on Saturdays from 21st February at Notley Sports Centre in Braintree.
Footballers with differing impairments can play together at sessions from 11:00am-12:00pm being run by Disability4Sport, in partnership with Braintree Town FC and Fusion Lifestyle. FA-qualified coaches will be present to set-up the fun format and, after an initial six-week spell, they'll continue in the future should there be sufficient interest.
The ultimate aim is to establish Under 16s and Under 12s teams with Braintree Town YFC who will take part in the Essex County FA's monthly Soccability Festivals, where sides comprised of footballers with differing impairments playing together. As the sessions are taking place in a sports hall, non-marking footwear is required.
To confirm your attendance, contact Abigail Saxon via (01206) 619631 or firstname.lastname@example.org including your name, age, parent/guardian emergency contact and relevant additional information. To find out more about Soccability in Essex, contact your local Football Development Officer, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for 'EssexFootball' on Facebook.
Popular right back hungry for more
Our website reporter Ryan Delaney caught up with fans favourite Ryan Peters on Saturday to talk about hitting 200 games for the Club ...
Q- Reaching two hundred appearances for Braintree Town is quite an achievement. When you first signed for the Iron did you think you would reach such a milestone?
A- No not at all. You try to be at a club as long as you possibly can, but after my first season here under Robbie Garvey there was a bit of turmoil towards the end, he left and I didn't know where I stood. So I embarked on trying to get my career at Staines, which didn't work and I ended up back here, thank you very much to the directors for doing that, because ever since then we have gone from strength to strength up the league. So no I did not think that, but now I am here, there is nowhere else I would rather be.
Q- So another two hundred appearances maybe?
A- I would like to do that if I can, yeah!
Q- How much has Braintree Town changed since you made your debut?
A- In terms of the facilities maybe not, its been the same club for a while, but in terms of personnel, the gaffer has come in and has straight away changed things with the help of the directors and the board. Players, its a different squad today, miles much, much better than what we had going back to the start of three or four seasons now when we were in the Conference South. If you have a bad game, there could be a chance you will never get back in the side again. I mean he (Alan Devonshire) sent two boys out on loan who are brilliant. Charlie Strutton is prolific in this league and for him to be out loan at this moment in time is because of the quality that we have got here, which shows how far we have come as a club and that is testament to the gaffer.
Q- So you will have to keep working hard to keep getting appearances?
A- Yea, but if you take a look at training, we train two times a week and it is quite intense and the gaffer wants it that way. If you are shirking your responsibilities in training there is no way he will play you on Saturday.
Q- Will you be doing anything in particular to celebrate the milestone at all?
A- No, not as yet. I reached two hundred appearances with Kenny (Davis), that was an achievement in itself, Kenny has been a great servant to the club and captain. And to be assistant captain, I am just following in his footsteps. Hopefully at the end of the season we will both be doing something together, not too sure what yet but we will have to wait and see.
Q- Of all your appearances, what would you say was your best game in an Iron shirt?
A- Probably the Barnet game this season. They came over here top of the league, flying, we knew we had to put in a performance, they have two great wingers, the gaffer told me straight away you have to get as tight as you can, and that is what I did, I was able to make myself the winger that he was chasing rather than me chasing him. That was probably my best game.
Q- And what would you say was the best team performance or result that you were involved with?
A- Team performance was against Cambridge, either last season or the one before, it was at home, we won 3-2, we were 3-0 up with ten minutes to go and went on to win it 3-2. It was when the likes of Nicky Symons and a few others were still here, it was a massive team performance.
Q- Is there a ground or fixture that you most look forward to?
A- If we are looking at any team then I would love to go to Old Trafford, but that would only come via the FA Cup. Other than that playing against Luton, with eight thousand fans, always buzzing, looking at the game we played at their ground on T.V. The fans were brilliant the atmosphere was brilliant, that is what we want to play in front of every week. Unfortunately they have gone up now so we don't get to play them as much any more. But look there is more to look forward to, we have Bristol Rovers next week, I am sure that will be a stadium to visit.
Q- Are there any players you have a rivalry with at all?
A- This season definitely. When we played Forest Green here, Elliot Frear, there are not many wingers that get the better of me but he gave me a bad time. I intend to put that right when we play them again. I played him a couple of seasons ago when he was at Salisbury, he didn't do what he did to me last time, so I am aiming to put that right when I play him again.
Q- And finally, what are your thoughts on the season so far, and how do you think it will finish for Braintree?
A- Its been a weird, indifferent season, we have got further than we have for a while in the FA Trophy, which I suppose has hampered our climbing up the league. But now we are out of the FA Trophy, the sky's the limit and if we look at where we could escalate from, seasons before we have been lower than where we are now and still gone on to finish in ninth and sixth as well so there is nothing to stop us doing exactly the same again. If we win, and I know it's a massive ask, if we can win ten out of our last sixteen games, there is nothing to stop us from making the play offs. But first and foremost fifty points and stay safe and go from there, we know that every season.
Thanks to both Ryans - here's to the next 200!
Two new dates
A new date for our home Vanarama Conference game with Macclesfield Town has been agreed. The Silkmen will now visit the Miles Smith Stadium on Tuesday, 3rd March with kick-off at 7.45pm. Our Vanarama Conference match at home to AFC Telford United has now been put back from the previous Saturday to Tuesday, 24th March, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Braintree defeat Alfreton again
Iron recorded a two-goal win double over Alfreton Town at the Miles Smith Stadium on Saturday. The last time the two teams met, the Iron came out victorious with a 2-0 score line with Kenny Davis and Dan Sparkes finding the net. This time however it was Sean Marks and Chez Isaac who came up with the goods. Braintree went into the match having not played in ten days due to Torquay's commitments in the FA Trophy. Alfreton on the other hand had recently picked up a draw against Forest Green after twice coming from behind, as well as a 4-2 victory over Southport. There was no comeback for the Reds this time as the match finished as a 2-1 victory for the Iron.
The Iron had a the first opportunity to open the scoring after four minutes. Simeon Akinola had a shot blocked by Jason Mooney who was quick off his line, the rebound fell to the feet of Jordan Cox outside of the box. Again Mooney was on hand to make a block, there were suspicions from the Iron players that he made the save outside of the box, but nothing was given.
Cox had to be replaced with Sean Marks after less than twenty minutes due to a heavy fall when competing for a header. Cox had been lively in the time that he had been on the pitch and had been holding the ball up well. After the game Alan Devonshire stated it was a change had had not wanted to have to make as Marks had not been able to train in the last ten days. Devonshire was however delighted with the impact that Marks had on the game.
Akinola had perhaps his best chance of the game towards the end of the half when he connected with a cross from Isaac on the edge of the six yard box. The shot was however marginally wide of the mark as Akinola did not get clean contact with the ball.
In the final minutes of the half, after being shepherded out of play by Matt Paine, Karl Hawley forced his fist into the face of Paine, it was clearly an attempted punch. The referee saw the event and controversially decided that it did not warrant at a yellow card let allow a dismissal, a decision that angered Alan Devonshire on the touchline. Devonshire remarked after the match that he felt the referee had clearly made the wrong decision.
The second period started brightly, with both teams showing more urgency and attacking intent, particularly sending in crosses. The Iron however looked the most dangerous when going forward, as well as assured in defence. The first sniff of goal in the second half was for the Iron. It was from a dangerous cross into the box by Sparkes that caused a scramble. Alfreton managed to clear but Isaac whipped in another cross that was almost turned behind for an own goal but Mooney was able to get down low and hold onto the ball. Nick Hamann had to make his first save of the afternoon shortly after when Karl Hawley connected with a cross, flicking it on towards goal, Hamann however was able to comfortably hold onto the ball.
Mitch Brundle had a sight at goal and unleashed a powerful low drive that stung the fingertips of Mooney as he sent it out for a corner. Sparkes sent in a dangerous cross that Alfreton were unable to clear from danger and Isaac also took a shot from range which was deflected out for another corner. Sparkes again curled in a great cross that was met at the back post by Marks. Marks header was bulleted across the goal and over the reach of Mooney. After the game Marks said the cross from Sparkes really put the chance on a plate for him. The goal came in the sixty-second minute.
The game had really come to life for Braintree and they were immediately in search of a second. After yet another Sparkes cross the ball was half cleared to the edge of the Alfreton box where the unmarked Isaac had a great chance to score, his shot was however went agonisingly over the bar. Isaac did not take long though to put himself on the score sheet. Akinola showed great skill to get past two defenders before crossing from the edge of the box. The ball ricocheted around the area before finding Isaac at the far post, almost exactly where Marks had scored from. Isaac latched onto the ball and slotted a calm finish past Mooney into the far corner. The two goal lead was well deserved for Braintree who were in the ascendancy.
The Iron had a chance to extend their lead when Sparkes broke into the Alfreton box, his shot fizzing over the bar. Sparkes then linked up neatly with Akinola on the left wing, both working their way into the box, but Akinola was unable to get his shot away. Sparkes was again amongst the action late on in the game, whipping another teasing cross into the path of Marks. It was another good header from Marks, who aimed it low to the keeper, this time however Mooney was able to theatrically save with his foot.
Alfreton Town had not been quiet the whole game, Braintree had however been able to effectively deal with everything that had been thrown at them. When Alfreton scored, it was in the third minute of four additional minutes. Substitute Andy Thanoj had a blistering long range effort palmed away by Hamann. The shot was too much for Hamann to handle and the rebound feel kindly for fellow substitute Anthony Howell to nod home. It was a tense final minute for the Iron, but Howells goal proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
It was a strong performance from the Iron, they showed no rustiness from not having played last week. Alan Devonshire said in his post match interview that he felt the team thoroughly deserved the win and could have scored more on another day. Sean Marks had similar comments to make and also stated that he and the team are confident heading into the next fixture at Halifax.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, Matt Paine, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes (Joe Maybanks 89 mins), Jordan Cox (Sean Marks, 18 mins), Simeon Akinola. Unused Subs: Ryan Peters, Sean Marks, Joe Maybanks, Carl Pentney, James Mulley. Alfreton Town FC: Jason Mooney, Jordan Keane, Luke Graham, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Niall Heaton, Bradley Wood, Daniel Bradley (Andy Thanoj, 82 mins), Tom Shaw (Joe Leesley, 65 mins), John Johnston (Anthony Howell, 62 mins), Karl Hawley, Lee Stevensen. Unused Subs: Andi Thanoj, Joe Ironside, Thomas Flynn. Attendance: 468. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Meal for two and best seats in the house!
Our congratulations go to Daniel Turner on winning the Vanentines Day draw with us. Daniel and his guest will enjoy a meal with us in the Board Room prior to the game, refreshments at half time and at full time, together with two seats in our director's box.
Bernard Mensah back for second loan
Alan Devonshire has re-signed 20-year old Watford forward Bernard Mensah on loan for the remainder of the season. Promoted in 2011 following a two-year scholarship with Watford, Mensah signed a professional contract. In January 2013, Mensah signed an extension to his contract, committing to Watford until 2016. He scored 14 goals in 19 appearances for the under-18 side during the 2012-13 season before becoming a full professional at the end of the campaign. On 23 November 2013, Mensah made his Watford debut as a 78th minute substitute for Javier Acuna against Bolton Wanderers. This will be the second time that Bernard has been at the Miles Smith Stadium on loan. In January 2014, Mensah joined Braintree Town on a one-month loan. Due to bad weather, which limited his playing time, the loan was extended until the end of the season, playing nine games and scoring twice. Bernard is eligible to play for Ghana or England but has yet to represent either country at any level. In 2011, he trained with the Ghana squad ahead of their friendly against Nigeria at Vicarage Road. However, he was not called up by Ghana and was only asked to join the squad for training due to their depleted squad.
Iron to visit Lancashire in April
Braintree Town's Vanarama Conference fixture at Southport, postponed in December and January, has now been re-arranged. The new date for the game at Haig Avenue is Tuesday, 14th April, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Trips to Torquay and Bristol Rovers confirmed
Two Vanarama Conference fixtures have now been confirmed. Braintree Town have agreed a new date for their postponed trip to Torquay United. Originally scheduled for this coming Saturday, the Vanarama Conference fixture will now take place on Tuesday, 17th March, with kick-off at 7.45pm. As a result of Braintree Town's exit from the FA Trophy, the Vanarama Conference trip to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, 24th February is now confirmed.
Ebbsfleet through to the Quarter-Finals
Braintree Town were knocked out of this season's FA Trophy competition, going down 2-0 at Ebbsfleet United last Tuesday evening. Iron were disrupted by a nasty injury to Dan Sparkes that saw him require urgent paramedic treatment to re-attach a partially severed earlobe and conceded on 37 minutes. Keeper Nick Hamann failed to hold on to a stinging Theo Lewis drive and could only push the ball to the grateful Danny Kedwell who tucked the ball home from close range. Braintree took the game to the Kent side after the break. Both Jordan Cox and Sim Akinola created good chances, but Iron were caught on the counter late on when pushing players forward. With five minutes left Alan Massey was dispossessed on the edge of his own box by Adam Cunnington who then slotted his low strike passed the exposed Hamman. As a result of the defeat, Braintree Town have no fixture this coming Saturday 7th February. Next up for Iron is the visit of Alfreton Town a week on Saturday, 14th February, with kick-off at 3pm.
Guidance from Ebbsfleet
For Tuesday evening's FA Trophy Third Round Replay at Ebbsfleet United, we have been advised by the Kent club that there is no parking for supporters in the club car park. Parking is available at Ebbsfleet International Car Park ÔCÕ and opens at 6-15 for football fans, where there is a charge of £3 but it is a secure car park and easier when leaving the game. We are advised that it is only a short walk to the ground. The game is not segregated so admission can be via the main entrance. Supporters are further advised to be wary of street parking especially under the railway arch near the ground.
Miles Smith Stadium pitch frozen
This afternoon's Vanarama Conference fixture against Macclesfield Town has been postponed due to a frozen pitch. The match referee inspected the pitch at just before 8am this morning and where much of the snow had thawed yesterday, the resulting standing water, unable to drain through the frozen drainage system, had turned to sheet ice. With more snow forecast today, the decision was taken to postponed the game early to save Macclesfield from travelling. More news on a new fixture date when we have it.
Referee to assess pitch after overnight weather
Tomorrow (Saturday's) afternoon's Vanarama Conference fixture at home to Macclesfield Town remains in doubt after snowfall on the Miles Smith Stadium pitch during Thursday evening. Most of the snow melted during the afternoon, but that has left the pitch very wet. With a frost forecast for this (Friday) evening and the Cheshire club planning to leave early on Saturday morning, we have arranged a pitch inspection for 8am. More news when we have it.
Snow and slow thaw causing flooding
Tomorrow (Saturday's) afternoon's Vanarama Conference fixture at home to Macclesfield Town is in doubt after snowfall on the Miles Smith Stadium pitch during Thursday evening. With the temperature today hovering just above freezing, the pitch is starting to thaw, but that is leading to flooding as the drainage below the surface remains frozen. With a frost forecast for this (Friday) evening and the Cheshire club planning to leave early on Saturday morning, Secretary Tom Woodley is currently contacting local referees to determine when we can arrange a pitch inspection. More news when we have it.
Trophy replay and Torquay trip
Following Tuesday evening's 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet United, the FA Trophy Third Round replay will now take place at Ebbsfleet United's Stonebridge Road ground this coming Tuesday, 3rd February, with kick-off at 7.45pm. This replay will see the tie played through to its conclusion and, if necessary, will include extra time and penalties. The winners of this match have been drawn away to Vanarama North North Ferriby United on Saturday 7th February, with kick-off at 3pm. As a result of Torquay United's progress in this season's FA Trophy competition, our Vanarama Conference trip to Torquay United, scheduled for a week on Saturday, 7th February has been postponed - more news on a new date when we have it.
Braintree recover from conceding early
The Iron took on Ebbsfleet United under the Cressing Road floodlights for a place in the FA Trophy Quarter Finals, where the winner would face North Ferriby United. The match had originally been scheduled three days earlier, but had been postponed due the condition of the pitch. After ninety minutes it finished all square at 1-1 with the tie to be decided at Stonebridge Road in a weeks time.
It was a nightmare start for Braintree as Ebbsfleet took the lead very early in the game, after four minutes, when Adam Cunnington converted a header at the near post following a corner. It was a fairly simple goal for Ebbsfleet, and Alan Devonshire speaking at full time felt Braintree could defended the set piece better. Braintree responded well to going behind, getting themselves back in the tie and pumping balls forward looking for Jordan Cox, but it was not long before Ebbsfleet were back on the offensive. It took a smart save from Nick Hamann to prevent the Fleet from doubling their lead when Theo Lewis connected well with a cross eight yards from goal.
It was end to end football and Alan Devonshire felt it resembled more a derby match than anything, plenty of determination from both sides to get forward, but little end product. The Iron had chances from Simeon Akinola and Chez Isaac and the Fleet had a glorious chance when Matt Johnson beat Hamann to a cross and managed to take the ball around him, the touch was too heavy though and the ball went out of play.
Towards the end of the half the Iron were absorbing pressure from Ebbsfleet who were pushing forward. This allowed the Iron to counter with Dan Sparkes bursting down the left wing whipping in a dangerous cross. Kelvin Langmead took a swipe at the cross but almost sliced the ball past his keeper and into his own net with the ball narrowly glancing wide for a corner. From the resulting corner Braintree won a penalty as an Ebbsfleet defender was penalised for pushing in the box. The Iron levelled the tie on forty-five minutes when Kenny Davis, who was making his two hundredth appearance for the club, drilled home from the penalty spot, sending the keeper the wrong way and the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. The Ebbsfleet manager, Jamie Day, was aggrieved at the decision to award a penalty and was subsequently sent to the stands for the second half for exchanging words with the officials.
At half-time the teams went in level in a closely matched contest, with both teams having chances to take the lead. The Iron arguably had the lions share of possession whereas the Fleet spurned a couple of very good opportunities.
The second half started brightly for Braintree as they were in the ascendancy, doing plenty of pushing but not creating any real chances. Ebbsfleet were not done though, and the game opened up even more in the second half with both teams taking it in turns to apply the pressure.
Ebbsfleet came close to taking the lead when Theo Lewis found Kedwell with too much space in the Iron box. Kedwell powered an effort at goal which blazed harmlessly over the bar. Another chance for the Fleet as Kedwell turned provider crossing into Kenny Clark who headed onto the bar. The rebound resulted in a scramble and eventually a scrappy clearance, but the Iron managed to keep the ball from finding the net.
Ebbsfleet had a few more chances, particularly from crosses as they looked dangerous in the air, but they were unable to create anything to really test Hamann. Braintree on the other hand looked dangerous on the counter, especially when Dan Walker came on to the right wing, but the Iron were also unable to play a killer ball into Sean Marks.
The game finished as a draw, a result that Alan Devonshire felt was a fair reflection of the game. Devonshire also had praise for his squad for giving it the best they could, especially as a few players, Cox, Marks and Ryan Peters were not fully fit to play. He also went on to say that the pitch might have made it harder for the Iron as they were unable to play the way they had wanted to. The draw means that the tie will be decided in Ebbsfleet, which will be a tough encounter for the Iron, but they are not out of the Trophy yet.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, Dan Sparkes (Dan Walker 70 mins), Matt Paine, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Jordan Cox (Sean Marks, 62 mins), Simeon Akinola. Unused Subs: Dan Walker, Carl Pentney, Mitch Brundle, Sean Marks, Joe Maybanks. Ebbsfleet United: Preston Edwards, Matt Fish, Joe Howe (Brendan Kiernan, 26 mins), Kelvin Langmead, Anthony Acheampong, Kenny Clark, Matt Johnson, Stuart Lewis, Danny Kedwell, Adam Cunnington, Theo Lewis. Unused Subs: Brendan Kiernan, Brandon Hall, Dean Pooley, Sean Shields, Jamie Day. Attendance: 404. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Pitch fails two pitch inspections
This afternoon's FA Trophy tie at home to Ebbsfleet United has been postponed. Over the past few days the pitch has been frozen and rarely thawed much as the temperature struggled to get above zero. With the pitch still frozen, we had a lot of rain on it last night and the new drainage struggled to cope until it thawed this morning. We started work on it early and had dressed the Quag End goalmouth but, at 12.30, the referee asked for more work on it. He re-inspected it at 1.30 and advised that there was another small area he was concerned with. Both managers were happy to play, but the match referee decided that the pitch was not fit and the game was postponed. The game will now take place on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.
Braintree Town's Vanarama Conference trip to Southport this evening has been postponed. The Haig Avenue pitch is frozen and the weather forecast for the area provides little hope of a thaw. News on a new date when we have it.
Iron to visit Bristol Rovers in late February, if ...
Braintree Town have agreed a provisional date of Tuesday 24th February for their Vanarama Conference trip to Bristol Rovers. The match, originally scheduled for this coming Saturday - but postponed due to Iron's continued involvement in the FA Trophy, will take place on this date - only if the clubs are not involved in FA Trophy action. If that is the case, it has been agreed that the game will be deferred to either the 3rd or 10th of March.
Back in the game at 1-1, Braintree concede too quickly
Iron slipped to a frustrating home defeat at the hands of a smash and grab raid by Forest Green Rovers on Saturday. Braintree were looking to extend their unbeaten start to 2015 by recording a victory over the Gloucestershire side, who sit just outside of the playoffs. The game turned out to be the first defeat for the Iron as a brace from Jon Parkin consigned Braintree to defeat.
The games first opening came within a few minutes when a Braintree corner was headed low into the corner by Jordan Cox, the Rovers defence managed to deflect the ball inches wide. Cox then missed a sitter just a few minutes later. Simeon Akinola showed great strength to shrug off three defenders and turn them before passing to Chez Isaac out on the right wing. Isaac burst into the box and instead of shooting at an angle, he cut the ball back for Cox lurking yards from goal. Cox took a swipe at the ball but a bobble on the pitch put Cox off his strike. Had Cox been able to make proper contact, it would have been a glorious chance as Sam Russell was out of position to make a save.
It was a fast start from the Iron, but after twenty minutes Forest Green battled into the game, turning the match into an end to end entertaining match. The Rovers came close to opening the scoring when a long range blistering effort by Sam Wedgbury was saved by the fingertips of Nick Hamann, the ball rattling the crossbar before cannoning back into play. Braintree responded to the threat with a dangerous Isaac corner met by the head of Akinola, the chance going narrowly over. Aarran Rancine had an opportunity moments later, his shot from the edge of the six yard box bounced narrowly wide. The Iron had a very similar chance moments later with James Mulley whipping the ball into Cox but debutant Charlie Clough was on hand to clear the danger before Cox could pounce.
Forest Green Rovers Elliott Frear was a handful throughout the game, and towards the end of the half with no support he did well to dance through a couple of challenges to get himself into a shooting position, the however shot lacked any power and was easily scooped up by Hamann. There was still time in the half for Ryan Peters to go on a run himself, unleashing a shot that cannoned off the defence for a corner. The corner was whipped in by Isaac and bounced around the box before falling to the feet of Kenny Davis with his shot also being deflected wide for a corner. It was Isaac again with the delivery, this time met at the far post by Remy Clerima who could not direct his header towards goal.
The first half was end to end entertainment, but with no end product for either team. In fairness at half time neither team deserved to go in behind, but Braintree had certainly created more goal scoring opportunities.
Jon Parkin had an early chance in the second half as Forest Green hit the Iron on the break with the pace of Frear. The ball into the box by Frear found Parkin, his effort was tame and went wide without troubling Hamann. Moments later Akinola played a peach of a cross field ball that put Isaac clear on goal. Isaac did well in rounding the defender and goalkeeper, but as he went to shoot the ball appeared to slow down in the mud and Isaacs effort was straight at Russell. Russell could not hold onto the ball and it was spilled back into the path of Cox, but Clough was able to get in the way to block the ball, which was eventually smothered by Russell.
The first goal of the game came on sixty-eight minutes when Parkin was first to react in the box. A corner from the left side was met at the near post by Clough who knocked it on across goal. The ball fell at the far post kindly for Parkin who was able to apply the finish. After the game Nick Hamann commented that he felt it was a soft goal to concede.
From the restart the Iron went straight back on the offensive but were unable to create any clear cut chances. Substitutes Dan Sparkes and Sean Marks combined straight after being brought on when a Sparkes cross almost found Marks rushing in at the far post. They did however combine in the eighty-forth minute, a Sparkes delivery from a free kick created chaos in box. Davis was able to get a shot away which fell kindly to the unmarked Marks who struck the ball low and hard into the net to equalise.
They say you are most vulnerable right after you score, and that proved to be true for Braintree. On eighty-sixth minutes almost straight after the restart, Parkin got his second goal of the game. Frear again showed his pace on the left wing and delivered a cross into the near post, where Parkin had managed to get in front of the defence. The header from Parkin was deftly knocked on over Hamann and across goal landing just inside the post.
It was a sucker punch for the Iron who had worked very hard to get back into the game so late on. After the game Alan Devonshire praised the effort of his team and felt that in the end Braintree did enough to get at least a point from the game. Devonshire also shared Hamann's belief that Braintree needed to take the chances they created early on. The next game for the Iron is an away trip to Southport, one that Devonshire is now focusing to get a result at.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, James Mulley (Dan Sparkes, 75 mins) Matt Paine (Charlie Strutton, 80 mins) Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Jordan Cox (Sean Marks, 75 mins) Simeon Akinola. Unused Subs: Dan Walker, Carl Pentney. Forest Green Rovers: Sam Russell, Charlie Clough, Sam Wedgbury, Stuart Fleetwood (James Norwood, 80 mins) Marcus Kelly, Clovis Kamdjo (Chris Stokes, 84 mins) Aarran Rancine, Kurtis Guthrie, Elliot Frear, Rob Sinclair, Jon Parkin. Unused Subs: Chris Stokes, Corby Moore, Danny Coles, Steve Arnold. Match Report by Ryan Delaney. Attendance: 661.
Iron to meet Vanarama South opposition
The draw for the Third Round Proper of The FA Trophy has been made at Wembley today. Braintree Town have been drawn at home to Vanarama South side Ebbsfleet United. The tie is scheduled for 24 January, just 12 days away. The Third Round Proper draw:
Stockport County or Wrexham v Grimsby Town or Gateshead
Braintree Town v Ebbsfleet United
Chorley or FC United Of Manchester v AFC Fylde or AFC Telford United
Dartford v FC Halifax Town
Maidenhead United or Farnborough v North Ferriby United
Hemel Hempstead Town v Torquay United
Bath City v Altrincham
Oxford City or Woking v Dover Athletic
Braintree involved in FA Trophy action
Following Saturday's FA Trophy victory, our Vanarama Conference trip to Bristol Rovers scheduled for Saturday, 24 January is postponed. News on a new date for our trip to Bristol Rovers will be announced as soon as it is agreed.
Davis and Cox secure comfortable win
Braintree Town eased into the last sixteen of this season's FA Trophy competition following Saturday's 2-0 victory at Gosport Borough. Iron were in control of the tie for the majority of the game, made easier by their numerical advantage as Gosport Borough received two red cards on their way out of the competition. The goals came from Cox and Davis, the two scorers in Braintree's last match at Chester.
The match started slowly with both teams getting to grips with each other as well as a strong wind. Despite not creating any clear cut chances Braintree were comfortable and were putting in crosses that were testing the Gosport defence.
After twenty-five minutes Braintree were awarded a penalty when a Simeon Akinola cross was handled by Lee Molyneaux, the defender sliding in to block the cross with his hand high above his head. The referee had no hesitation in giving the penalty, which Kenny Davis stepped up to take. Davis placed his shot low to the right of the goal which Nathan Ashmore did well to get down and save.
The half progressed without too many attempts on goal by both sides. Both Matt Paine and Chez Isaac had blocked shots in the Gosport box before Matt Paterson attempted an acrobatic scissor kick that fizzed over the bar. Akinola showed a glimpse of what he could do with a sharp turn and shot that was parried by Ashmore.
Akinola grew into the half and was again behind the Gosport defence after a beautiful turn into the box. Akinola was bearing down on goal and was ready to pull the trigger when Dan Wooden unceremoniously brought Akinola down as the last man. The referee again had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and brandishing the red card. There were few complaints from the Gosport players regarding the decision. Davis showed nerves of steel by stepping up to take the spot kick after his previous attempt had been saved. Davis changed direction instead going down the middle as Ashmore went the same way as before, unable to get his foot to the ball. The goal came on the stroke of half time.
There was more drama before the half finished as Justin Bennett attempted to lob Hamann unsuccessfully. This was followed by more drama when Paterson was denied a penalty following a defensive error. Paterson was still able to get a shot away that was well saved by Hamann. The save was parried and the ball rolled into the path of Paterson who had a second bite at the cherry but this time Hamann made the save and smothered the ball. The first half finished with a flourish after a slow start and Braintree had a one goal advantage.
Almost immediately from the second half kick off Jordan Cox got himself on the score sheet after an embarrassing mistake by Ashmore. The ball was passed back to Ashmore by Sam Pearce, Ashmore then inexplicably played the ball along the ground straight to the feet of Cox who had the luxury of being able to take a couple of touches before dispatching the ball low into the opposite corner of the goal.
With twenty minutes to go Gosport were down to nine men for the second time in two games. Mike Carter was dismissed for the second time in a week for a two footed tackle on Matt Paine, who had to be treated on the sidelines following the challenge. Gosport had little complaint over the decision and now faced a very tough challenge to overcome the Iron. With the result more or less secured the Iron slowed the pace down, allowing Gosport to pass the ball around without getting close to Hamann.
Late on chances fell to both Charlie Strutton and James Mulley. Strutton's chance came from a Dan Walker cross that found him at the far post unmarked. Strutton had to stretch to make contact with the ball, but sent it over the crossbar. Mulley was put through on goal following a swift counter attack but as he ran into the box his feet got tangled with the ball which went out for a goal kick.
In time added on, Iron had a number of chances to add to their tally, but settled for 2-0. After the game Alan Devonshire stated that he feels that Braintree can do well in the competition and is taking it seriously. Victory over Gosport made it eight wins out of the last eleven games and with that form the Iron will be looking forward to the draw for the last sixteen on Monday.
Gosport Borough FC: Nathan Ashmore, Lee Molyneaux (Adam Wilde 51 mins) Dan Wooden, Mike Carter, Robbie Matthews, Sam Pearce, Tom Dunford, Danny Smith, Matt Paterson, Justin Bennett (Lee Wort, 78 mins) Steve Ramsey (Paco Saez, 51 mins). Unused Subs: Matt Benham, Jonathan Muleba. Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Matt Paine, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis (Dan Sparkes, 63 mins) Simeon Akinola (Dan Walker, 76 mins) Jordan Cox (Charlie Strutton 61 mins) Remy Clerima, Ryan Peters, James Mulley. Unused Subs: Carl Pentney, Joe Maybanks. Attendance: 460.
Third Trophy trip to Gosport in seven years
After an encouraging Christmas and New Year haul of twelve Vanarama Conference points, Iron can now switch their attention to the FA Trophy and Alan Devonshire's squad face a daunting trip to last season's beaten finalists - Gosport Borough - on Saturday. The Hampshire club were beaten by (now) Football League side Cambridge United at Wembley, with the game attracting an 18,000 crowd. It was the latest step in a seven year journey that has seen Gosport rise from the Wessex League at step 5 as recently as 2007, through the Southern League's two tiers to within touching distance of non-League's top flight.
Last season had seen the Privett Park club languishing at the foot of the Conference South table before Christmas, but the Trophy run coincided with improvement in league form to a mid-table finish and Gosport have continued that improved form this season. A fine run of results in the run up to Christmas saw Gosport as high as third in the Vanarama South table. Although they have lost just six of their 34 games so far this season, recent form has been less consistent, but Borough still currently sit just two points outside the Vanarama South play-off places, in eighth place, with a couple of games in hand over three of the four sides immediately above them. Last Saturday saw them travel to St. Albans City and return home beaten by the odd goal in three. The game also saw Borough finish with just nine players on the pitch after both defenders Lee Molyneaux and Mike Carter were dismissed.
Gosport's progress this season has not gone unnoticed, with League One side Swindon Town reported to be in negotiations over the possible transfer of striker Matt Paterson - who signed for Borough in the summer from Aldershot Town. The 25-year-old former Southampton striker has scored 17 goals this season and his partnership with 25-goal striking partner Justin Bennett has been a key reason behind the club's success this term. That said, Gosport manager Alex Pike has stated that he would not stand in a player's way if they are offered a route into the pro ranks.
We've met in the FA Trophy before. Back in November 2007, goals from James Hawes, Robbie Martin and two from Chris Sullivan saw Iron win a FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round tie 4-1 at Privett Park. Four years later in December 2011, the FA Trophy again paired the clubs in Hampshire with Dean Wells scoring the only goal of the First Round tie.
For those making their own way to the game on Saturday, the address and telephone details are as follows: Gosport Borough FC, Privett Park, Privett Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 3SX. Tel: 023 9250 1042.
Iron respond after transport woes
Iron completed a successful five game festive season by deservedly winning this game at the Swansway Stadium on Sunday having come back from conceding a goal just before half time to collect 12 out of a possible 15 points and consolidate their mid table league position. The squad's preparation for the game wasn't helped by the non appearance of the team coach, but the Braintree lads responded positively to complete a good holiday period for the Club.
It left a broad smile on manager Alan Devonshire's face who was clearly delighted at his side's latest performance adding: "I think we deserved the victory and again showed what this squad of ours is capable of achieving particularly with coping with five games within 15 days.
"I had to change the players around again to give some a rest and then we lost Chez Isaac early on with an injury before conceding what was an unlucky goal just before the break," he said. "But they showed great character and determination in the second half and everyone worked hard to make sure we won and collected the points."
It was also a fine return for young striker Jordan Cox, starting his first game for almost two months because of injury, because his second half brace ensured the Iron returned home with a win.
"I'm pleased for the boy who has had a frustrating time with injury recently and I have only been able to bring him on as a substitute for short periods as he gets back to fitness," said Devonshire. "He is still young and learning the game but he took his two goals well which will give him a lot of confidence."
The Iron, keen to avenge their home defeat by Chester back in August, had started with Cox and Simeon Akinola leading the attack as Devonshire was forced to rest Charlie Strutton while Sean Marks had not fully recovered from his ankle injury picked up in the New Year's Day win over Dartford.
In what was a fairly scrappy and tame first half in front of the home's side's 1,690 crowd - and the Iron were a little unlucky to go a goal behind five minutes before the interval.
The home side's Sean McConville cut inside from the left driving a right foot shot straight at Iron keeper Nick Hamann but it took an awkward deflection off defender Alan Massey on the way and into the net.
This season the Iron have found it difficult to come back from being a goal down but that didn't happen here because with 10 minutes of the restart they were back on level terms when skipper Kenny Davis lobbed a fine shot over home keeper Jon Worsnop following a Danny Sparkes corner.
A minute later the Iron stunned the home crowd when they took the lead and again it all came from Sparkes who sent over an accurate cross straight to the head of Cox who duly nodded it past Worsnop for his first goal since late October when he netted in the FA Cup tie replay with Weymouth.
The home side naturally tried to retaliate and minutes later John Rooney Ð the younger brother of Manchester United and England striker Wayne Ð headed just wide at the end of a decent move.
But the Iron rearguard, again led in style by Alan Massey and Remy Clerima, managed to keep the home forwards until the 76th minute when from a corner Rooney headed the ball on to Chester skipper Matt Brown and he levelled matters with a another header that beat Hamann.
But any hopes that the home side would then snatch all three points were dashed within a minute because the Iron responded in fine fashion, moving the ball straight up field and again it was the busy Sparkes who caused problems for the home defence.
His fine cross could only be partially parried away by Worsnop and there was Cox on hand to pounce on the rebound to send a right foot shot into the home net.
Despite this sudden setback the home side rallied again but the Iron defence held out and manager Devonshire brought on some fresh legs in the final minutes with Marks replacing the tiring Cox and fit again Dan Walker making his first appearance since the end of October replacing Akinola.
"We knew it would be a hard game particularly as it was a fifth in such a short period but to come away and up here and win was great and all the players deserve credit for the three points," added Devonshire.
This Saturday the Iron go to Gosport Borough in the FA Trophy Second Round.
Braintree: Hamann; Brundle, Massey, Clerima, Habergham; Mulley, Davis, Paine, Isaac (Sparkes 31); Cox (Marks 78), Akinola (Walker 83).
Late goal prove decisive as superior fitness shows
Iron faced the Darts for the second time within a week and recorded a 3-0 victory that gives them a league double.
Simeon Akinola had the first chance after two minutes, connecting with a James Mulley cross with a firm header that glanced wide of the goal. After ten minutes a free kick cross from Isaac resulted in a goal line scramble which almost saw Sean Marks poke home from a few yards out, instead the ball deflected off the legs of a Dartford defender and Daren Ibrahim was able to pounce on the ball before Charlie Strutton could get to the rebound. After the first ten minutes Dartford began to dominate possession and territory but were unable to penetrate the Iron defence with Alan Massey and Remy Clerima winning the aerial battles and outmuscling Dartford.
Despite having less possession Braintree looked the most dangerous going forward, on twenty-six minutes Matt Paine lined up a shot from 30 yards out and unleashed a blistering effort with his right boot that whistled narrowly wide of the goal, had it been on target no keeper would have been able to save it. Some fantastic link up play between Mulley and Strutton put Mulley into a dangerous position on the line, his cross was too fast for Marks to connect and Peter Sweeney managed to flick the ball just over Akinola who was rushing to meet the ball at the far post.
Dartford had their first real efforts in the dying minutes of the half, the first came when Tom Bradbrook evaded the offside trap and was put through on goal, his effort from the edge of the box bounced narrowly past the Braintree goal. Their second effort came from a corner which Elliot Bradbrook met with a strong header in the six yard box, Nick Hamann was equal to it and pulled off a stunning reflex save to prevent the ball crossing the line. Isaac had the last chance of the half when Strutton charged down a clearance the rebound fell in a dangerous position just inside the Dartford box, his effort however was straight at the keeper and did not have enough power. At halftime it remained goalless. The Iron had the majority of the chances, however Dartford had perhaps the best chance, drawing a fine save from Hamann.
Braintree started the second half the brightest creating chances in the first few minutes. Akinola picked out Marks in the box with a low cross, Marks then laid the ball off to Strutton who hit a fierce shot which was fantastically saved by Ibrahim, the save was not held though and the rebound fell to Isaac who smashed his effort marginally over the bar.
Dartford grew back into the game, getting more possession and territory and after sixty-five minutes had a chance from a corner that was headed just wide of the near post. An attempted clearance by Sweeney from 45 yards turned into a fluke shot that Hamann could only parry, the ball landed at the path of Harry Crawford but he was unable to get a shot away before being dispossessed by Sam Habergham.
The opening goal came from Isaac after some good build up play from the Iron. After a Braintree corner was cleared, Habergham headed the ball back up the pitch to Kenny Davis who laid the ball of to Paine who swept a fantastic cross field ball to Isaac out on the left wing. Isaac took the ball under control and burst into the Dartford box cutting inside his defender and unleashing a powerful drive that found the net at the near post.
Almost immediately after the goal Braintree had two clear opportunities to double their lead, first with substitute Jordan Cox having his shot blocked on the edge of the six yard box, then Akinola pounced on the rebound, but Ibrahim had rushed out to make a vital save that went out for a corner. It was from the resulting corner that Akinola then got himself on the score sheet. Isaac turned provider, whipping in an in-swinging corner that Akinola headed in at the far post.
Dartford had been rocked by the goals and Braintree came close to adding to their tally with an Akinola free kick parried and cleared and a Cox header from a corner was well saved. Dartford did keep looking for a goal and a shot from Tom Bradbrook on the edge of the six yard box rocketed over the bar, before he tested Hamann with a curling shot from the edge of the box that Hamann did well to tip around the post.
The points were more than secured when substitute Dan Sparkes bagged himself a goal. A clearance from Habergham was headed back by Sweeney to Tom Bender who was unable to take it under control under pressure from Davis, Sparkes then dispossessed Bender who tried to make a challenge but Sparkes was already away on goal. Sparkes then kept his composure to calmly place the ball beyond Ibrahim into the bottom left corner.
The match finished 3-0 and despite Dartford arguably having more possession and territory, it was Braintree that created the most chances and even more importantly were more clinical. The goals may have been late in the game, but manager Alan Devonshire explained after the game that he felt it was only a matter of time and that Dartford would eventually tire out.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, James Mulley, Matt Paine, Chez Isaac, Simeon Akinola (Dan Sparkes 90 mins) Sean Marks (Jordan Cox, 58 mins) Charlie Strutton (Kenny Davis, 75 mins). Unused Subs: Steve Smith, Carl Pentney. Dartford FC: Daren Ibrahim, Mat Mitchel-King, Tom Bender, Peter Sweeney, Rory McAuley, Lee Noble, Tom Bradbrook, Elliot Bradbrook, Harry Crawford, Luke Daley, Lee Burns,. Unused Subs: Ryan Hayes, Max Cornhill, Danny Harris, Callum Driver, Nathan Collier. Attendance: 934. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Double blocks by Flitney the turning point
A fine double reflex save from Eastleigh 'keeper Ross Flitney, with the two sides all square at 1-1, proved to be the turning point in Braintree's defeat at home to Eastleigh on Christmas Sunday.
It was the home side that had the first of the chances when Simeon Akinola took a tumble outside the box on the left hand side. Chez Isaac stepped up for the resulting free kick, but drilled his cross behind the goal, failing to threaten. Following a great block from Alan Massey in front of his own area, Iron picked up the play and countered quickly to find James Mulley in the box. Mulley twisted and turned to get himself into a shooting position, then raising appeals for a penalty as he fell in the box in front of the Quag End. However, referee Colin Lymer waved away the appeals and play continued.
On 20 minutes, a Chez Isaac effort from the left was cleared off the line by Will Evans to the relief of the travelling fans. Goalkeeper Ross Flitney received treatment after a collision, but was able to continue as the Iron seemed to be the dominant side in the opening exchanges. The away side then had their first real effort on goal, firing jut over the bar before McAllister struck a strong shot just wide of the goal as Eastleigh began to get into their stride.
Just past the half an hour mark, Iron were then stung badly with a shot from outside the box by Craig Stanley. Stanley had enough time to set himself up before curling an effort beyond Hamann from twenty yards out, handing the visitors the lead. Jai Reason had an opportunity to double the lead within two minutes of the goal, but fired wide as Iron appeared on the ropes having just conceded.
With five minutes remaining of the first half, Jai Reason's ball in presented Will Evans with a great opportunity to score again, but the right back fired well wide and would be punished down the other end almost instantly. Simeon Akinola drew a foul down the other end inside the visitor's box when breaking on the counter, and Colin Lymer blew without hesitation to award the Iron a penalty. With Kenny Davis on the bench, Mitch Brundle stepped up to the challenge, sending Ross Flitney the wrong way and drawing the Iron level just prior to the break. Akinola was at it again just before the whistle, carrying the ball half of the length of the pitch from a clearance. His through ball to Isaac hit the post, which then signalled the end of the first half as the whistle was blown.
Four minutes into the second half, Ross Flitney was at his best to deny Iron with a double save that proved to be the turning point in the game. Flitney got down low to push clear Akinola's shot, but could only do so as far as Dan Sparkes, who blasted the rebound towards the opposite corner which was again reached by the outstretched 'keeper.
James Constable then hit the Iron hard, not once, but twice in as many minutes to give his side a two goal lead. Constable first fired past Massey, who was standing the striker up in the area to give Eastleigh the lead on 54 minutes. No sooner than the celebrations had finished, Constable had the ball in the back of the net again, having this time skipped past the challenge of Sam Habergham, the only man back, to slot a second, to give his side a two goal lead.
Iron responded with multiple crosses from Isaac on the left, forcing Flitney to punch away the danger, and through Mulley on the right hand side. Devonshire made a double change just beyond the hour mark, replacing Sean Marks and Chez Isaac with Jordan Cox and Kenny Davis.
Braintree continued to threaten, with multiple shots on goal, but couldn't find the back of the net as the clock ticked down. However, Jack Midson put the game beyond doubt on 75 minutes when he found a lofted delivery in from the Eastleigh left flank towards the back post. Midson's task was simply to direct the ball beyond Hamann which he did with plenty of time to spare to extend the lead to three.
Failing to learn from conceding earlier in the game, Iron were again most vulnerable after dropping a goal, and Constable pounced on a cutting ball through on the right hand side. Constable did little to spare the Iron blushes as he slotted the ball beyond Hamann to net his hat-trick and Eastleigh's fifth of the evening.
With the game clearly beyond reach for the Iron, Eastleigh could now defend and comfortably take all three points which they did efficiently despite some efforts in the final minutes from the home side.
Reflecting after the game, manager Alan Devonshire suggested that he felt the score line was maybe not a true reflection of the game.
"The kid up front finished great and I don't think Nick had a save to make apart from picking the ball out of the net five times. It's funny how you've lost a game 5-1 and probably the man of the match was their 'keeper. At the start of the second half he has pulled off a couple of worldies, but you have score them as goals change games. We gave away the third which killed us as well and its poor goals after that. 5-1 is very harsh on us, but we'll pick ourselves up and go again."
"We know Eastleigh are a big budget side. At the end of the day I have young boys who are learning the game. We wasn't clinical today, and we haven't been all season to be fair but at the end of the day that is that you pay for."
"I feel for them because 5-1 is like a hammering and it wasn't like that. We just dust ourselves off and look forward to Dartford here on Thursday."
On Ryan Peters, Alan commented that Ryan had a dead leg and will be out for a couple of weeks before wishing everyone a Happy New Year.
Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Clerima, Massey, Habergham, Mulley, Paine, Isaac (Davis 62), Sparkes, Akinola (Strutton 76), Marks (Cox 62) Unused subs: Smith, Pentney. Eastleigh: Flitney, Green, Beckwith (Todd 45), Stanley (Collins 67), Constable (Fleetwood 77), Reason, McAllister, Midson, Strevens, Evans, Reid. Unused subs: Odubade, Noice. Referee: Colin Lymer. Assistants: Sean Feerick and Paul Evans. Fourth Official: Anthony Da Costa. Attendance: 748. Match report by Chris Pargin.
Charlie and Sim get the goals
Braintree Town recorded their third successive victory without conceding, winning 2-0 on a heavy pitch in the rain at Dartford on Boxing Day. Iron took the lead from the penalty spot after home defender Tom Bemder handled in the penalty area and Charlie Strutton stepped up to drill the resultant spot kick passed Dartford keeper Jason Brown. Iron were marginally the better of the two sides during a niggle first half that saw both James Mulley and Remi Clerima have chances. After the break Iron controlled the game for lengthy periods and were good value for their second when Sim Akinola steered home Chez Isaac's cross. Late on Matt Paine looked set to add a third only to be denied by a fine point-blank Brown reflex save. The three points lifted Braintree to fifteenth in the table and Iron entertain Eastleigh at the Miles Smith Stadium this coming Sunday, 28th December, with kick-off at 3pm.
Sean Marks and Sim Akinola score the goals
Braintree Town played host to former League 2 side Torquay United for the first time in the Conference Premier. The Gulls visited Cressing Road in sixth place, chasing a play off place, with Braintree Town a little too close to the relegation zone for comfort in nineteenth place. Given the performances of the two teams, Braintree looked as though they were the team in sixth. After the match Chez Isaac stated that he and his teammates still believe that the Iron can finish much higher in the league, and if Braintree can repeat performances like today their belief is understandable.
The Iron were straight out of the tracks and after two minutes had their first chance. A shot from Simeon Akinola deflected off a defender across the face of goal and falls to James Mulley on edge of six yard box. Mulley took a first time shot which was blasted into the side netting.
The first goal came after twenty minutes, with Sean Marks getting himself on the board. Braintree had been playing a high line, pressing the defenders and not allowing Torquay to play it out of the back, and this decision was how Braintree created Marks' chance. The ball was won back by Braintree on the halfway line and when Ryan Peters was given possession he broke at the Torquay defence down the right wing, his cross was dinked into the middle of the box where it was met by the head of Marks. Marks had his back to the Torquay goal but managed to flick it on towards goal and the outrushing Torquay keeper, Martin Rice.
The second goal came just before half time from a free kick won by Marks on the right edge of the Torquay box, a similar position to where Peters crossed for the first goal. It was Isaac who provided the assist, curling an out swinging cross into the box where Akinola was on hand to provide the finish, connecting with the bottom of his boot. Martin Rice dived to his right and managed to get fingertips to the ball but was unable to prevent the ball creeping over the line.
The Iron went in at half time two goals to the good and it was a very deserved lead. Braintree took the game to Torquay, playing with pace and intent, getting the ball down and passing well, making good attacking runs and harassing defenders at every chance. Whilst Torquay were poor going forward, Braintree did still look strong in defence, this showed by the fact that Torquay United had not managed a shot, either on or off target. The back four won most of their headers and put in plenty of interceptions, with Matt Paine providing strong cover in front of the back four.
The second half started with Torquay fighting to find a way back into the match, but Braintree remained composed and organised and in the words of Isaac was quick to put out any fires. The Iron created a number of chances for a third goal through Strutton and Akinola but their chances were easily held by Rice.
Torquay managed to register their first shot at goal late on in the second half when a free kick was blasted over the bar. Some good link up play put Courtney Richards through on goal with ten minutes to go, but his shot from a few yards out went wide of the goal. Moments after Richards chance, Marks had perhaps the best chance of the half. Akinola twisted and turned into the Torquay box before dinking a cross into the feet of Marks. Marks then swivelled to goal and unleashed a shot that grazed the top of the bar and out for a goal kick. Marks had one more chance to get a brace in added time. Mulley skirted his way the box before passing to Marks on the edge of the six yard box, Marks could not quite get his shot away and the danger passed.
Akinola was handed the man of the match award, which in fairness could have been awarded to a number of Braintree players. Alan Devonshire had praise for Akinola, a player he feels can go a long way in the game. Devonshire also had positive comments on the result, especially as he felt it was a real team performance. Torquay could have no complaints about the result as they never threatened Braintree and arguably a 2-0 score line flattered the Gulls given the dominance of the Iron.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters (Mitch Brundle ,80 mins), Remy Clerima, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Alan Massey, Matt Paine, Sean Marks, Charlie Strutton (Dan Sparkes, 70 mins), Simeon Akinola (Steve Smith, 90 mins), James Mulley. Unused Subs: Carl Pentney, Joe Maybanks. Torquay United FC: Martin Rice, Krystian Pearce, Ben Harding, Louis Briscoe (Jordan Chapell, 61 mins), Ryan Bowman, Toby Ajala, Courtney Richards, Angus MacDonald, James McQuilkin (Tom Cruise, 30 mins) Duane Ofori-Acheampong (Ashley Yeoman, 67 mins) Levi Ives. Unused Subs: Jordan Seabright, Oneil Odofin. Attendance: 818. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
Braintree drawn away to Gosport again
Braintree Town have been drawn away to last season's finalists Gosport Borough in the Second Round of this season's FA Trophy. Gosport defeated Basingstoke Town 2-1 in their First Round replay on Tuesday evening, after extra time. This match will take place on Saturday 10th January 2015.
Back here on Monday to see who we get
Iron's reward for Saturday's FA Trophy win over AFC Sudbury is a place in the competition's last thirty-two. The draw for the FA Trophy Second Round is scheduled for Monday from The FA's headquarters at Wembley Stadium. The Second Round match will take place on Saturday 10th January 2015. News on our opposition here - as soon as we have it!
Braintree into FA Trophy last 32
Braintree Town had to work hard to get a result against AFC Sudbury, as the team three divisions below them put up a tenacious fight. The result could have read more favourably for the Iron given the number of chances they created, as it is the solitary strike from Simeon Akinola proved to be the difference, as Braintree Town came out 1-0 victors.
AFC Sudbury started the brightest, creating a few early chances and testing Nick Hamann. A fine ball across the Braintree box caused confusion with Hamann unable to either catch the ball or punch it clear, instead it fell to Jack Wilkinson at the far post. The Sudbury players shot blocked well by Ryan Peters who had to be alert as Hamann was not on his line. Correy Davidson had a shot inside the Iron box blocked by Mitch Brundle and Terry Rymer had a drive at goal well held by Hamann.
After the first twenty minutes Braintree Town came into the game, asserting control of the midfield and defending solidly. Mid way through the first half, perhaps the easiest chance fell to Akinola. A long ball out of the Braintree half was chased down by Akinola and the Sudbury clearance was blocked. Akinola got control of the rebound from his block and put on a turn of speed to get past the last defender and go round the goalkeeper. With the hard part done Akinola bared down on goal with two defenders on the line as makeshift keepers. The shot from ten yards beat the defenders on the line but thumped against the upright and bounced clear of danger. It was a sitter that Akinola and Alan Devonshire acknowledged after the game should have been buried.
It was that man again, Akinola, who had another fantastic opportunity to break the deadlock. James Mulley did brilliantly to get to the ball into the feet of Akinola from the left edge odd the box after taking on the Sudbury defence. Akinola's shot from twelve yards out was hit low and hard, but also down the centre of the goal. It still required a great reflex save from Marcus Garnham to get down low and put enough of his body behind the ball to keep it out. The ball was not held by Garnham and the rebound dropped to the edge of the six yard box where Brundle was waiting to pounce. Brundle powered a low drive at goal, however, the Sudbury defence had regrouped and reorganised and two defenders put their bodies on the line to keep it goalless.
Moments later Akinola was again gifted a great chance to open the scoring. Some fine link up play between Akinola, Brundle and Sean Marks put Brundle into a dangerous position to cross on the right side of the box. Brundle fed the ball across the face of the goal to the unmarked Akinola who had to stretch to get a toe to the ball. Akinola made contact with the ball but could not quite convert the chance, instead directing the ball wide. The first half finished goalless, but Braintree certainly had created the majority of the goal scoring opportunities and had been able to nullify the threat posed by AFC Sudbury.
It was after fifty seven minutes that the deadlock was broken, with Akinola the scorer and making amends for previous chances. A deep cross from Peters was taken under control by Mulley who was then bundled over in the box on the left side, with the ball dropping into the path of Akinola. From just inside the Sudbury box, Akinola unleashed a volley low into the right side of the net, with Garnham unable to react to the shot. It was the most difficult of the opportunities that Akinola had, and after the game both Devonshire and Akinola said that it was the hardest of all his chances.
After the Iron took the lead it became a less frantic end to end encounter and more of a midfield battle. Whenever Sudbury pushed forward their attempted long balls were easily headed clear or taken under control by the Iron defence, and when Braintree were on the offensive the final product was lacking, and Sudbury were playing with plenty of men back behind the ball. James Baker, a former Braintree Town player, normally used as a striker was utilised in defence. He looked natural in the position and he hardly gave Braintree a kick at goal in the second half.
Akinola was taking on Sudbury defenders and on many occasions was finding his way past challenges, even when they doubled up on him. He was composed in possession and spread the ball well with some fantastic cross field balls. Shortly after his goal Akinola put a peach of a cross into the feet of captain Kenny Davis who could not quite get the ball from under his feet to take the shot.
The closest Braintree came to doubling their lead was through Dan Sparkes in the dying minutes of the game. Sparkes attacked the Sudbury defence, run directly and at pace, managing to jink past two challenges down the left wing and into the box. Sparkes appeared to try to cross the ball to the far post but instead it whistled agonizingly close to the far corner of the Sudbury goal, going narrowly over.
There was late drama as Sudbury won a contentious free kick in a dangerous crossing position on the right side of the Braintree half. The delivery was perfectly met and the header looked to be looping over the head of Hamann who was stretching, instead it grazed the top side of the crossbar, going out for a goal kick. Had it been a few inches lower Hamann looked to have it covered.
It was perhaps not as easy as Braintree Town would have liked, and not the winning margin they may have hoped for, but they will be in the draw for the next round which pleased Alan Devonshire, who also stated after the game that Sudbury deserve plaudits as they performed very well. He also said that he would love to go on a cup run and that these games provide something else for the players to enjoy.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Mitch Brundle (Charlie Strutton, 64 mins), Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Matt Paine, Sean Marks, Simeon Akinola (Dan Sparkes, 81 mins), James Mulley. Unused Subs: Carl Pentney, Remy Clerima, Steven Smith. AFC Sudbury: Marcus Garnham, Ben Robinson, Lee Flynn (Mark Ray, 81 mins), Jack Wilkinson, Craig Pope, James Baker, Ayrton Coley (Scott Kemp, 73 mins), Sam Clarke, Correy Davidson (Jordan Blackwell, 66 mins), Terry Rymer, Ollie Berquez. Unused Subs: Tyler Kemp, Jack Guyton. Attendance: 547.
Can Suffolk club continue their giant-killing run?
Braintree Town start their involvement in this season's FA Trophy competition with a First Round tie at home to Ryman League Division One (North) side AFC Sudbury on Saturday. While all Vanarama Conference clubs enter the competition at this stage, our visitors have battled their way through six matches from the Preliminary Round and three Qualifying rounds. The Suffolk club have been consistently unlucky with the Trophy draws so far this season, with Saturday's First Round tie belong their fifth successive away pairing!
Progress to the competition proper started with a 3-1 Preliminary Round win at Ryman League Division One (South) side Whitstable Town in mid-October. This was followed by a creditable 2-2 draw at Ryman League Premier Division side Bognor Regis Town, in the First Qualifying Round, before their first giant-killing in this competition was completed with a 2-1 home replay win in early-November. The Second Qualifying Round sent the Kingsmarsh club to another Ryman League Premier Division side - this time championship-favourites Maidstone United in mid-November. Sudbury produced the shock result of the round winning 2-0 on the plastic pitch.
The Third Qualifying Round saw them again drawn away to a step 3 side chasing promotion to the Conference - this time Southern League Premier Division promotion hopefuls St. Neots Town at the end of November. An equaliser in the third minute of time added on saw the home side deny Sudbury another notable victory. But the Suffolk club completed the job 1-0 in the replay with a twenty-five yard drive from Lawrence Yiga securing a third successive giant-killing and a seventh game in the FA Trophy. Their progress in the competition has been as follows:
Preliminary Round, away v. Whitstable Town, won 3-1
First Qualifying Round, away v. Bognor Regis Town, drew 2-2
First Qualifying Round replay, home v. Bognor Regis Town, won 2-1
Second Qualifying Round, away v. Maidstone United, won 2-0
Third Qualifying Round, away v. St. Neots Town, drew 1-1
Third Qualifying Round replay, home v. St. Neots Town, won 1-0
Since earning promotion to non-League football's top flight, Iron's record in the FA Trophy has been disappointing with only two wins in six matches.
In 2011-12, Braintree won 1-0 at Gosport Borough in the First Round before going out at home in a penalty shoot out to Gateshead in a Second Round Replay at Cressing Road. The dreaded spot kicks were needed following a 2-2 draw in the North East and a 1-1 draw (after extra time) in the replay. Season 2012-13 saw Iron the victims of an embarrassing giant-killing as they went down by the odd goal in three at home to Conference South side Havant & Waterlooville. Last season was little better. Despite beating Welling United 3-0 at home in the First Round, Braintree were then well beaten 3-1 by Lincoln City at Cressing Road in Round Two.
This match has been designated as a category 'C' fixture with reduced admission charges in place for the third time in Braintree's last four matches at the Miles Smith Stadium. No segregation will be in place and entry will be all pay at the turnstile on the day.
St. Neots Town or AFC Sudbury to visit a week on Saturday
Braintree Town have been drawn at home to the winners of the Third Qualifying Round Replay between St. Neots Town and AFC Sudbury in the First Round of this season's FA Trophy competition. The replay will take place at AFC Sudbury's Brundon Lane stadium on Tuesday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.