Both keepers make saves that earn their sides a point
Braintree Town returned from Championship-favourites Forest Green Rovers with a point following a gritty display that earned a 1-1 draw. This was a game dominated by several excellent saves by the two keepers - the Iron's Sam Beasant and Rover's Sam Russell - that ensured both sides shared the points in the end after a highly entertaining game which saw end-to-end football all afternoon.
Beasant, who has been in fine form since returning to the Iron side after injury, pulled off two fantastic saves in either half while Russell denied Michael Cheek a minute into the second half with a great one-handed save from the striker's header and then again in the dying moments of the normal 90 minutes foiled first substitute Lee Barnard with a shot and then Jerome Okimo with his fine header.
There was even more drama in the seven minutes-plus referee Wayne Barratt added on at the end when the home side's Christian Doidge headed the ball into the net for what home fans thought was a winning goal only to be rightly denied by the assistant referee flagging for a clear offside.
It would have been an injustice had the Iron returned home empty-handed because for long periods, particularly in the first half, they contained the promotion-chasing home side, currently in second place, with a thoroughly disciplined and well organised display that continually frustrated the Rovers players from breaking down the Iron's rearguard action.
It was also a tactical battle won on the day by Iron manager Hakan Hayrettin who had fully prepared his side in setting up a system to frustrate the home side's normal free-flowing football and then catching them on the break which they repeatedly did n the game.
"We had our game plan and the players knew they had to work hard as a team, closing them down all the time in every department on the pitch and then moving the ball out quickly from defence and catching them cold in defence," he said. "It worked a treat and, but for their keeper, we would have won the game in my view because they couldn't cope with the system we played.
"We knew it was going to be difficult coming here and obviously once they had equalised that gave them confidence to push forward more and put our defence under pressure," he explained. "But again we showed what togetherness we have in the squad with players working for each other and we kept our shape and discipline.
"Overall it was a really good performance by us and the result certainly no fluke," he added. "Sam (Beasant) again made a couple of great saves at crucial periods of the game and he again showed that he is about the best keeper in this league."
The Iron overcame a difficult few early minutes in the game but nerves were calmed on 14 minutes when Cheek fired home from close range after a quick thinking Jack Midson took a quick throw-in down the left wing for Okimo to race clear before he delivered an excellent cross into the home goalmouth for Cheek.
It was a deserved lead for the Iron and twice before half time keeper Russell pulled off fine saves to deny the visitors adding a second while on 39 minutes down at the other end Beasant foiled Rob Sinclair saving his fierce first-time shot.
The turning point of the game though came 45 seconds into the restart when again the industrious Cheek picked up a right wing cross at the far post only to see Russell somehow manage to push the ball away off the goal line.
A second Iron goal then would in effect have killed off the game for the Iron but after a home side double substitution on 55 minutes it was the turn of the home fans to celebrate as Charlie Clough headed home a Liam Noble free-kick to beat Beasant in the Iron goal.
For a while the Iron's backline was put under severe pressure but unlike in the early part of the season the backline of Sean Clohessy, Jake Goodman, Manny Parry and Okimo stood firm and didn't capitulate while Beasant was on top form to deny Nolan a goal on 68 minutes.
The Iron though came back strongly and but for two late saves by Russell from Okimo and Sam Corne the Iron could well have snatched a late winner.
But in those final few minutes of added on time the home side threw everything they could at the Iron defence but Doidge's late header was correctly ruled offside.
A relieved Bessant said: "I was going to catch the high cross into the box but then changed my mind at the last moment and thought it best to punch the ball away but the player was suddenly on his own right in front of me and got to the ball first.
"I thought it was obviously offside and thankfully the assistant on the far side already had his flag up before he made contact with the ball," said Beasant. "It would have been an injustice had the goal been allowed to stand - even their players didn't argue with the decision."
On the much improved recent form of the side he said: "It's down to the gaffer and getting us more organised at the back and with a settled line-up there so everyone knows what they are going. There's a tremendous team spirit in the dressing room and I fully believe if we keep playing the way we are we can move up into the top half of the table - all the players have the same belief."
Braintree Town: Beasant; Clohessy, Goodman, Parry, Okimo; Hensall (Hall-Johnson 71), Isaac, Corne (Farrell 83), Twardek; Cheek (Barnard 89), Midson. Unused subs: Gayle, Maybanks. Attendance: 1,764 (including 47 Iron fans). Referee: Wayne Barratt.
Iron now have two weeks off to prepare for their Buildbase FA Trophy Third Round tie with Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday, 4th February. There is no fixture next Saturday as scheduled visitors, Lincoln City, are in FA Cup action.
David Bland previews tomorrow's trip to FGR
Match Preview: Sat 21 January 2017, Forest Green R v Braintree T
FGR 2nd place on 53 points.
Home Record: Played 14, Won 6, Lost 1, Drawn 7 (25 points)
Goals For: 27, Goals Against: 17
Last 4 home games: Drew 5-5 v Torquay U, Drew 1-1 v Dover A, Drew 2-2 v Tranmere R, Lost 2-3 v Lincoln C
Top scorers: Christian Doidge - 14, Keanu Marsh - Brown - 8, Rhys Murphy - 7
Braintree Town currently 18th on 30 points
Away Record: Played 14, Won 5, Lost 6, Drawn 3 (18 points)
Goals For: 16, Goals Against: 25
Last 4 away league games: Lost 3-0 v Dagenham & Redbridge, Won 0-1 v Boreham W, Drew 1-1 v Gateshead, Won 4-5 v Southport
Top scorers: Michael Cheek - 16, Lee Barnard - 6, Chez Isaac & Jack Midson - 4
Transfer/Loan news: Ebou Adams loan has finished.
Injury news: We have a fully fit squad.
Suspension news: Hall - Johnson has completed his ban. On 4 yellow cards are Jack Midson & Harry Lee.
Last meeting: 24 Sept 2016. Braintree T 0 FGR 1
DB prediction: Probably the toughest game of Hak's new look team to date, but surprisingly, FGR have not won at home since their 2-1 triumph over Aldershot on November 5th 2016. Their last home match saw them share 10 goals with lowly Torquay, so there's hope for the Iron. However they are averaging almost 2 goals a game at home and the team will have to put in hard shifts in both halves to gain something from this game. Alas I feel we may come up just a bit short, so I'm going for a 2-1 defeat.
We believe what we are proposing is deliverable, entirely self funding and at no cost to the taxpayer
The Club have seen the letter in last week's Braintree & Witham Times from Lady Newton and has responded as follows.
The Football Club have seen the letter in last week's Braintree & Witham Times from Lady Newton and we welcome her clarification on our Council's position and its view of the facts.
We agree with her that the Football Club has received support from our Council and we have been and remain grateful for that support. The £150,000 loan from our Council to the Football Club was used to cover the ground improvements necessary for us to remain at our present level but also, as they emphasised at the time, offered our Council a better return on their investment than would otherwise have been available to them. A win-win situation for us both as partners.
We are also aware of the £75,000 that was budget for the options appraisal for a new stadium, but this appraisal also reviewed the development of the remainder of what was once the entire Crittall Sports & Social Club site. The Football Club's part of the 14 acres being just 30% - the other 70% being owned by our Council. Since that appraisal, our Council has pushed on with plans to include its 70% as land earmarked for residential development, but has deleted the Football Club's 30%.
The sale of the Football Club's land by our Council in 1995 was before my time, however I am advised that our Council were very keen on the sale as it transferred our Council's previous responsibility for maintenance from them as landlord to the Football Club as new owners.
Although our Council may believe that the £45,000 sale price was 'very low', it is a price our Council were obviously content with at the time, for what I'm told were then quite basic facilities in need of much improvement, otherwise our Council would not have sold it!
Personally, I believe that the price of £45,000 was a decent return for our Council who had previously paid only a nominal amount to purchase the land back in 1973.
The Football Club never intended to make any profit out of relocation. All we are seeking is the ability to progress. From being encouraged to work with our Council in 2009 to become a partner in the new Community Stadium at Panfield Lane, we were committed to contributing and surrendering everything we owned towards the cost. As partners, we were even prepared to switch from owning our own ground to being tenants in a stadium owned by our Council.
We had worked on that basis for seven years until being jettisoned in July last year. Since then Council Officers have advised the Football Club that it should look elsewhere for a deliverable site and our latest ideas were submitted to our Council in October.
We believe what we are proposing is deliverable, entirely self funding and at no cost to the taxpayer and we welcome Lady Newton's statement that, should this be the case, our Council would support it.
As a Braintree success story we are desperate to avoid being forced out of the town we are proud to represent.
Lee Harding, Chairman & Chief Executive,
Braintree Town Football Club Limited.
New date in February
Braintree Town's Vanarama National League fixture away at Eastleigh, originally scheduled for Saturday 4th February but postponed as Iron are at in Buildbase FA Trophy action that day, has been re-arranged. The match will now take place at the Silverlake Stadium on Tuesday 14th February, wit kick-off at 7.45pm.
New date will be announced when agreed
As a result of Lincoln City's continued involvement in this season's FA Cup competition, our Vanarama National League fixture scheduled for a week on Saturday, 28th January, has been postponed. News on a revised date will be announced as soon as it is agreed.
Iron at home in the last sixteen
Braintree Town have been drawn at home to Ryman League Premier Division side Dulwich Hamlet in the Third Round of this season's Buildbase FA Trophy, at Wembley Stadium this morning. The Champion Hill club are currently fifth in the Ryman League and knocked Vanarama South side Whitehawk out, away from home, in last Saturday's Second Round 4-1. The full Third Round draw is as follows:
Welling United v Lincoln City
Braintree Town v Dulwich Hamlet
Barrow v Kidderminster Harriers
Tranmere Rovers v Chelmsford City
Macclesfield Town v Forest Green Rovers
Wealdstone v Stockport County or Brackley Town
Nuneaton Town v York City
Worthing or Sutton United v Boreham Wood
The match will take place on Saturday, 4th February.
New date will be announced when agreed
As a result of Braintree Town's progress into the last sixteen of this season's Buildbase FA Trophy, the Vanarama National League fixture at Eastleigh, originally scheduled for FA Trophy Third Round day on Saturday, 4th February, is now postponed. News on a revised date will be announced as soon as it is agreed.
Cheek hat-trick sets up Iron win
Braintree Town matched their best ever performance in the FA Trophy - reaching the last sixteen of the competition with a fine 5-2 win at East Thurrock on Saturday. A smartly taken hat-trick by the in-form Michael Cheek guided Iron into the Third Round after an initially difficult period of the game on a tricky Rookery Hill pitch.
But for a brilliant save on 19 minutes by Iron keeper Sam Beasant, denying former Town player Reece Harris from opening the scoring, it could have been a different outcome.
Beasant's save proved to be a game changing moment because once in front on 39 minutes the Iron never looked like losing out to a home side who play one level lower in the Vanarama South.
"They made it really difficult for us in that opening 20 minutes when we were sloppy in ever department and players not doing the simple thing," explained Iron manager Hakan Heyrettin. "It took a great save from Sam to keep us level and it was a much needed wake-up call too.
"Yes, the muddy and uneven pitch was a leveller but we knew what to expect and they are a decent enough team but at the beginning we were playing in fits and starts," he continued. "Once we scored it gave players more confidence and we then started to play how we can and from then on the result was not in doubt."
Hayrettin, who gave a first start winger Alex Henshall and with Millwall loanee Kris Twardek on the other flank, both caused problems down the wings all afternoon with their speed and ball control.
The two other changes from the team that beat Sutton United in midweek was the return of Norwich City loanee Ebou Adams in midfield and Jake Goodman in the centre of defence at the expense of Ian Gayle with Sam Corne and Lee Barnard on the subs' bench.
After surviving that difficult first 20 minutes it was Cheek's opening goal - a superbly taken free-kick 25 yards out that rocketed into the top corner of the home net - that calmed Iron nerves and right on half time it was Cheek and his never-say-die attitude that gave his side the all important second goal.
He chased down home keeper Lukas Lidakevicius as he attempted to kick the ball out but it cannoned off the striker running kindly behind the keeper leaving Cheek to score with a simply tap-in.
At half time the home side fans probably felt aggrieved at the scoreline because their side had done more than enough to have at least been on level terms.
The game though was effectively over as a contest 50 second into the restart when in their first attack Jack Midson slipped a fine ball through to Cheek who ran on, rounding keeper Lidakevicius, to slide the ball into the unguarded net.
There was brief respite for the home side on 49 minute when much to the amazement of all fans referee Christopher O'Donnell decided an Iron player had allegedly handled the ball as it was swung over the from a corner on the right.
It was left to Sam Higgins to fire the spot kick past keeper Beasant but any thoughts by home fans in the 313 watching crowd that there might be a revival for them quickly banished completely on 56 minutes when another fine attack move by the Iron saw Midson head home from close range after his first headed effort had come back off the bar.
At 4-1 the Iron still keep pressing for more goals and again Midson was so close to adding his second but a great first time header went narrowly over the bar.
The fifth goal though duly came on 56 minutes when substitute Lee Barnard drove the ball past the home keeper after excellent wing play by Henshall.
On 61 minutes the Iron again had the ball in the net through Cheek but mysteriously referee O'Donnell blew for an apparent foul on the build up by Goodman although both sides thought it was legitimate as they had started to line-up for a restart from the centre spot.
With Manager Hayrettin making three Iron substitutions in the closing stage his side kept up the pressure on the home defence and they could well have had at least two or three more goals in the closing stages.
The one goal that did count came on the 90th minute in a rare breakaway by the side Higgins managed to stab home a loose ball in the Iron box but by then the game was over as a contest and the Iron progress into the Third Round.
"Overall I was pleased with our play, despite those few early minutes, and we kept our shape and crucially our discipline and that's what we must do in every game," he said. "We need to keep winning games because that breeds confidence of the players and the whole team as a unit.
"We now have a week to prepare for a really tough game away to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday," he added. "This was Ebou Adams last game on loan but I am hoping that we can keep him for a bit longer and that something I shall be working on this week."
Braintree Town: Beasant; Glohessy, Goodman, Parry, Okimo; Henshall (Maybanks 73), Isaac, Adams (Farrell 75), Twardek; Cheek (Barnard 66), Midson. Unused subs: Rumens, Corne. Referee: Christopher O'Donnell. Attendance: 313
Next game for the Iron is away in the Vanarama National League to Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, 21st January, with kick off 3pm.
Pitch passes 9am inspection
Following a 9am pitch inspection today's Buildbase FA Trophy Second Round tie at East Thurrock United goes ahead, with kick-off at 3pm. Postcode for your sat navs: SS17 9LB.
David Bland previews tomorrow's FA Trophy trip to East Thurrock United
Buildbase FA Trophy Second Round - Saturday 14 January 2017
East Thurrock United v Braintree Town
East Thurrock 9th place on 33 points in National League South
Home Record: Played 12, Won 3, Lost 1, Drawn 8 (17 points)
Goals For: 23, Goals Against: 12
Last 4 home games (not inc Essex SC): Drew 1-1 v Concord R, Won 5-1 v Truro, Drew 1-1 v Aldershot (FAT), Won 2-0 v Margate (FAT)
Top scorers: T. Wraight - 14, S. Higgins - 13, B. Marlow - 6
Braintree Town currently 18th on 30 points
Away Record: Played 14, Won 5, Lost 6, Drawn 3 (18 points)
Goals For: 14, Goals Against: 23
Last 4 away league games: Lost 3-0 v Dagenham & Redbridge, Won 0-1 v Boreham W, Drew 1-1 v Gateshead, Won 4-5 v Southport
Top scorers: Michael Cheek -13, Lee Barnard - 5, Isaac -4
Transfer/Loan news: Nothing new to report.
Injury news: We have a fully fit squad.
Suspension news: Ebou Adams has completed his ban, Hall-Johnson out for 1 more game.
DB prediction: After a much needed win at home against Sutton United, the Iron travel to South Essex to take on East Thurrock United, looking to progress to the last 16 of the FA Trophy. The hosts have already disposed of Margate and Aldershot thus far, whilst the Iron overcame Torquay United 2-0 thanks to 2 Jack Midson goals.
Whilst ETU's home form is nothing to write home about, they have only lost once on their own patch and as Aldershot found out, are not that easy to overcome. Let's hope that a full strength Braintree squad is too much for our hosts and we certainly don't want a replay. The conditions may be a bit of a leveller, but I'm sticking with the boys to see it through at the first time of asking with a 2-1 win.
Tuesday replay if we draw Saturday
This coming Saturday, 14th January, Iron take a break from League action to visit Vanarama South side East Thurrock United for their Buildbase FA Trophy Second Round fixture. Admission at Rookery Hill on Saturday will be: Adults £12, Concessions £6 and Under 16s £2. Should the match finish as a draw, the replay will be at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium the following Tuesday evening, 17th January, with kick-off at 7.45pm. If required, price for the replay will be a Category C fixture.
The draw for the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy will be made on Monday, 16th January and, should Braintree Town be included, we hope to have details on the Club site from lunchtime onwards.
Unless Chelmsford City draw in the FA Trophy on Saturday we will send a Braintree Town XI to Chelmsford for a BBC Essex Senior Cup fifth round tie on Monday, 16th January, with kick-off at (please note) 7.30pm.
On Saturday, 28th January, we are due to be at home to Lincoln City in another Vanarama National League fixture. However this date is FA Cup Fourth Round day and, should Lincoln City progress in the competition, their FA Cup tie that day will take precedence and our league match will be postponed and re-arranged for a later date.
Finally, our Vanarama National League fixture on the last day of the season, Saturday, 29th April, when we visit Aldershot Town - will now kick-off at 12.15pm.
Cheek scores the winner as Iron keep clean sheet
Thanks to a gritty, workmanlike and hard graft second half performance, Iron held on to win this tough game at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium on Tuesday evening giving them three much needed points as they try to continue to ease themselves away from the foot of the table.
It wasn't always pretty to watch but Iron ground out a result which was all that mattered and they had to thank keeper Sam Beasant who pulled off two fantastic second half saves, while the woodwork denied the visitors' experienced striker Matt Tubbs of a possible late equaliser.
It left Iron manager Hakan Hayrettin delighted with the way his side refused to concede goals in the second half as they did in the previous home against Chester and he praised their individual passion and desire in responding to that defeat and to come back to win all three points in this game.
"Overall we deserved to win and I felt we controlled the first half, scored a good goal and then in the second half held our nerve, kept battling away and showed what great team spirit and togetherness we have in the squad," he continued. "We knew it wasn't going to be a classic and they are a good side, on a fine cup run and obviously wanted to stay unbeaten in time for their FA Cup replay.
"We had to dig in hard in the second half but I was always positive that we could get the win we so badly needed," he continued. "We now go to East Thurrock on Saturday in the FA Trophy full of confidence and again we know that it will another hard game, but we're going there to try to win it."
Keeping with the same eleven that started against Chester, Iron included newly signed 19 year-old midfielder Kyron Farrell on loan from Millwall on the substitutes' bench. The game was scrappy at times but, in the first half, Iron always looked the more likely side to score.
Twice early on the other Millwall youngster on loan - Kris Twardek - set up chances with fine left wing crosses, the first a header from Jack Midson that went narrowly over and the second flashed across the box with no Iron striker on hand to connect.
The breakthrough came on 36 minutes when Twardek won the ball on the left, fed it through to Chez Isaac who in turn laid the ball through to Michael Cheek. For a moment it looked as if the chance was gone but the never-say-die commitment of Cheek saw him dig the ball out from defenders' legs, turn and fire a fine low shot past keeper Ross Worner.
It was just the boost Iron needed but the start of the second half saw the visitors showing more movement from midfield. On 55 minutes Beasant was forced into a great save to deny Maxime Biamou and, 12 minutes later, the Iron defence was caught napping and they allowed substitute Craig McAllister to race clear one-on-one. Again Beasant read the situation and brilliantly blocked the shot with his feet.
Iron, having survived a bout of pressure from the visitors, came back strongly in the final stages of the game with Cheek (twice) and Barnard going clear on goal only to be denied by first keeper Worner and defender Dean Beckwith's last ditch tackles.
The visitors almost snatched an equaliser on 88 minutes when the vastly experienced Tubbs rifled a low shot from just outside the penalty box only to see it strike the post and rebound out.
But Iron finished the stronger side in the five minutes of added time and again Cheek and Isaac went so close to adding a second for the home side.
The welcome return of central defender Jake Goodman, on as a 65th minute substitute, having been out injured since the end of November, certainly helped to shore up the Iron defence when under pressure and with midfielder Ebou Adams coming back from suspension and available again this Saturday manager Hayrettin will have the luxury of a stronger squad on tap for their next three really tough league games, against Forest Green Rovers, Lincoln City and Eastleigh.
Up next for Iron though is the FA Trophy game at East Thurrock on Saturday and if a replay is necessary it will be at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium on Tuesday evening, 17th January, kick off 7.45pm.
Braintree Town: Besant; Clohessy, Okimo, Gayle, Parry (Goodman 65); Midson, Isaac, Corne (Lee 74), Twardek; Barnard (Farrell 90), Cheek. Unused subs: Maybanks, Hensall. Attendance: 568. Referee: Alan Young.
Millwall midfielder joins for rest of season
Iron Manager Hakan Hayrettin continued his squad building with the signing of Millwall midfield player Kyron Farrell on loan until the end of the season from League One side Millwall. Nineteen years of age, Kyron signed his first professional contract in May last year and was included in the twenty man squad for the Republic of Ireland at Under 19 level in September 2015. He made his Millwall debut in the Football League Trophy in November.
David Bland previews tonight's visit by Sutton United
Tuesday 10 January 2017 - Braintree Town v Sutton United
Sutton United: 14th place on 35 points.
Away Record: Played 12, Won 1, Lost 8, Drawn 3 (6 points).
Goals For: 10, Goals Against: 20.
Last 4 away league games: Lost 1-0 v Bromley, Lost 1-0 v Boreham Wood, Lost 2-1 v N Ferriby U, Drew 2-2 v York C.
Top scorers: Jamie Collins - 6, Nicky Bailey, Maxime Biamou, Roarie Deacon & Ross Stearn - 5.
Braintree Town currently 18th on 27 points.
Home Record: Played 13, Won 2, Lost 8, Drawn 3 (9 points).
Goals For: 14, Goals Against: 23.
Last 4 home league games: Lost 1-2 v Chester, Won 3-2 v Dagenham & Redbridge, Drew 2-2 v Bromley, Lost 0-1 v Tranmere R.
Top scorers: Michael Cheek -12, Lee Barnard - 5, Isaac - 4.
Transfer/Loan news: Ex Col U youngster Jordan Sanderson signs.
Injury news: Nothing new to report.
Suspension news: Ebou Adams out for 1 more game, Hall-Johnson out for 2 more games.
Last meeting: 13 September 2016 Sutton U 1 Braintree 2 (Isaac 2, 1- pen).
DB prediction: After the game of 2 halves against Chester in which the Iron couldn't reap the rewards of their first half endeavours, we welcome Sutton U to Cressing Road hoping for our first double of the season having secured our first away win of the season at Gander Green Lane back in Sept 2016. The U's have not travelled well this season with their only victory to date coming at Boreham Wood on 22 November 2016.
So it's a meeting of the worst home record in the league against one of the worst away records in the league. I'm staying optimistic in spite of recent blips and am going for an Iron victory, 2-0.
Ahead at the break, Iron let it slip
Iron endured a game of two halves with the home side completely dominating the first playing their best football of the season, creating chance after chance but only finding the net once through a brilliant Jack Midson headed goal on 31 minutes although they should have been at least four goals to the good at the interval.
The second half was in complete contrast as the previously dominant Iron midfield went missing, the defence sat deeper and deeper inviting the visitors to attack, which they did taking two of their three chances to win a game they never looked like doing so in the first 45 minutes.
Those Iron first half missed chances certainly came back to haunt them as they allowed the visitors' pacey striker James Alabi so much time and space to score on the hour and then snatch a winner six minutes from time.
"Frustrating and really annoying" was how an Iron manager Hakan Heyrettin summed up his side's second showing "because some players stopped doing what they were told and had been doing so well in the first half and deciding to do things their own way."
He went on: "We had enough chances in the first half to have put the game to bed - even their manager admitted that - but if you don't take them you get punished and that's what happened because the second half was terrible.
"They had two shots on goal and scored in that second half and we had two shots on target then too but didn't score," he explained. "It's such a fine margin in a game of football but we should have been home and dry with a four goal lead at the interval."
He added: "The players did so well too in the first half to come back so strongly after our New Year's Day defeat at Dagenham & Redbridge but we simply didn't keep it up for the 90 minutes.
"I'll make some changes for Tuesday's home game against Sutton United and I expect all the players to respond properly and make sure we win and pick up three points," he added.
The one bright spot of the afternoon was the impressive debut of loanee winger Kris Twardek from Millwall who gave the Iron excellent wide play and his pace created problems for the visitors and he laid on a fine left wing cross for Midson to open the scoring.
It's the first time this season, probably since Dan Sparkes moved to Torquay United in the summer, that the Iron had a speedy left winger who can deliver crosses into the opposition area.
"I really enjoyed it and felt we controlled the game completely in the first half and with the chances we created we should have won so it was disappointing to lose," said the 19 year-old who is on a 28-day loan. "There's a great spirit in the team and I'm confident we can do better for 90 minutes, win games and keep moving up the table."
The other newcomer, former Margate midfielder Alex Henshall, came on for the last 20 minutes and could have crowned his debut with a goal but for a great save by visiting keeper Alex Lynch, who also denied Twardek twice from scoring, pushing his low shots away for corners.
Such was the Iron's first half dominance they won nine corners to the visitors' one and on 22 minutes only a goal line clearance by Elliott Durrell prevented Jerome Okimo from finding his first goal for the Iron.
With Lee Barnard leading the line well with Michael Cheek and nicely supported in the first half by the midfield it was the positive way the Iron kept passing and moving the ball up field that the visitors simply couldn't cope with making it even more frustrating that they were not at least four goals to the good by the interval.
But then it all changed with the Iron defence sitting deeper and deeper in the second half with no midfield to pass to and resorting to pump, high hopeless ball up to the front two it just invited the visitors to take hold of the game which they did for most of the half.
In the final five minutes of the game the Iron again had two late chances to have possibly snatched an equaliser but both efforts from Twardek and Barnard were scrambled away by defenders.
The Iron's attention now turns to Tuesday when they entertain Sutton United in a re-arranged league game at home, kick off 7 45pm.
Braintree Town: Beasant; Clohessy, Okimo, Gayle, Parry; Isaac (Maybanks 83), Corne (Lee 78), Midson; Barnard, Cheek (Henshall 70). Unused subs: Goodman, McNamara (goalkeeper). Attendance: 707. Referee: Adam Bromley (Plymouth).
David Bland previews Saturday's visit by Chester
Sat 7 January 2017 - Braintree Town v Chester, kick-off: 3pm
Chester 10th place on 39 points.
Away Record: Played 13, Won 2, Lost 4, Drawn 7 (13 points).
Goals For: 14, Goals Against: 17.
Last 4 away league games: Lost 3-2 Solihull Moors, Drew 1-1 Guiseley, Won 0-3 Eastleigh, Drew 2-2 Tranmere R.
Top scorers: James Alabi - 8, Kane Richards - 7, Elliott Durell & Tom Shaw - 6.
Braintree Town currently 18th on 27 points.
Home Record: Played 12, Won 2, Lost 7, Drawn 3 (9 points).
Goals For: 13, Goals Against: 21.
Last 4 home league games: Won 3-2 Dagenham & Redbridge, Drew 2-2 Bromley, Lost 0-1 Tranmere R, Lost 0-1 Solihull M.
Top scorers: Michael Cheek -12, Lee Barnard - 5, Isaac - 4.
Transfer/Loan news: Akinola has signed for Barnet. Loans ended for Patterson, Goodship, Matthews. New loan signing Kris Twardek a midfielder from Millwall.
Injury news: Good news for Hak with Ashton, Goodman and Braham-Barrett all fit to resume and need game time.
Suspension news: Ebou Adams out for 2 more games, Hall-Johnson starts 3 game ban.
Last meeting: 17 September 2016 Chester 1 Braintree 0.
DB prediction: This week's visitors to the Ironmongery Direct Stadium are draw specialists Chester, who have managed 7 draws from their 13 away games thus far, including three 0-0s. Their only wins coming at North Ferriby & Eastleigh. The Iron now need to bring their form on the road back home and resume winning ways after their defeat in Dagenham.
Stats suggest that Chester set their stall out to gain a point, so it's imperative that the Iron get their noses in front. I'm going for 2-1 Braintree! COYI!
Two midfielders join the squad
Braintree boss Hakan Hayrettin has continued his squad building with the signing of two more players today. Joining the club are 22-year old midfielder Alex Henshall from Margate and 23-year old midfielder Jordan Sanderson from Senior League side Haringey & Waltham.
Alex Henshall joined Manchester City from Swindon Town in June 2010, after being named on the Swindon substitute's bench twice. Henshall spent eight years at Swindon Town as part of the academy setup before joining Manchester City as a 16-year old for an undisclosed fee. He then had loan spells at Chesterfield and Bristol Rovers and he scored his first professional career goal in a 2-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley. In March 2014, Henshall joined Championship side Ipswich Town on a youth loan until the end of the 2013-14 season. After leaving Manchester City in the summer of 2014, Henshall joined Ipswich Town as a free agent by signing a two-year contract on 27 June 2014. He joined Championship rivals Blackpool in a month-long loan deal in January 2015. In March 2016, Henshall signed for Scottish Premiership club Kilmarnock, agreeing a contract until the end of last season. He started this season at Margate before switching to Braintree Town. Henshall has also played for England at under-16 and under-17. He played in all of England's games at the 2011 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship, helping England reach the semi-finals and also represented England at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, playing in the final group-stage game and helped England to reach the quarter-final stage.
Jordan Sanderson came through the Academy at Colchester United, where he made two Football League appearances. He featured for Chelmsford City on loan before joining Ebbsfleet United. He made just one league appearance for the club while spending time on loan at Lewes and Grays Athletic. He then began playing for Greek Football League side Chania in September 2015. He made his debut on 29 September in a 1-0 win at Pankritio Stadium over Ergotelis, before scoring his first professional goal in the Greek Cup win against Olympiacos Volou in October.
19-year old joins from Millwall
Iron Manager Hakan Hayrettin has moved into the loan market to strengthen his first team squad. Joining Iron on a short-term loan is 19 year old midfield/winger Kris Twardek from SkyBet League One side Millwall.
Born in Toronto and raised in Ottawa. His father is Czech and his mother is Canadian. He began playing with West Carleton SC at the age of five and then graduated from the Ottawa South United Academy before signing for Millwall. He made his senior debut for Millwall on 30 August 2016, in an EFL Trophy game against West Bromwich Albion under-23s.
Twardek switched his international allegiance from the Czech Republic to Canada last year and was nominated for Canada's Under-20 Player of the Year award.
Rash challenge leaves Braintree a mountain to climb
Iron's recent revival came to an end at Victoria Road on Bank Holiday Monday evening when they were beaten by promotion chasing Dagenham & Redbridge having been forced to play three-quarters of the game with only 10 men.
The turning point of the game came on 20 minutes when a rash two-footed tackle by Reece Hall Johnson on the home side's Frankie Raymond left referee Antony Coggins little alternative but to show the Iron youngster a straight red card.
Already a goal down after only 11 minutes when Jordan Maguire-Drew tapped the ball in the Iron net after some poor defending then losing a player meant it was going to be an uphill struggle for the rest of the evening which it turned out to be allowing the home side to collect comparatively three easy points.
There was no need for Hall Johnson to make such a tackle on the half way line in the first place and his dismissal really cost the Iron any chance of taking something from the game.
"I'm disappointed to have lost the game and obviously to play with a man short for three-quarters of the game was a really difficult call," said Iron manager Hakan Hayrettin. "We didn't play with the same verve or pace either as we did in the game against them on Boxing Day, but I felt if we could have pulled a goal back early in the second half we stood a chance of probably getting a point.
"But it didn't happen and we now have to learn from the game, knuckle down and get ourselves fully prepared for the next two games which are at home and get back to winning ways," he added.
Hayrettin was forced to make two changes to his starting line-up with Harry Lee coming in for the suspended Ebou Adams and young Joe Maybanks coming in for Simeon Akinola, sold to Barnet on New Year's Eve.
The Iron started off slowly allowing the home side to control the game, particularly in midfield, so it was no surprise when Maguire-Drew opening the scoring and he could have added a quick second three minutes after netted again but his when left unmarked at the far post but he put his shot into the side netting.
The Iron remained on the back foot for the rest of the half and disappointingly conceded a second goal three minutes before half time when Luke Gutteridge forged his way through the Iron defence to drive the ball home past keeper Sam Beasant.
The second half did see the Iron improve although the home side still had plenty of play, but a tactical switch on 65 minutes saw the Iron play with a back three, including substitute Zak Jules leaving full-backs Sean Clohessy and Jerome Okimo to push forward and it began to pay off.
The nearest though the Iron came to scoring was a Michael Cheek header on 79 minutes from a wing cross by substitute Sam Corne which went narrowly wide but within a minute the home side added their third goal on the counter attack.
It came from Corey Whitely with a deflected shot that gave keeper Beasant no chance and the game then petered out in the final minutes in an evening most of the 102 Iron fans in the 1,261 crowd will, like the players, probably want to forget!
Next up for the Iron is a home match against Chester on Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Braintree Town: Beasant; Clohessy, Okimo, Gayle, Parry; Maybanks (Jules 65), Isaac, Lee (Corne 75), Hall Johnson; Cheek (Barnard 86), Midson. Unused subs: Williams, Dias.
Iron favourite goes with our blessing
Braintree Town have accepted an offer from Sky Bet League Two side Barnet to sign Sim Akinola. Sim Joined Iron in 2014 from Ryman League side Harrow Borough. The 24-year old striker started his youth career in Madrid before coming to the UK, where he spent two years at Earlsmead. In his two years at Braintree, Sim made 118 appearances, scoring 22 goals.
Chairman Lee Harding was quick to praise the Braintree favourite: "Sim has had a remarkable two years with our Club and goes into the full time game with our blessing and our best wishes. A fine example for many aspiring youngsters to follow, we have every belief that Sim will go on to great things in the game. It is perhaps fitting that he signed off his time at Braintree with our winner against Dagenham on Boxing Day.
From a business viewpoint, we are all aware that Sim will be a free agent in May and would, I'm sure, have received many offers. That said, we were not looking to sell one of our better players, but Barnet were quite persistent with their interest and, when the fee was agreed, we felt it was right for both the Club and Sim to discuss the possibility of going full time.
The proceeds of the move will now be used to help manager Hakan develop our squad and help the Club with our primary aim of consolidating our place in the National League. Finally, I spoke with Sim and he asked me to pass on his very best wishes to all at the Club for their backing and support. Good luck for the future Sim!"
Next up in David Bland's player interviews is Michael Cheek
DOB 23/8/91 (25) Born: Nuneaton. Previous clubs: Port Vale, Stanway R, Heybridge S, Chelmsford City.
Q. Do you have another job?
A. Yes, I work in a call centre dealing with breakdowns.
Q. Who do you support?
A. Manchester U
Q. Who was your boyhood hero?
A. Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Q. Last gig you attended?
A. Ed Sheeran
Q. Do you partake of any other sport?
A. Yes, fishing.
Q. Best and worst grounds you've played at?
A. Best - Wrexham. Worst - Whitehawk
Q. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
A. Strength - Good in the air, awareness. Weakness - concentration.
Q. Who is the toughest defender you've come up against in this League?
A. Matt Fry, hated playing against him in training, he trained like he played!
Q. Best goal for Braintee?
A. Opener against Millwall in FA Cup this season.
Q. Do you set yourself a goal target?
A. Yes - 20
Q. Will you pass last season's 17 goals?
Q. At what level do you think you can play?
A. Higher, but not sure how high.
Q. Who are the quickest/slowest players at the club?
A. Quickest - Sim. Slowest - Chez
Q. Who is the team joker/moaner?
A. Joker - Chez. Moaner - Sim
Q. With the exodus in the summer, did anyone come in for you?
A. Yes, some interest from Dover.
Q. How do you pass the time on long away trips?
A. Play cards (poker)
Q. If you could change/bring in any rule what would it be?
A. Obstruction, players running across never seem to get penalised.
Q. Who is currently the best player in English football in your position?
Q. If you could play for any current manager in England, who would it be and why?
A. Conte, he would bring fire to my game.
Q. Who will win the National League this season?
A. Lincoln City.
Boxing Day win over Dagenham & Redbridge lifts Iron to 18th
Braintree Town made it five successive unbeaten games in the league to take all three points in this fiesty Boxing Day affair at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium against their nearest neighbours in which saw both sides end up with 10-men.
It also left Iron manager Hakan Hayrettin delighted at putting one over his old boss John Still but, more importantly, securing another vital three points that moves his side up to 18th in the league and further away from the relegation zone.
"I think overall we shaded it and deserved to win although we didn't play particularly well in the first half yet came in at the interval 2-1 up," he said. "We then gave away a soft penalty within a minute of the restart but full credit to the boys they again showed such great resilience, spirit and determination to take control of the second half and score the goal that gave us victory and we could added a couple of more before the end.
"I think it showed to the home fans in the 1,353 crowd at the game what we are about in playing as a team with tremendous spirit and togetherness and everyone out there has the passion and desire to win every game," said Hayrettin. "We knew what to expect from them and we had our game plan and it worked and with us grafting so hard as a group it paid off."
One of the Iron's outstanding players on the day was central defender Manny Parry who said that in his short time with the manager and players they were fast developing a fantastic team spirit with everyone working for one another.
"We knew it was going to be a really tough game today because they have come down from the Football League with its huge financial parachute payment and they are full-time and desperately keen to get back up again," he said. "But I felt it was a deserved win in the end and with such a great team spirit led by the gaffer we know we can continue to do well and improve further and continue to climb up the table."
The first half was a fair tepid affair with the Iron lacking the fast pace of their game they showed in the midweek win at Boreham Wood and it was the visitors who struck first with Oliver Hawkins heading home on 32 minutes with the home defence caught cold.
But three minutes later the Iron were level thanks to a brilliant first time strike by the in-form Michael Cheek and right on half time they took the lead from the penalty spot courtesy of Sim Akinola.
But within a minute of the restart it looked like going all wrong for the Iron when right-back Sean Clohessy was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area leaving Hawkins the chance to level from the spot.
But Iron keeper Sam Beasant brilliantly parried his shot but unfortunately for the Iron the third rebound was whipped into the net by Jordan Maguire-Drew for the equaliser.
Undeterred the Iron continued to push forward with Cheek and Jack Midson leading the line so well and causing the visitors' rearguard all kinds of problems and their hopes for victory were further dashed on 60 minutes when their skipper Scott Doe was sent off for a second yellow card after committing a dreadful tackle on Reece Hall-Johnson.
Four minutes later the Iron broke clear again down the left and it was Akinola who cut inside defenders to drive a low, right-foot shot into the far corner of the visitors' net past the unsighted keeper Elliot Justham.
Despite make three substitutions, bringing on more forwards in a bid to get something from the game it was the Iron who should have scored again with both Akinola and Cheek being denied what looked like certain goals by last ditch tackles by the visitors defence.
Iron's caused was not then helped by loanee midfielder Ebou Adams being shown a straight red card by referee Anthony Serrano for a poor tackle on 73 minutes.
With the numbers evened up both sides pressed hard to score and both goalkeepers were kept extremely busy with the Iron's Sam Beasant making a magnificent one-handed save deep into the eight minutes of added time at the end to ensure his team won and kept their three points.
"We knew they would have a late go at us putting on more forwards to snatch an equaliser but the boys were fantastic and held on in some style to make sure we won the game," added Hayrettin.
Braintree Town: Beasant; Clohessy, Okimo, Parry, Gayle (Jules 83); Isaac, Hall-Johnson (Lee 76), Adams, Akinola (Patterson 86). Unused subs: Corne, Barnard. Attendance: 1,353. Referee: Anthony Serrano.
Next up for the Iron is the return game at Dagenham & Redbridge on Monday, 2nd January, with kick off at 7.45pm.
David Bland previews our two games against Dagenham & Redbridge
This Boxing Day afternoon Braintree Town welcome Dagenham & Redbridge to the IronmongeryDirect Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm, and play the return at Victoria Road next Monday night, 2nd January, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Dagenham & Redbridge currently 4th place on 46 points. Home Record: Played 13, Won 6, Lost 4, Drawn 3 (21 points). Goals For: 14, Goal Against: 13. Away Record: Played 12, Won 8, Lost 3, Drawn 1 (25 points). Goals For: 20, Goals Against: 11.
Last 4 home League games: Drew 4-4 Solihull M, Lost 0-1 Torquay U, Lost 1-4 Barrow, Lost 0-5 Gateshead. Last 4 away league games: Won 1-2 Dover Won 0-1 Maidstone, Won 0-2 York C, Drew 1-1 Forest Green Rovers. Top scorers: Oliver Hawkins - 13, Jordan Maguire-Drew, Corey Whiteley - 6.
Braintree Town currently 20th on 24 points. Away Record: Played 13, Won 5, Lost 5, Drawn 3 (18 points). Goals For: 12, Goals Against: 23. Last 4 home league games: Last 4 away League games: Won Boreham Wood 0-1, Drew 1-1 Gateshead, Won Southport 4-5, Won Wrexham 0-1. Top scorers: Michael Cheek - 9, Lee Barnard - 5, Simeon Akinola - 4.
DB prediction: Braintree's only home league game this month! It's a holiday double header against promotion seeking Dagenham & Redbridge. Daggers have been excellent on their travels this season winning 8 out of 12 fixtures. They have scored 20 goals and conceded 11. For the home game I'm going 1-1.
As for the return well, at home, D&R haven't fared as well, not having won at home since Oct 25, a 1-0 victory against Aldershot. For the return fixture, I'm going 1-2 Braintree!
Iron out of the bottom four for Christmas
Putting in one of their best performances of the season, Iron overcame quite a robust Boreham Wood side playing their direct football style with long balls up to their forwards to record a fully deserved win that moves them out of the relegation zone.
Iron completely dominated the first half and should have been a couple of goals to the good and were only denied by fine saves by home keeper Grant Smith.
They continued their dominance in the second half and were rewarded when Michael Cheek poked the ball home in a goalmouth scramble on 63 minutes and despite a late flurry of pressure from the home side in the four minutes of added on time during which a superb save by keeper Sam Beasant ensured they returned home with all three points.
A delighted manager Hakan Hayrettin, admitting the win and points was 'the best Christmas present I could have,' felt his team fully deserved their success and should have won by a bigger margin.
"The first half we played the best football since I have been here and the only disappointment was that we didn't score at least two goals," he said. "Simeon Akinola's great free-kick was somehow kept out by their keeper and Reece Hall-Johnson crashed his fine hard shot into the side netting with the keeper beaten."
The home side's cause was not helped either when key central defender David Stephens was sent off on 56 minutes for hauling down Hall-Johnson, receiving his second yellow card and, although the home came back strongly late on, Iron held on for an important win.
"I would have been very upset had they nicked an equaliser in injury time, much like Gateshead did on Saturday, but again Sam Beasant pulled off a magnificent late save to give us the win," he continued. "But the overall team performance for the 90 minutes was outstanding and shows what a great team spirit and what we are slowly building while we have also kept a clean sheet on the night which is also important."
Hayrettin, who was forced to bring in central defender Ian Gayle following a dead leg injury to Reading loanee Zak Jules at Gateshead, also made two other tactical changes bringing in Reece-Johnson and giving Norwich City youngster Ebou Adams his first start.
"I deliberated over the weekend and decided to make the change knowing that Reece was chomping at the bit to have a full game and his pace down the flank would cause them problem - which it did," he explained. "Ebou I can remember how good he was at Dartford and why Norwich then paid money for him and again he gave us that bit extra pace and pressure on opponents in the middle of the park.
"Thankfully both changes worked out but it was a fantastic show by all the boys but we know there's still further room for continued improvement and we now move on to two tough holiday games against Dagenham & Redbridge," he added.
In-form Cheek said he was delighted to have scored his 11th goal of the season and the fourth consecutive league game in which he has scored and he added: "It was a scrappy goal but they all count and I seem to be scoring regularly at present and long may it continue.
"I felt we deserved to win as we should have done on Saturday and we should have been at least 2-0 up at the interval because we completely dominated the first half," he continued. "My goal and the win was really for the gaffer because he has worked so hard in such a short time to get us playing the best so far this season and there's such now a great confidence in the side I'm sure we'll start moving up the table."
It was certainly an all round impressive display by the Iron with a back line defence that looks far more solid than at the start of the season while Chez Isaac and Adams in midfield never let the home take control, even forcing former key Iron midfielder Kenny Davis ineffectual and being subbed early in the second half.
Even when the home side did respond better in the second half, ironically more so after Stephens' dismissal, the Iron defence soaked up all the pressure helped by such a dominating performance by Beasant in goal.
Braintree Town: Beasant; Clohessy, Parry,, Gayle, Okimo; Reece-Johnson, Isaac, Adams, Akinola; Cheek (Barnard 90+2), Midson. Unused subs: Lee, Corne, Patterson, Rumens. Referee: David Rock. Attendance: 313.
Next up for the Iron is the Boxing Day Vanarama National League match at home to Dagenham & Redbridge, kick off: 3pm.
Penalty sees Iron denied three points
Iron were within five minutes of returning from their long day trip to the North East with deservedly all three points but they conceded a late penalty to end up with just one point leaving manager Hakan Hayrettin a frustrated man.
"To give away a late goal was so disappointing particularly after such a solid afternoon's performance from the boys," he declared. "We could then have still nicked it in added on injury time but somehow their defender managed to kick Manny Parry's close-range shot off the line.
"But I am pleased with the team's overall performance because we showed great commitment and we did a professional job on the home side," he continued. "To come up here and back in a day and get at least a point is tremendous and I feel we are continuing to make progress in the right direction in every game."
Hayrettin, who retained the same starting line-up that beat Torquay 2-0 in the FA Trophy game the previous Saturday, went on: "There's certainly no panic even though we know our position in the league and we have to start getting more points on the board to move up away from the relegation zone.
"We will do it certainly when the players give me 100 per cent as they have in this game," he continued. "I thought we were looked more composed throughout the game and yes there are still areas we need to work on but that will come."
Defensively the Iron looked as strong as they have for several games with the new found central defensive pairing of new signing Manny Parry and new loan signing Zak Jules from Reading.
"They have quickly got to know one another and in this game they both shone out in keeping quiet what were a lively front home line," he said. "Again we can build on that and again we shall competition for places with the likes of defender Jake Goodman and others coming back from injury."
With a wet and slippery playing surface it was difficult for the Iron to get into their stride in the first half with the only real goal threat coming on six minutes when Parry's header was headed off the line and over the bar for corner by a home defender.
Both sides though lacked any penetration in what was a disappointing first half but shortly after the restart it with striking partners Jack Midson and Michael Cheek creating problems for the home rearguard whenever they could while up at the other end Iron keeper Sam Beasant was on form to three times deny the home attack with good saves.
The deadlock was finally broken on 62 minutes when Iron substitute Reece Hall-Johnson drilled in a left wing corner to the near post where Cheek nipped in between two defenders for a typical goal-poacher's goal.
With extra confidence the Iron pushed for a second goal and both Midson with a header and a first time shot by Chez Isaac almost scored but all the Iron's good second half work was undone on 84 minutes when young Iron debutant and substitute Ebou Adams was adjudged by referee Peter Wright to have handled a high ball into the visitors' area to concede a penalty.
Paddy McLaughlin duly dispatched the spot kick low into the net beating the diving Beasant to level the scores.
The home side then pushed forward and Beasant again had to make another smart save whilst at the other end there was further frustration for the Iron when Parry's low close-range drive was somehow scrambled off the home goal line.
Braintree Town: Beasant; Clohessy, Jules, Parry, Okimo; Isaac (Adams 75), Lee, Patterson (Hall-Johnson 58), Akinola; Cheek (Barnard 90+2), Midson. Unused subs: Maybanks, Rumens. Attendance: 501 (25 Iron supporters). Referee: Peter Wright.
Next up for the Iron is the rearranged league match at Boreham Wodd on Tuesday evening, kick off 7.45pm.
DB goes for a 2-2 draw
David Bland previews Saturday's trip to Gateshead.
Gateshead currently 12th place on 34 points. Home Record: Played 12, Won 4, Lost 2, Drawn 6 (18 points). Goals For: 20, Goal Against: 11. Last 4 home League games: Lost 0-1 Tranmere Rovers, Drew 1-1 Macclesfield Town, Drew 2-2 Eastleigh, Drew 2-2 Wrexham. Top scorers: Danny Johnson - 10, Sam Jones - 8, Wes York - 5.
Braintree Town currently 21st on 20 points. Away Record: Played 11. Won 4, Lost 5, Drawn 2 (14 points). Goals For: 12, Goals Against: 23. Last 4 away League games: Won Southport 4-5, Won Wrexham 0-1, Won Woking 2-3, Lost Dover A 6-1. Top scorers: Michael Cheek - 7, Lee Barnard - 5, Simeon Akinola - 4.
Last meeting was at Cressing Roadon 10 September where Braintree suffered a 4-1 defeat. Michael Cheek was the Iron scorer. Gateshead's last win was their 5-0 thrashing of Dagenham & Redbridge back on November 12th. Their last home win was a 4-2 victory over Dover Athletic on 8 October. The free scoring Iron however have had three away wins on the trot.
According to the Gateshead website; they should have a fully fit squad to choose from, which includes former Iron player Mitch Brundle. Transfer news: Hakan has drafted in 20 year old Ebou Adams from Norwich City. Hakan describes him as a tough tackling midfield plyer. Injury news: Continuing absence of Jake Goodman & Jon Ashton. Ian Gayle fit to resume playing.
Suspension news: No one suspended, Harry Lee is on 4 yellow cards. DB prediction: With Gateshead being the 5th joint highest scorers and Braintree having the 5th joint leakiest defence in the League, a goalless game seems very unlikely. I'm going for a 2-2 draw.
David Bland tracks down our number ten
Next up in David Bland's player interviews is Simeon Akinola.
DOB 6/8/92 (24) Born Nigeria, came to UK in 2007. Previous Clubs: Boreham Wood, Harrow Borough.
Q. Do you have another job and if so, what is it?
Q. Who do you support?
A. Real Madrid
Q. Growing up, who was your boyhood hero?
Q. Best and worst ground you've played at?
A. Best-New Den (Millwall). Worst VCD Athletic
Q. What was the last album you bought?
Q. Not including Hakan, who has been the best manager you've played?
A. Devs & Danny Cowley
Q. How would you describe your footballing style?
Q. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
A. Strengths - Speed, dribbling, physical attributes. Weaknesses - need to shoot earlier
Q. What is your preferred position?
A. Number 10/up front
Q. Who is the best player in your position in England?
A. Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Q. At what level do you think you can play?
A. Premier League (if all goes well!)
Q. What was it like to be captain?
A. Good, helps to give extra 5%, more team oriented.
Q. Who has been your most difficult opponent?
A. Omar Beckles now at Accrington Stanley, ex Aldershot.
Q. Who is the best/worst trainer at Braintree?
A. Best - Simeon. Worst Manny Parry
Q. If you could change any rule you would in football, what would it be?
A. No offsides, more goals would result.
Q. If you could play under any current manager, who would it be?
A. Jurgen Klopp
Q. What is the best Braintree Town XI in your time here?
A. Playing 4-3-3. Sam Beasant, Remy Clerima, Matt Paine, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Alex Woodyard, Kenny Davis, Sim Akinola, Michael Cheek, James Mulley.
Former Dartford youngster joins Iron
Braintree Town have signed 20-year old midfield player Ebou Adams on loan from Championship side Norwich City. Ebou signed for Norwich City in February for an undisclosed fee from National League South side, having progressed through the Darts Academy structure. It is hoped that, if all are happy, the loan will be extended for the remainder of the season.
Youngsters and trialists in Essex Cup
Iron have been drawn away at National League South side Chelmsford City in the Fifth Round of the BBC Essex Senior Cup. Although not a first team fixture, we will send a Braintree Town XI to Chelmsford on Monday, 16th January, with kick-off at (please note) 7.30pm.
Iron drawn away in last 32
Braintree Town have been drawn away East Thurrock United in the Second Round of this season's Buildbase FA Trophy. The match will take place on Saturday, 14th January, with kick-off at 3pm.
Next up for Iron is a trip up to Gateshead this coming Saturday, 17th December, with kick-off at 3pm.
Jack brace sees Iron through
Iron took their first tentative steps on a possible road to Wembley thanks to a Jack Midson brace, scored in quick succession to secure a win at the Ironmongery Direct Stadium on Saturday. It was just reward for a team beaten back in August by the Gulls.
Torquay had the better of the quiet, uninspiring first half that saw few chances for either team. But in a first half where the defences controlled the game it was difficult to see a winner coming. The visitors' Nathan Blissett closely marked by Braintree's Manny Parry, had little to offer. At the other end the Iron's top scorer, Michael Cheek threatened but Brendon Moore in the Gull's goal had little to do.
Best chance before the break was from David Fitzpatrick who brought out a good save from Sam Beasant. Set pieces were dealt with in equal measure by both keepers.
The dressing room talks at half time must have made a difference as both teams seemed better organised and responsive to their respective managers plans. But the game was still in stalemate until Beasant had to be at his best to save, it was Fitzpatrick again that got a shot away that the Iron keeper clawed away.
That seemed to wake up the home side and a run by Sim Akinola brought out a fine save from Moore. Corners featured heavily during the second half with Iron having no less than 10 to Gull's one. It was one of those set piece plays that brought about the first of Midson's two goals.
An in-swinger from Harry Lee led to a melee in the six-yard box to which Jack stabbed home the ball. Three minutes later Midson was again on the score sheet. The combination of Cheek and Akinola were causing havoc amongst the Torquay defence and it was Cheek who laid off a ball into the path of Midson who fired home and put the game beyond reach.
Braintree continued to press and, despite four added minutes of time added, Braintree managed the game to its conclusion that sees them in the hat on Monday for the Second-Round Draw.
Iron Boss Hakan Heyrettin was pleased with his team's efforts. "I thought we played well in the first half but not good enough to find a goal before the break, after last weekend, we knew we had to do better in defence and Sam (Beasant) did that for us today. Jack (Midson) did a job and got the goals. We did better from the set pieces and we didn't concede from the restart".
Braintree: Beasant, Okimo, Clohessy, Parry, Jules, Patterson (Barnard 90), Isaac, Lee, Akinola (Hall-Johnson 85), Cheek, Midson. Subs not used: Rumens, Corne, Maybanks. Referee: Dean Traleaven. Attendance 301.
Next up for Iron is a trip up to Gateshead this coming Saturday, 17th December, with kick-off at 3pm.
Surrey club to visit in January
Braintree Town's outstanding Vanarama National League fixture at home to Sutton United, postponed because of both club's involvement in the FA Cup, has been re-arranged. The match will now take place on Tuesday, 10th January, with kick-off at 7.45pm. Both clubs have also agreed that, should both be beaten in their respective FA Trophy First Round matches over the coming weekend, the re-arranged game will then be switched to the following Saturday, 14th January, with kick-off at 3pm.
Help us deliver a stadium at no cost to the community
Braintree Town Football Club have seen the statement on the BBC by 'a Braintree District Council spokesperson'. Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38235241
Chairman Lee Harding confirmed that negotiations on relocation began with the then Council Chief Executive Allan Reid as long ago as January 2004 and that these have continued for the past thirteen years. He said: "We at the Club believe we have a robust business plan to afford a new stadium that will not require any financial support from Braintree Council."
"To imply that helping the Club could cost the taxpayer is, at best, unfortunate. We wish to provide a new facility that, with the help of grant aid, is entirely self-funding. Bottom line: if we can't afford something, we won't have it! All we need now is to find a site and have our Council's support to build on it." he added.
Harding stated that the Club still hoped to find a solution: "We appreciate our Council's kind words about our being an asset and are confident that support for a new community stadium, funded by the Club, will have no impact whatsoever on our Council's ability 'to invest taxpayers' money wisely and prioritise according to need'."
He concluded by saying: "Many people have said to me that Braintree is often parochial and stuck in the 1950's, but I simply don't believe this. We want to provide an asset for both the Club and our community. So ask yourself this: if it will not cost our Council anything, what is wrong with helping a Braintree success story to progress?"
Iron impress but come up second best
Braintree Town's involvement in this season's Emirates FA Cup competition came to an end at Millwall yesterday afternoon, as they were beaten 5-2 by the Sky Bet League One side. Iron took the lead through Michael Cheek on 16 minutes. The Braintree forward burst through the home defence before drilling the ball into the top left hand corner. But Millwall were level straight from the re-start when Harry Smith picked up a pass from Lee Gregory inside the box and tucked the ball past Sam Beasant. Four minutes later Smith added his second when he picked up the ball at the far post and drilled his low effort past Beasant. Shane Ferguson added a third on 25 minutes when his shot from wide on the left just crept past Beasant. Jack Midson pulled a goal back ten minutes before the break when he broke through the home defence and lifted the ball over home keeper Jordan Archer. But Millwall restored their two goal advantage three minutes into the second half, as Smith completed his hat-trick, and ten Aiden O'Brien scored a fifth in time added on with Braintree players caught pushing forward.
Central defender joins from Reading
Iron manager Hakan Hayrettin has added nineteen year old central defender Zak Jules on a short-term loan from Reading. Zak is a left-footed centre-half who is a powerful figure both in the air and on the ball. He has represented Scotland at U19 level having already reached the UEFA U17 Championship semi-finals with his country. He was handed squad number 22 for the start of the 2016-17 season by Reading.