Pre-matrch injury and dismissal don't help
It seemed that Iron would have no luck all evening against top of the league Barnet at the Hive, with an injury prior to kick off, a sending off 26 minutes in and three goals conceded forming a night to forget in the sole Conference Premier game on Tuesday evening.
A last minute injury to skipper Kenny Davis meant that Alan Devonshire was forced into a late change, handing Jordan Cox another start and providing Sean Marks with the responsibility of captain. Devonshire had just three substitutes on the bench following the injury, one being Carl Pentney, having taken just four. With the forced alteration, Devonshire made four changes to the side named on Saturday with a new look Iron taking to the field.
James Mulley had the ball in the back of the net on 14minutes in front of a vocal Iron following, but was denied opening the scoring with the whistle already blown for a foul. Down the other end, some great defending by Ryan Peters denied Akinde from pulling the trigger at the final moment, toeing the ball away for a corner. Not to be outdone, Alan Massey threw himself in front of a Weston shot, pulling off a great block inside the first 20minutes.
A good opening quarter of the game for Iron was turned on its head within two minutes when Iron went both a goal and a man down. First Luisma Villa drilled home the opener on 26 minutes, tucking the ball beyond the reach of the outstretched Hamann largely against the run of play. From the kick off, Sean Marks made Braintree's task of overcoming the single goal deficit even harder when he was sent off for an elbow on Bondz N'Gala. The home side surrounded referee Dean Treleaven, who brandished the red after consolting his assistant on the challenge.
With Braintree down to 10 and without their skipper at the last moment, it wasn't long before a second goal was added, again by Villa, benefitting from Iron's failings to clear a corner in from their right hand side. Villa struck low once more, this time across goal and into Hamanns left to extend the lead, sending Iron 2-0 down going into half time.
Mitch Brundle was called into action early into the second half, sliding in to clear off the line as Barnet looked to finish the game as early as possible from kick off. It took until the 57th minute to score the third, with substitute Luke Gambin finishing some nice build up play for the home side. Gambin was there to side foot the ball past Hamann, having been subbed on at half time for Lee Cook.
The Iron appeals for a penalty were turned down on 65 minutes when Jordan Cox went down in the area under a challenge from Graham Stack. Chez Isaac floated in a cross from the left which committed the goalkeeper inside the six yard box, and with Cox on the floor, the referee was turned to by the Iron faithful desperate to see their side get back into the game, but given nothing by the man in black.
With Barnet coasting for the final 25 minutes, little was created in terms of opportunities for either side, the extra man for two thirds of the game proving too much to overcome for an injury plagued Iron side.
Barnet: Stack, Yiadom, Johnson, N'Gala, Stephens, Weston, Akinde, Cook (Gambin), Togwell, Villa, Nurse (Mekki). Subs: Saville, Vilhete, Hoskins. Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Isaac, Massey, Walker, Marks, Sparkes (Case), Smith, Peters, Mulley, Cox (Akinola). Subs: Pentney, Cox. Referee: Dean Treleaven. Assistants: Craig Green and Gary Parson. Fourth official: Lee Marshallsay. Attendance: 1074. Match report by Chris Pargin.
Iron lose by only goal at Altrincham
A scrappy affair at the J. Davidson stadium saw Altrincham win by a single goal in a performance that Iron will be keen to put behind them in the North West. Ipswich Town loanee Omar Sowunmi made his debut in a Braintree Town shirt after signing a month long deal yesterday, but Devonshire's problems looked to be at the other end of the pitch as Iron created little against a side that has shipped goals in the past few games in this division. Devonshire said after the match that "the sharpness doesn't look right further up the pitch."
A slow start to the game in Greater Manchester saw little more than a sliced Kenny Davis effort in the opening stages. However, Iron began to build some momentum as they got into the groove, with a nice passage of play led by Mitch Brindle to set up James Mulley. Though Mulley could gain nothing more than a corner with this chance, the winger was to hit to bar minutes later when he picked up the ball on the left hand side, and wrapped his right foot around the ball from distance.
Iron loanee Omar Sowunmi used his towering height to his advantage whilst up for a corner at the back post, but his headed effort dropped the wrong side of the post for an early Braintree lead. At the other end, the first real time that the hosts have come forward lead to a good chance for Simon Richamn. A run of good passes before a low driven cross from the Altrincham left, found Richman in the middle whose shot was denied by Hamann's leg, and the rebound put wide.
Richmans next move was far more effective, as the again cut in to receive the ball from the left hand side. Again his shot was blocked by Hamann, but this time Nicky Clee was there to pick up the rebound deep into the Braintree box, punishing Iron by finding the net just inside the half hour mark.
Iron had chances to reply, but failed to make possession count with little more than half chances in the first 45 minutes. Alan Devonshire was left with some work to do at half time, trailing 1-0 at the whistle.
It was the hosts that came out the quickest, with Damian Reeves through on goal in the opening five minutes of the second half, firing over from close range. Hamann did well to claw out a header down to his left on the hour mark, moments before Devonshire made a double substitution, bringing on Sean Marks and Dan Sparkes for Dan Walker and Chez Isaac.
The referee brandished four yellows in as many minutes, beginning with Reeves and Sowunmi, who both took a turn at pushing one another and could have seen red in an isolated incident. Sam Habergham earned his warning moments later for a late tackle, and Mitch Brundle also found the book for a high foot.
With both sides creating little, Davis looked most likely to equalise in the second half. Davis received the ball just outside the Altrincham box, brought the ball across his body with his right, and struck the underside of the woodwork with the resulting shot. Bouncing the wrong way for the Iron faithful, Sean Marks tried desperately to latch onto the rebound, which saw some scrappy moments in front of goal. Sam Habergham finally had the chance of the resulting follow up, but fired way over the bar with little more than five minutes left on the clock.
Four minutes of added time petered away as Iron struggled to create again, perhaps the story of their afternoon, going home empty handed to a single Altrincham goal.
Alan Devonshire reflected on the performance stating that "In the first 20-25minutes we bossed the game seeing probably too much of the ball. We were camped in their half really, then we got done with a sucker punch poor poor goal."
"I felt we deserved something out of the game but we haven't and we have to move on. We'll role our sleeves up for Tuesday."
"I'll look at what happens on Tuesday. He (Omar Sownumi) was available and Remy's out for a couple of weeks. We're a small side, but with getting him in, all of a sudden we look a big side. He done ok, he's helping us through this period and we'll see from there what goes on."
"We're a bit worried at the moment because we haven't created as much as we did earlier on the season. It's the old cliche, we'll role our sleeves up and get on with it."
Atrincham: Coburn, Densmore, Moult, Havern, Leather, Lawrie, Richman, Reeves, Clee. Marshall, Cavanagh. Subs: Gillespie, Perry, Wilkinson, Paron, Williams. Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham, Isaac (Sparkes), Massey, Walker Marks), Davis, Cox, Peters, Mulley, Sowunmi. Unused Subs: Smith, Case, Pentney. Referee: Ben Toner. Assistants: Sean Richardson and Matthew Pope. Fourth Official: Barry Lamb. Attendance: 894. Match report by Chris Pargin.
6'5 defender joins from Ipswich Town
Braintree Town manager Alan Devonshire has strengthened his squad ahead on Saturday's Vanarama Conference trip to Altrincham by taking 19-year old centre-half Omar Sowunmi on loan from Championship neighbours Ipswich Town, initially until mid-November. The 6'5 defender signed a season-long contract at Portman Road in May this year and Devs has confirmed that he will be included in the squad for the trip North tomorrow.
Iron set for first visit to Altrincham
Up next for Iron is a trip to Moss Lane to take on Altrincham. The Greater Manchester side will be looking to pull themselves away from the bottom, with Braintree looking to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at home to Southport last weekend.
Conference newcomers Altrincham finished last season in 3rd position in the Conference North, and have had a tough test so far which sees them sit in 21st position currently. The Robins have been struggling for goals after failing to hit the back of the net in their past two games. Conceding 14 goals in their past six would suggest that the Iron have a great opportunity to get the goals needed to end a run of five winless games.
The club's top scorer Damian Reeves will be looking to add to his already impressive goal-scoring tally of seven, but the fans can be expecting a physical game with three of Altrincham's players being sent off this season. Perhaps not a statistic that Iron manager Alan Devonshire will be pleased to hear having seen his squad already plagued by injuries early this season.
Match Preview by Brandon Westbrook
Duplicate of last season in the fourth qualifying round
Braintree Town have been drawn away to Southern League Premier Division side Weymouth in the Fourth and final Qualifying Round of this season's FA Cup competition. This is the second successive season that the two sides have been drawn together, having been paired at the same stage last season. The Terras have enjoyed a good start to the season - they sit in the Southern League Premier Division play-off places with eight wins and two draws from their twelve league games to date. The match is scheduled for a week on Saturday, 25th October, with kick-off at 3pm.
IRON FADE BADLY AGAINST SOUTHPORT
as slide into bottom half of the table continues
IF A team doesn't take it chances and score goals then it simply won't win matches which in reality is now a clear wake-up call for Iron players after this disappointing defeat at Cressing Road on Saturday.
They had more than enough goal scoring chances to have had the game and points wrapped up by the interval but some glaring misses proved fatal before just past the hour when the visitors scored, against the run of play, after which it was clear they would run out winners as the Iron capitulated.
Unfortunately the main culprit for missing gilt-edged chances was young striker Jordan Cox who had a game he will probably want to forget.
On 15 minutes his striking partner Dan Walker shrug off defender Jonny Lynch to set him up for a goal with a neat chip cross ball to him, unmarked in the area, but with just had the keeper to beat he headed the ball over the bar and then five minutes before the interval he missed an even easier chance when unmarked inside the penalty box he managed to stab the ball past the post with the goal at his mercy.
On the hour he was again unmarked in the area but headed over from a Dan Sparkes corner and minutes later Walker was again a provider with a fine cross but Cox somehow managed to put his header wide.
He wasn't the only culprit though because Walker missed a comparatively easy chance early in the first half, Chez Isaac fired over on the half hour when he should have scored and four minutes before the break the returning from injury Sparkes also drove the ball over the bar when clean through down the left and running into the area with only keeper David Raya Martin to beat.
It was much the same sad scenario in the early part of the second half when Kenny Davis found space to head a Sam Habergham left wing cross but it went straight into the hands of Martin.
The visiting keeper was the busier of the two keepers all afternoon and on 58 minutes he did well to deal with a curling free-kick from Sparkes and shortly afterwards both James Mulley and Walker made excellent runs through the backward tracking visiting defence but they failed dismally with their finishing when either should have been more clinical and scored.
The Iron certainly missed the pace and shooting too of the injured Simeon Akinola up front but there was some hope for the home fans in the 810 crowd when fit again striker Sean Marks emerged off the bench on 68 minutes replacing Sparkes.
Unfortunately though he too received few good passes in the final quarter of the pitch for him to make any impression.
Under a minute of that Iron substitution though they fell behind when what appeared to be an innocuous attack from the visitors' Luke George sent a first time low shot goal ward that picked up an unfortunate ricochet on the way and the ball flew into the bottom corner of Nick Hamann's goal.
As when conceding their first goal at Gateshead the previous week the Iron game plan then appeared to collapse with players lacking spirit and commitment for the final 20 minutes of the game as if going behind had again really knocked the wind out of their sails.
They needed to raise their game and again Cox missed another chance before with four minutes to go he was belatedly and probably by now relieved to be substituted and replaced by Ryan Case with Walker moving back up front to partner Marks.
But it was all to no available as the Iron allowed the visitors to now take control of the game when what they really needed to do was up the pace of their game again.
All the earlier misses though came back to haunt the with four minutes to go when Amadou Bakayoku with his back to the Iron goal was allowed to cleverly turn marker Alan Massey inside the home area himself plenty of room to score with a low shot into the corner of the Iron net.
In the end it was a deserved win for the visitors and the Iron can have no complaints really because it was all down to them not taking some of the chances they had created early on.
Little wonder Iron fans are eagerly awaiting the return of long time injured striker Charlie Strutton in about two weeks to add some clinical finishing in their attack which is sadly missing at present.
Braintree Town: Hamann; Peters, Habergham, Massey, Brundle; Mulley, Davis, Isaac, Sparkes (Marks 68); Cox (Case 86), Walker. Unused subs: Pentney, Smith.
Iron manager Alan Devonshire said afterwards: "Goals change games and we should have done so before half time with the chances we had and the game would have been over.
"I'm worried that as in the Gateshead game we dominated for so long but once we concede a goal we seem to collapse like a pack of cards and we have quickly to sort that one out," he continued. "At the end of the day they deserved to win because they took two of the three chances they had - we just didn't take one of the many more we had in the game."
He added: "So no excuses from me, we lost and we now have a week to work at things and get us up to Altrincham next week and start winning."
He went on: "I think with all the recent injuries we got away with it when doing well against the top three sides but it's now caught up with us although hopefully within the next two weeks we should get all the players back from injury.
"It's very difficult at this level running with such a small squad when you get injuries and we are on one of the smallest budgets in the league so I would say to the supporters moaning to me today to take a reality check and see where we have come from," he continued. "We've come a long way in a short time and we'll continue the way we have done so far - we've already 20 points on the board and our basic target remains 50 points for the season and I'm confident we will do it again."
Chairman Lee Harding agreed: "After such a disappointing result, it is always easy to blame a lack of players or money. Yes, we have a small squad at the moment, but the Club gives Alan full delegated authority to bring in who he chooses - he alone decides who and how many players we have. As to the playing budget, it may not be the highest in the division, but it is certainly the biggest we have ever allowed a manager at this Club. We must never forget that it is all too easy for a club to spend money it does not have (as the supporters of both Hereford and Salisbury found out last season) but we in the board room remain convinced that it is competitive. It is certainly more than last season ... and the two seasons before."
MARKS & SPARKES TO RETURN?
Devs sees light at the end of injury tunnel
Team News - Braintree hope to have both Sean Marks and Dan Sparkes back in contention as they welcome Southport to Cressing Road on Saturday. The pair have been missing in recent weeks but a week with no midweek game has given them further time to recover and Manager Alan Devonshire said: "We are starting to get players back and they might be available for the weekend. I thought we looked a little tired at Gateshead last week because players have had to play every game recently while we have had four or five out injured. Hopefully a few fresh legs will add competition."
The Opposition - Southport gave new boss Gary Brabin a great start on his return as Manager, coming back from 2-0 down after 17 minutes to draw 3-3 with Lincoln on Tuesday night. Brabin is in his second spell as boss at Haig Avenue having replaced Martin Foyle after a 5-2 defeat to Woking. Brabin has enjoyed success at this level with Cambridge and in former York striker Richard Brodie has a forward who has always scored regularly at this level. Currently sitting 22nd, Southport finished last season in 18th position, a way shy of an impressive 7th place finish in the 2011-12 season. The sides last met in April 2014 at the Merseyrail Community stadium, where Braintree ran out 4-0 winners on the day. Sean Marks opened the scoring early on, with Dan Holman adding a brace before James Mulley finished the scoring with a rare header. The fixture looks set to see goals a plenty again, with the visitors seeing 13 in their last 2 fixtures. The Port conceded five at home to Woking in a 5-2 loss last weekend, before hosting Lincoln City in a 3-3 draw on Tuesday.
Tickets - This is a Category B game with adult admission £16 for the terraces and £17 for the seats. Under 16s can watch the game for just £6, with under 11s £4.
Pre-Programmed - Make sure you pick up a copy of the Matchday Programme tomorrow. Featuring the latest news on relocation from Chairman Lee Harding, teams news and views from both Manager Alan Devonshire and Skipper Kenny Davis, the programme is packed full with news from around the club and the league as well as topical thought-provoking articles on all aspects of the game. The programme is available all around the ground for just £2.50.
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Match preview by Chris Williams and Brandon Westbrook
HEED OVERPOWER TIRED IRON
Injury ravaged Braintree squad lead but lose
A DEVASTING six minute spell midway in the second half during which they conceded three quick goals ended any hope the Iron had of returning home from Tyneside with at least a point on Saturday.
Up until the 69th minute they had looked comfortable, controlled the game and taken a first half lead through the persistence on Jordan Cox who sneaked in between home defender to slide the ball into the net on 34 minutes.
But wily home boss Gary Mills threw caution to the wind making three substitutions around the hour to effectively play with four strikers and it immediately paid off with fortunes completely reversed leaving his side to in the end run out comfortable winners.
With fresh legs on in attack the home side full-timers took advantage of by now extremely leg weary and leaden-footed part-time Iron side and took them to pieces leaving the 36 loyal Iron who made the long journey to the north-east wondering what might have been had their players been able to maintain their recent impressive form.
But in truth the Iron's physical effort in holding the league's top two teams to draws in the previous seven days finally caught up with them in this second half and with again just a bare eleven first team players fit to start the game they knew from the off they would find it another tough game.
Iron assistant manager Keith Rowlands admitted after the game: "Yes, we know were are really stretched at the moment with the number of injuries we have with our small squad but that's no excuse because we had done exceptionally well up until they scored.
"They had the advantage of bringing fit and experienced players off their bench to change the game and they did so but we are still disappointed at the way we conceded all three individual goals and in such a short space of time," he continued. "We didn't have their option on the bench but we should still have competed better in certain areas at certain times and particularly shut them down more but we failed to and they scored their goals."
He added: "We know they are a good team and they will be up there near the top at the end of the season but we didn't do ourselves justice on the day and we'll look forward to having no midweek game and getting ourselves prepared and back on form for next Saturday."
The fact that the Iron only had one corner in the whole match compared to 10 for the home side did reflect on the quality of attacking potential the home team offered.
Up until the late flurry of home goals it had in truth been a scrappy encounter but the Iron, having weathered an initial difficult 15 minutes, settled down and for long periods of the game look to be in control, even with three or four players clearly not on song and lacking their normal aptitude for the game.
Cox had opened the scoring when he latched on to a poor headed back pass by Phil Turnbull to squeeze the ball past keeper Adam Bartlett and both Simeon Akinola and James Mulley wasted good first half chances to have increased the Iron's one goal lead at the break.
Early in the second half Mulley fired over when well places and on the hour Akinola cross a fine ball from the right wing into the path of the unmarked Cox but he just failed to get his head to the ball with Bartlett stranded having missed the cross.
But it all went horribly wrong for the Iron with the three home substitutions made as they upped their pace and along with some poor defending it allowed Carl Finnigan time and space to stroke a first time shot past keeper Nic Hamann on 69 minutes to equalise.
Three minutes later Turnbull made amends for his earlier mistake by moving on to the edge of the Iron area where a neat move saw him unmarked and able to drive a low shot into the far corner of Hamann's net.
Three minutes later the game was over as a contest when another substitute Jon Shaw with also so much time and space able to drill the ball into the net from just inside the area and again the Iron paid for some poor marking.
By now the Iron looked a shadow of the side seen in their last two games with too many players looking tired and unable to cope with the resurgent home side as they pushed forward for more goals.
The one bright spot for Iron fans was the re-emergence of Sean Marks after a six game absence through injury who came on as a late substitute and was able to gain 15 minutes of action although by then his side had really lost the game.
Braintree Town: Hamann; Peters, Habrgham, Massey, Brundle; Mulley (Marks 76), Davis (Smith 84), Walker, Cox (Case 82), Akinola. Unused sub: Pentney. Attendance: 1,244. Match report by David Ward.
LEADERS HOLD BRAINTREE
Cox headers levels things up
Braintree took the sting out of the free scoring Bees in a very even contest at Cressing Road, as the game finished 1-1. Having held high flying Halifax to a draw just two days previous, Alan Devonshire's men put in another shift against top of the table opposition to take a well earned point. Such was the team performance that Alan Devonshire refused to point out any individual performances stating that there "were a few really good performances in the team."
The game did not start the way Braintree would have liked, being put on the back foot early on with a few crosses and long throws, as well as Barnet's powerhouse striker Jon Akinde surging through the Iron defence at times. The Barnet forward players also pressurised the Braintree defence by pushing up and chasing the ball down. All the early pressure paid off for Barnet as they took the lead after twelve minutes through Akinde. A cross from the right wing found Akinde a few yards from goal between Mitch Brundle and Alan Massey and his firm header found the top right corner. The last two goals that Braintree have conceded have been from headers from right wing crosses. With nineteen minutes gone Barnet could have been two goals to the good. A right wing cross had been headed at goal but was deflected wide for a corner, from the resulting corner the headed chance went just inches wide of the post.
After the first twenty minutes Braintree began to grow into the game. Akinola was very active all game, winning headers, putting defenders under pressure and creating chances. After twenty-three minutes Akinola had the ball in the Barnet net by back heeling James Mulley's half volley past Graham Stack. However, the linesman had his flag raised and the goal wasn't given. There were a number of chances for both teams, with Alan Massey having to put in a last ditch tackle in the box after Sam Hoskins had danced past a number of challenges, and Chez Isaac and Kenny Davis having a number of long range attempts, however they were not close to troubling Stack.
The equaliser came after thirty-six minutes and via the head of Jordan Cox. Ryan Peters went on a marauding run at the Barnet defence before passing the ball to Mulley who then passed it back to Isaac. The cross came from the right side of the pitch and it was a perfect cross for Cox to run on to and head downwards at goal. Stack managed to get a hand on to the ball but the header was too strong and he could not prevent it from crossing the line. Up to half time the game remained even and fairly open but there were no other clear cut chances.
From the restart the game continued to be an even battle. The first chance of the second half was from Walker, who was impressive throughout the match with some of his runs. After forty-eight minutes Walker made a run into the box and from a tight angle attempted a cross turn shot that went narrowly over the bar. Walker was having his shirt pulled in the box and protested to the referee, but nothing was given. A minute later Walker then exchanged neat passes with Mulley before attempting to find Akinola with a killer through ball, but the pass had too much weight on it and Stack was able to gather the ball. Moments later and Walker and Mulley were in a two on one situation with the Barnet defence. Mulley had the option to pass the ball and put Walker through, but instead opted to run at the Barnet defence instead. The chance to pass to Walker was gone as the Barnet defence recovered and Mulley then chose to shoot, however his attempt was comfortable enough for Stack to hold. A few minutes later and Akinola eased past three Barnet players before unleashing a shot which was also comfortable for Stack to hold on to.
With fifty-eight minutes on the clock Barnet had a fantastic chance as a ball over the top of the Braintree defence was latched onto by Akinde who lobbed the ball over the onrushing Nick Hamann. Fortunately for Braintree Akinde over hit the lob and it landed on the roof of the net. Barnet were having the lions share of the possesion, but Braintree's defence stood firm, with some strong but fair tackles, one of which from Peters injured Sam Muggleton. Braintree also posed a threat to Barnet on the counter, especially with the direct running of Akinola, Mulley and Walker.
As the game entered the last ten minutes Hamann was called upon to make a smart save. A headed knockdown by Akinde was met by a powerful shot from Villa, however Hamann was equal to it and parried it away. Braintree then countered from Barnet's chance and Mulley sent a cross into Cox at the back post only a few yards from goal with only one defender for company, who he had fallen trying to get a head to the ball. Cox now had a glorious chance to score but miscued his volley and from his air shot then took a second shot at goal which he scuffed wide. It was Braintree's best opportunity to win the game. Akinola and Walker had a counter moments later but Walkers shot from outside the box was deflected wide for a corner.
In the ninetieth minute Akinde was bundled over on the edge of the box after dispossessing Akinola and powering past three challenges. The free kick was in a very dangerous position and was Barnet's last opportunity to sting the Iron, but the shot was straight at the wall and the game finished as a draw.
It was a result that pleased the manager, especially as Braintree had only enough players to name four substitutes on the bench. None of the bench were used as Alan Devonshire had "faith in the eleven on the pitch." Furthermore, Alan Devonshire confirmed "it is likely that it will be the same starting eleven for the game at Gateshead." The manager then remarked that imagine "what results we can get when we have a full team."
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Dan Walker, Jordan Cox, Simeon Akinola, James Mulley. Unused Subs: Carl Pentney, Ryan Case, Joe Moore, Steve Smith.
Barnet FC: Graham Stack, Andy Yiadom, Sam Muggleton (Luisma Villa, 68 mins), Dave Stephens, Bondz N'Gala, Curtis Weston, Sam Togwell, Jon Nurse (Luke Gambin, 46 mins) Elliot Johnson (Mauro Vilhete, 46 mins) Jon Akinde, Sam Hoskins. Unused Subs: Jack Saville, Alfie Pavey.
Attendance: 1,168. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
ALL-SQUARE WITH 'FAX
Braintree & Halifax cancel each other out
Iron were looking to continue their impressive home record so far this season with victory over Halifax Town who were sitting third in the table. Braintree have so far put in some strong performances at home against the likes of Kidderminster and Bristol Rovers. It was not the victory Braintree were after, instead it was the first draw of the campaign for the Iron, as Alan Devonshire said it was "two good teams cancelling each other out."
There were very few chances throughout the first half and Braintree's best chance fell to captain Kenny Davis. Having scored with a header from a similar corner against Alfreton, Davis this time opted to use the side of his foot to connect with a corner played deep into the edge of the box. Unfortunately the shot was scuffed and went wide of the goal. Braintree had one other opportunity in the first half when Akinola's weak effort from outside the box was deflected wide for a corner.
Halifax perhaps had more opportunities in the first half yet Hamann remained fairly untested. Most of Halifax's chances came from crosses into the box or the long throws of Marc Roberts. Braintree were able to deal with most of the crosses, connecting with either a head or a boot. Halifax did however manage to get on the end of a few of their crosses, but most of their chances went wide. Perhaps the best opportunity for Halifax came after thirty-five minutes when a cross into the box was headed onto the far post. The onrushing Halifax player made contact with the ball but could not direct it at goal and it went behind for a goal kick. Halifax had another great opportunity after thirty-nine minutes when a great cross into the box was almost met by the stretching Danny Hattersley who could not quite connect. If he had been able to get a head on the ball it could have asked serious questions of Nick Hamann.
The second half started scrappily with a few yellow cards handed out to Halifax players. The first was for a poor timed tackle by Adam Smith from behind on Sam Habergham that had home fans calling for him to be sent off. Moments later Matty Pearson got a yellow card for a similar tackle on Kenny Davis in the middle of the pitch and right under the referees nose.
Braintree picked up the tempo for the second half with more chances falling for both teams, but there was not enough quality in the final third and very few clear cut chances. Halifax had their best opportunity after seventy-five minutes when they were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position just on the edge of the Braintree box. The shot beat the wall and was going inside of Hamann's left post had it not been for the diving Hamann who punched it clear for a throw in. It was arguably the closest that either team came to scoring throughout the game as it was one of the few chances on target.
As the game went into the last five minutes there was only one team applying the pressure and that was Braintree. A deep cross from James Mulley was spilled by Glennon, the ball was then sent back across by Akinola but Bakare's scissor kick went over. Mulley then had an opportunity himself, shooting with the outside of his boot when he was found on the edge of the Halifax box, again however the shot went over. Mulley took the game to Halifax by running directly at the defence and crossing to Michael Bakare who was found in the middle of the box, but his shot was blocked. The late pressure from Braintree came too late in the game as they were unable to take any of their opportunities and it finished goalless, with Alan Devonshire happy with the cleansheet. Braintree will be hoping for a similar defensive display for the next home fixture against league leaders Barnet.
Line-ups: Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Sam Habergham, Mitch Brundle, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Dan Walker (Michael Bakare, 71 mins), James Mulley, Jordan Cox, Simeon Akinola
Unused Subs: Steve Smith, Carl Pentney, Joe Maybanks, Ryan Case.
Halifax Town FC: Matty Glennon, Scot McManus, Marc Roberts, Matty Pearson (Danny Schofield 80 mins), Simon Ainge (Jamie Jackson, 58 mins), Adam Smith (Richard Peniket, 58 mins), Paul Marshall, Steve Williams, Kevin Roberts, Scot Boden, Danny Hattersley.
Unused Subs: Phil Senior, Jake Hibbs. Attendance: 909. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
BRAINTREE FRUSTRATED AT EASTLEIGH
Header enough to separate the two sides
Braintree Town made their second journey in four days around the M25 and down the M3, this time to visit Eastleigh for Saturday's Vanarama Conference fixture. Iron welcomed back skipper Kenny Davis following his one match suspension and were in control for lengthy spells during the game.
It was against the run of play that Eastleigh took a 34th minute lead when Stuart Fleetwood glanced his header at the near post past Nick Hamann from a Will Evans cross. Iron could have levelled almost from the re-start when Dan Sparkes broke through the home defence, but his low drive was well blocked by home keeper Ross Flitney. Just before the break Simeon Akinola was unlucky as his header from a James Mulley cross just missed the target.
Braintree dominated the second half, with the home side limited to break-aways. Sam Habergham saw his crisp effort deflected over for a corner, while substitute Dan Walker was denied as his low drive was deflected just wide of the post. At the other end, Mitch Brundle performed heroics after he headed substitute Craig McAllister's header off the goal-line in a rare home attack but, despite their dominance, Iron could not find a way through as Eastleigh held on to claim the three points.
Next up for Iron is two successive home matches in the Vanarama Conference when the visit next Saturday, 27th of third-placed FC Halifax Town is followed three days later by the visit of leaders Barnet on Tuesday, 30th.
IRON DOMINATE AT ALDERSHOT
Fluid Braintree ease up to seventh
Braintree Town comfortably won this game at the ES Stadium on Tuesday evening thanks to a fine attacking and passing game by their players from start to finish plus some tactical nous by manager Alan Devonshire, writes David Ward.
With several players not fully fit and without the influence of suspended captain Kenny Davis in midfield Devonshire pulled a master stroke by replacing him with winger James in Mulley in central midfield alongside Chez Isaac and allowing Danny Sparkes on the right and Simeon Akinola on the left to run free down either flanks.
It meant a steady stream of fine through ball to strikers Jordan Cox and Michael Bakare all evening and they caused mayhem in the home defence every time they went forward leading to Jordan grabbing a brace and Bakare unlucky not to get his name on the score sheet.
A delighted Devonshire said afterwards: "It's all credit to the players really who showed what a good footballing side we are and they all worked their socks off and I'm really proud of each and everyone."
"Some were not really fit enough to play but they gave their all and they deserve credit," he continued. "We needed to improve our away form this season and this was the right way to do it and I thought we were never in danger of losing the game."
He added: "It was certainly one of the most satisfying away performances and win since I have been at the club."
Mulley was a revelation in midfield, well supported by Isaac who chased the ball down at every opportunity, although Devonshire added special praise for the four-man defence and keeper Nic Hamann.
"We knew the home side were big and physical and we are one of the smallest steams in the league but our defence was magnificent and did not gave them an inch," he continued. "I knew they wouldn't cope with the pace of our boys with the ball on the ground and so it proved."
Little wonder the 27 Iron fans in the crowd of 1,295 made more noise than the home supporters as right from the kick off their side took the game to their hosts who simply couldn't cope with the swift passing movement of the Iron players.
The writing was on the wall in only the second minute when Sparkes cut in from the right wing and sent a dipping shot to the far post which keeper Phil Smith just managed to get a hand to push it round for a corner.
Sparkes didn't have to wait long for his goal though because he repeated the feat on 14 minutes with a curling shot again from the right which flew into the top corner of the net.
With the confidence of a goal the Iron continued to push forward and dominate the game with first Akinola and then Cox both going close before on 25 minutes defender Mitch Brundle moved up for a corner only to see his glancing header shave an upright.
In a rare attack at the other end Brett Williams saw his header strike the Iron post before being cleared on 39 minutes as the home side at last started to create some attacks but with the outstanding Alan Massey marshalling the Iron defence they stood firm.
As on the previous Saturday with a one goal lead the Iron needed a second goal early on in the second half to give them breathing space and it came on 52 minutes when Issacs and Akinola combined down the left flank with the latter threading a great final ball through splitting the home defence for Cox to run on to drive the ball into the net past the stranded Smith.
The Iron continued to dominate the second half with only the occasional attacks from the home side which the Iron defence coped well and only once in this period did Hamann have to pull off a proper save when Josh Scott escaped a defender to fire a shot straight at him.
The icing on the cake for the Iron came on 78 minutes when again young Akinola's clever dribble on the half way line allowed him to slip the ball through to the unmarked Cox who had the simplest of task to tap the ball into the empty net at the far post.
Three minutes into stoppage time the home side made one final attempt to score and they did when Damon Lathrope poked the ball into the Iron net during a scrappy final minute.
It was all too little too late then because by then the Iron were comfortably over the line as deserved winners with an exemplary all round team performance that pushed them up seventh place in the league table.
Braintree Town: Hamann, Peters (Case 81), Massey, Brundle, Habergham, Sparkes, Mulley, Issac, Akinola, Cox (Smith 88), Bakare (Walker 65). Unused sub: Pentney.
FOURTH WIN IN FIVE FOR IRON
Iron three points off the play-off places
Iron moved to within three points of the Vanarama Conference promotion play-off places with a battling two goal win over visitors Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday - Braintree's fourth win in five matches.
Braintree Town were looking to bounce back from their mid-week defeat away to Welling with victory over Kidderminster, who suffered their first defeat of the season in their last fixture at Southport. The Iron were without injured Remy Clerima, with Mitch Brundle moving into the centre of defence in Clerima's absence. Ryan Peters made his return to the starting line-up following his recent injury. The last game Braintree played at Cressing Road was a 2-0 victory, and was the same result for the Iron in this fixture.
Braintree started the game bright, putting opposition keeper Danny Lewis under pressure with a few crosses, one of which was from a corner that Lewis spilled. Akinola pounced onto the ball but was adjudged to have fouled Lewis. After 5 minutes Kidderminster had an effort at goal themselves, Aman Verma scuffed effort from wide going across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
Braintree were playing good football, passing neatly and attacking in numbers and it did not take long for Braintree to score the first goal of the game, and it was a spectacular effort which words can't do it justice. James Mulley and Ryan Peters pushed forward well on the left wing. Peters passed the ball to Mulley's feet, Mulley then turned to goal and unleashed an arching shot from the outside of his right boot from at least 25 yards or more. The shot went just inside of the far post and there was nothing the keeper could do to keep it out.
Braintree were the better team for much of the first half, harassing defenders into mistakes by chasing in pairs with Akinola using his pace to get at the defence, passing the ball well and using the full pitch. In defence if the ball was not headed clear by the Iron then it was Nick Hamann that was safely claiming the crosses into the box.
Braintree had two good chances to put Kidderminster to the sword but were unable to capitalise on them. The first chance came from a free kick in a dangerous position but was ineffective as it was hit straight at the wall. The rebound, sent in by Peters from the halfway line was over hit and bounced in front of Lewis, nearly lobbing him and going out for a goal kick. The second chance came from a great cross by Dan Sparkes, which was met by the head of Jordan Cox a few yards out from goal. It was a fantastic opportunity from Cox to score, but instead the header went over the bar.
The last 10 minutes of the second half saw Kidderminster come back into the game. After 35 minutes a cross in the Braintree box caused panic as both Brundle and Hamann collided going for the same ball. Fortunately for the Iron the ball bounced kindly for Kenny Davis to thump the ball clear. Kidderminster then hit the woodwork on 42 minutes after some neat passing build up play created space for a chance just inside the box. The shot was hit low and into the inside of Hamann's far post, with the clearance again being made by the Braintree defence. Mitch Brundle was then called upon moments later, having to make an important block after a shot from Nathan Blissett. Hamann then had to make a fantastic reflex save just before half time when a teasing cross into the box was met with a low drive at the far post. Braintree managed to weather the storm and it finished at half time Braintree 1-0 Kidderminster.
Whatever was said at half time must have worked as the Iron came out strong for the start of the second half. Chez Isaac was putting in tackles all over the pitch and was always getting in the right positions to break up Kidderminster attacks and launch counter attacks for Braintree. On 47 minutes Isaac won the ball in the Kidderminster half and then ran at the Kidderminster defence with his cross being turned behind for a corner. It was from this corner that Isaac had won that Braintree scored their second, courtesy of Kenny Davis. Sparkes sent in an in-swinging cross that was met low at the back post by the head of Davis no more than 6 yards out. Davis is not the tallest player on the pitch, which might explain why he was left unmarked. Kidderminster should have done their homework as Davis scored a looping header in Braintree's trip to Alfreton Town. The were not many chances for the next 15 minutes after the goal, with Bakare, who had come on for the injured Jordan Cox, sending a free kick straight at Lewis.
On the 68th minute goal scorer James Mulley became a hero at both ends of the pitch. A Kidderminster cross into the box was missed by Hamann and the goal bound header was acrobatically cleared by Mulley on the line with an overhead kick. Hamann then made his second reaction save of the game as a ball over the Braintree defence found Kidderminster substitute Ahmed Obeng unmarked at the far post, the shot from Obeng was saved by the legs of Hamann. Having been booked earlier in the game for holding a player, Davis then got his second yellow card for a mistimed tackle. It was a decision that frustrated Alan Devonshire as he felt there was little consistency from the officials. Alan Devonshire gave his opinion that "There were a few tackles from Kidderminster players that also should be yellow cards, if the ref is going to give yellows to Davis like that."
It now seemed like a backs against the wall job for the last 15 minutes, and from the free kick straight after the red card Kidderminster again hit the post. Michael Gash, who made 6 appearances for Braintree during a loan spell in 2012, stepped over the ball which was then hit at goal by Craig Reid. The shot almost wrong footed Hamann but he managed to turn the shot onto the post and out for a corner. Kidderminster then had another dangerous free kick 3 minutes later, again sending the ball to the far post where Josh Gowling was prowling, fortunately for the Iron the shot was off target going over the bar. The officials gave an additional 5 minutes and in the first minute of added time Kidderminster hit the woodwork for the third time in the game. Hamann came a long way out of goal to claim the ball which he was unable to do, and the rebound fell kindly for Obeng whose reaction shot hit the base of the post. Had it gone in it could have been a nervy last 4 minutes for Braintree, as it turned out it was the last effort of the game.
Despite the good result and the three points, there are concerns for the Iron, with Alan Devonshire describing the full time dressing room as the 'walking wounded'. For Tuesdays game at Aldershot, Devonshire confirmed that there may be a few players from the academy making the visit as in all his time at Braintree he has never had so many senior players out of action.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Sam Habergham, Mitch Brundle Alan Massey, James Mulley, Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes (Steve Smith, 75), Chez Isaac, Jordan Cox (Michael Bakare, 54), Simeon Akinola (Ryan Case, 90). Unused Subs: Carl Pentney, Dan Walker. Kidderminster Harriers FC: Danny Lewis, Jared Hodgkiss, Kyle Storer, Chey Dunkley, Jack Byrne, Marvin Johnson, Reece Styche (Craig Reid, 70), Nathan Blissett (Michael Gash 54), Aman Verma (Ahmed Obeng, 61), Kevin Nicholson, Josh Gowling. Unused Subs: Jamie Grimes, Jasbir Singh.
Attendance: 751. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
GAME OF TWO HALVES
First half lead evaporates in Kent
Welling United took all three points in a game of two very different halves of football. With Braintree taking the lead through Jordan Cox, Iron looked comfortable for much of the first half. However, Welling exerted pressure towards the end of the half, continuing in the second which lead to a dominant display as the tables turned. Corne and Beautyman spoiled the unbeaten run of games that the Iron were beginning to string together, to send the Essex side home with nothing after what looked a very promising start.
An even opening few minutes ended in disappointment for Remy Clerima when he limped off after ten minutes with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Steve Smith. James Mulley showed his versatility by taking up a role at right back, and the shuffle did little to hinder Braintree's attacking flair early on, taking the lead just minutes later.
A ball by Massey was well taken by Simeon Akinola, who looked to striking partner Jordan Cox to provide the outlet needed to get a shot in on goal. That he did well as Jordan latched onto a bouncing pass, outmuscling the Welling defence, and showing the cool head required to lob the committed Jamie Turner in goal to gift the Iron the lead on 18 minutes.
Chances came from a double corner for both Cox and Akinola, with Simeone coming closest with a glancing header drifting just wide of the back post. Following Sam Habergham seeing yellow for a late challenge on Jon Nouble, and Charlton loanee Sho-Silva receiving the same punishment for following through on Nick Hamann, the game settled down, providing few good chances. Jon Nouble fired over the bar from just outside the box around the half hour mark, and five minutes before half time a free kick was gifted to Welling which was taken by Harry Beautyman. The opportunity in a dangerous area was wasted, with the shot fired straight into the wall and easily cleared by the Iron defence.
On the cusp of half time, a spell of pressure from the Wings saw Hamann's positioning keep out a flashed shot by Captain Jake Gallagher, who turned a ball across goal into the goalkeeper's grasp. Next up was Sam Corne to rock the Iron, floating a shot at the far post, which dipped just the wrong side to the relief of a scrambling Nick Hamann. Iron soaked up the pressure in the final minutes of the half to go down the tunnel a goal to the good.
The second half started where the first left off, with the home side applying pressure early on. Mitch Brundle saw yellow as he conceded a free kick just outside the area from the off. Brundle could have suffered worse, looking the be the last man, but referee Christopher Powell felt differently as he brandished the yellow with Welling gaining free kick in a good area. Chris Bush was the man set up, this time the Wings playing a pass to escape the Iron wall, and Bush took his chance brilliantly, firing hard and low past Hamann to level from the off.
With the Wings crowd getting behind their side, the home team stated to build momentum, much of the play being around the Briantree box. James Mulley ran out a clearance, finding himself unchallenged as he tore through the middle of the park. Mulley ran half of the length of the field, before firing a shot at Jamie Turner, but his colleague failed to follow the shot up, and Turner's stop landed safely at a red shirt.
Sustained pressure became too much for Braintree when Harry Beautyman put the home side ahead 12 minutes from time. Running at the Iron defence down the right hand side, Beautyman looked to have been knocked off the ball, but as the home crowd cried for a penalty, Beautyman regained balance. His shot was slotted to Hamann's left hand side, beyond the reach of the Iron 'keeper to give the home side the lead.
In the final minutes, Braintree came close to an equaliser with Mulley and Bakare linking up well on the right hand side. Bakare's shot was flapped at by the goalkeeper. It was Steve Smith who came closest when he rattled the bar from way out in what was a chance created from nothing. Brundle was given a go when he took charge of a freekick from just outside the box, but he fired over the bar as the Iron desperately looked to capture something from the game.
Alan Devonshire showed his disappointment after the game: "I was bitterly disappointed with the two goals. We just got done ball watching, gave away the two goals. Some of the players let each other down. I felt sorry for them because they worked their nuts off. At the end of the day we had Remy come off, Jordan come off which disrupted us bit. Mulley filled in at right back. I'm just gutted with the two goals we gave away because we said in there at half time, do the basic's well and we'll be alright. A minute into the second half, Mitch has got the chance to clear it and he's gave away the free kick which led to the second goal."
"I'm gutted because in the first half we were in total control to be fair. To give away a goal like that, we never really got going after that."
"You've got to do the basics well, that's what good footballers do. I'm pee'd off to be fair."
"When you have six or seven players out, it's going to disrupt you. I'm gutted really. We needed something today to keep the run going which we had built. We will roll our sleeves up and I'll see who's fit for Saturday."
Welling United: Turner, Fazakerley, Gallagher, Fagan, Bush, Beautyman, Marsh (Baselle), Jefford, Nouble (Hudson), Corne (Fyfield), Sho-Silva. Unused subs: Butcher Williams. Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham, Isaac, Massey, Walker (Bakare), Davis, Akinola, Cox (Sparkes), Clerima (Smith), Mulley. Unused subs: Pentney, Maybanks. Referee: Christopher Powell. Assistants: Matt Eve and Paul Johnson. Fourth Official: Graeme Ions. Attendance: 506. Match report by Chris Pargin.
EFFICIENT IRON BEAT BRISTOL ROVERS
Davis and Sparkes get the goals
An efficient Iron performance ended in a 2-0 win against Bristol Rovers in front of a crowd of over 1600 on non-league day. Braintree's win never looked in doubt, once they had gone ahead through a Kenny Davis penalty, won in controversial circumstances that saw a large away crowd turn very ugly in the first half. Cox won the penalty in front of the away fans, who reached out at Cox, backed into the net by a group of Rovers players. Dan Sparkes added the second after directing in a nice cross from Akinola, who won man of the match on his home debut for the club.
The action started with Jordan Cox winning a free kick just outside the box six minutes in, Dan Sparkes was presented the first opportunity of the game, lining up alongside Mitch Brundle to try and test the Rovers goalkeeper early. Sparkes struck left footed around the wall, but the shot was too high and flew over the bar into the visiting fans.
Kenny Davis floated one in ten minutes into the game, after some nice triangular passing between the skipper, Jordan Cox and James Mulley to find Davis is space. The delivery drifted to the corner flag as an Iron shirt could not reach the ball, and straight down the other end, a double corner almost led to the first goal. The second delivery coming from the Rovers left found lofty Adam Cunnington, who headed with vigour, demanding the most from an outstretched Nick Hamann, at his best again to meet the effort.
A good move by Iron almost provided the opener, with the ball played out to Dan Sparkes who moved up the field with Iron working as a unit, and delivered across goal towards Simeon Akinola. Akinola flicked on with pace, so much so that it escaped the touch required by a sprinting Jordan Cox to guide the ball home.
What happened next was pandemonium at Cressing Road. Just before the half hour mark, an off the ball incident saw the referee hand Iron a penalty. Cox was shoved by the Rovers defender, and backed into the Rovers net by a mob of aggressive visiting players once the whistle was blown. With Jordan facing up the pitch, Rovers fans behind the goal looked to strike Cox in the back of the head, who held his head in his hands and was pulled away by his team mates. With the referee taking an eternity to decide what was to happen next, a more and more vocal visiting crowd hurled abuse at the officials. After much deliberation, a yellow was shown, and Kenny Davis kept his cool, sending the keeper the wrong way from the spot. The Iron were ahead in front of what was beginning to turn into an intimidating atmosphere at the away end.
Up the other end, Trotman reached a cross in, heading towards goal, meeting Tom Parkes who knocked it in from a yard out. However, the flag saved Iron on this occasion, signalling for offside. The Gas were to threaten again five minutes before half time, when Andy Monkhouse got on the end of an in swinging cross from the left. Hamann dived to his left, collecting the ball in his clutches, but the pressure was to build for Bristol Rovers who constructed a series of balls across the face of goals in the minutes that followed. The referee's whistle blew with Iron 1-0 to the good.
The second half began quickly, with chance up both ends from the off. The best of the initial few minutes in the second period fell to Davis, who picked up the ball in the middle of the Rovers half after a run forward by Sam Habergham. Davis was forced to try from outside the box, who saw his shot deflected before being scooped up by Steve Mildenhall between the sticks for the visitors.
The second came two minutes before the hour mark, with Akinola twisting and turning just inside the area to lose his man and set up Dan Sparkes. A grounded delivery was directed into the bottom left of Mildenhall's goal by Sparkes, doubling the sides lead comfortably with half an hour remaining.
Akinola then created his own chance, turning a backtracking Tom Lockyer, who was tangled in his own feet as Akinola found space beyond the defender. The strikers shot was collected without a problem by Mildenhall, but the shot from nothing prompted a vocal response from an appreciative Iron crowd, singing the new signings name like he had been at Cressing Road for years.
Andy Monkhouse found space for himself in the centre of the park, opening up the Iron defence and shooting from range over the Hamann's bar. Ryan Brunt was set up in the Iron box, latching onto a ball through the middle minutes after the shot by Monkhouse. Rather than take the shot on first time, Brunt let the ball run to the byline, opting to cross but failing to find a white shirt and allowing Braintree to clear their lines with ease.
When the opposite end failed to replicate Braintree's efficiency, James Mulley picked up a loose clearance on the edge of the 'D'. His shot trickled the wrong side of the Rovers right post with the clock ticking down on the Gas.
Akinola was played through again minutes from the end, but with is back to goal, opted for the chest out towards the left wing where Steve Smith picked up the bal. Smith fired with his left at goal, but couldn't test the 'keeper as he misdirected his shot wide. The referee called an end to the game with Iron winning on the day 2-0.
Reflecting after the game, Alan Devonshire stated how pleased he was, but will remain focused with the games coming fast over the next couple of weeks.
"We want to try and make this place hard for people to come to, the pace that we started off at was terrific."
When asked his opinion on the penalty, Alan responded "I think the fellow just pushed Jordan over. Listen, you get them sometimes and you don't get them sometimes. I'm not going to moan about it."
"It's been a good start but we've got to keep it going. We've got Chez and Kenny sitting in there and playing brilliantly at the moment. Dan Sparkes has bags of talent, but I want him to get involved more. I'm delighted for him as well.
We have to get a result on Tuesday. There were some tired legs out there, so I may look to change things on Tuesday if we have the players."
Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham, Clerima, Massey, Mulley, Davis, Sparkes (Walker), Isaac, Akinola (Bakare), Cox (Smith). Subs: Marks, Pentney. Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Brown, Lockyer, Parkes (Sinclair), Clarke, White (Taylor), Trotman, Martin, Monhouse, Cunnington (Brunt), Mansell. Subs: Puddy, Wilson. Referee: Daniel Cook. Assistants: Oliver Jackson and Louis Marks. Fourth Official: Lloyd Wood. Attendance: 1621 (565 visiting fans). Match report by Chris Pargin.
NON-LEAGUE DAY ON SATURDAY
Vanarama supporting Prostate Cancer UK
Vanarama have today joined forces with Non-League Day and Matt Le Tissier to launch a campaign to break the attendance record at Vanarama Conference fixtures on 6th September, 2014 (Non-League Day).
Core to the campaign is a "call to arms" to recruit personalities who love the game, to put their "thumbs up" for Non-League day and raise awareness. Van leasing business Vanarama will take to social media to encourage managers; players; media; celebrities; and of course fans to post pictures of their support using #thumbsup4NLD.
The campaign will raise awareness of Non-League football to ALL football fans and ask them to go to support their local club on Saturday 6th September 2014 on a day when there are no Premier League or Championship fixtures. The target is to achieve a Non-League Day attendance of more than 50,000 at Vanarama Conference games on the day, breaking the existing record of 39,210 (2012).
Vanarama, will make a donation on behalf of every fan attending a Vanarama Conference fixture to Prostate Cancer UK, the event's charity. Based on last year's attendance this will be a donation of £4,000. If the matchday attendance across the Vanarama Conference is higher than 50,000, Vanarama will donate at least £10,000. Full details can be found at www.vanarama.co.uk/thumbsup4nld
To help raise awareness for the campaign, join Matt Le Tissier and others, and post pictures of you and your friends with 'thumbs up' to @Vanarama and using #thumbsup4NLD, or www.facebook.com/vanarama
Matt Le Tissier, Thumbs Up for Non-League Day Ambassador said: "Non-League Football is close to my heart and the lifeblood of the beautiful game in this country. I am excited to be supporting this campaign and encourage everyone to tweet their thumbs up photos and get down to their local club this coming Saturday. Let's break the record and raise money for Prostate Cancer UK".
Andy Alderson, Owner & Managing Director, Autorama Group said: "As a company of football fans, we are excited to be sponsoring the Vanarama Conference, and delighted to be supporting Non-League Day and Prostrate Cancer UK at the same time. We hope to help the clubs attract fans from the wider football family on this special day in the Football calendar. Thumbs Up for Non-League Day!".
SEGREGATION SATURDAY FOR BRISTOL ROVERS
Iron fans are advised to arrive a little earlier than usual
For our Vanarama Conference fixture against Bristol Rovers on Saturday, 6th September, segregation WILL be in force. However, this game will NOT be all ticket and no tickets will be available for sale prior to the match. This match is a Category A fixture and admission prices for this match can be found by clicking the 'Tickets' link above. To gain entry to the ground, visiting spectators should use the two turnstiles to the right of the Main Stand and clubhouse, numbered 7 and 8. Home spectators should use the four turnstiles to the left on the clubhouse, numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4. Season ticket holders should use gates 5 and 6. Those wishing to stand should pay at the appropriate turnstile, on arrival, on the day. Anyone wishing to sit must purchase their seat ticket at the turnstile when they enter the ground as there will be no cash transactions within the ground for upgrades to seats. A full colour matchday programme will be on sale inside the ground adjacent to the turnstiles. The Club are mindful of the limited parking we have available at the ground. Following the advice received from Essex Police, the Club have decided to charge for entry into the car park - with a flat rate of £2 for all users. Essex Police have also suggested that the car park be closed prior to kick-off to ensure that there is no congestion between pedestrian spectators and vehicles. No vehicles will be allowed entry into the car park within thirty minutes prior to kick-off. Those travelling to the Cressing Road Stadium for the first time can find more information on how best to travel by clicking on the 'Find Us' link above. The Clubhouse at the Cressing Road Stadium can only be accessed from inside the designated home section of the ground. Those spectators wishing to use the segregated part of the ground reserved for visiting supporters may wish to visit The Orange Tree public house some 300 yards from the ground on Cressing Road between the ground and Galley's Corner roundabout prior to entering the ground. For further information, please contact the Club on 01376 345617.
PATIENT IRON WIN AT ALFRETON
Skipper puts Iron ahead & Sparkes secures the points
Braintree Town gave almost a repeat performance of the Nuneaton result, as it was again a 2-0 win for the Iron and both goals were scored in the second half. The opposition also find themselves in a similar position on the table, Alfreton Town being rock bottom and looking to bounce back from a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Grimsby. Alfreton Town would not necessarily be easy opposition, as they had finished last campaign in eleventh place and Dan Sparkes believes that they "don't deserve to be bottom."
In the first half you could not tell that the Reds had recently been thumped by such a score line given their performance. The first 10 minutes were played almost exclusively in the Braintree half, however, Nick Hamann was not asked any questions. The first real shot, after 13 minutes, went the way of Braintree, with Cox drilling the ball wide from the edge of the box after a swift counter attack. A minute later and Cox found himself on the right hand side of the Alfreton box but his cross turned shot was tame and straight at Cameron Dawson.
Braintree had to play up the sloped pitch and into the wind for the first half and it was Alan Devonshire's intention that Braintree go in at half time with a clean sheet. The tactics were effective as the Iron defence was solid, heading crosses clear from dangerous areas, getting distance on the clearances and putting in strong blocks. In the 18th minute it was a blocked Alfreton shot that came close to finding the mark, bobbling just wide of the post. The resulting corner was flicked on at the near post with the follow up shot from inside the box blazed over the bar. It was a very clear chance which Alfreton should have buried.
As the half progressed it became more petulant and perhaps the most controversial moment of the game was when the Reds Jake Sheridan clearly put his head into Mitch Brundles' face in what appeared to be an attempted head-butt. The referee and his assistants did not see what had happened, as it was committed off the ball, otherwise it could have been punished. It was from a free kick that Alfreton had a clear chance to score just before half time, Tom Shaw curling one over the wall but just wide of the goal as well.
Braintree had a few chances themselves, despite Alfreton edging the first half. On the 23rd minute Braintree won a free kick in a good position and the ball was whipped in very well, evading Dawson and the Alfreton defence. It also evaded Cox and had he managed to get a touch to the ball at the far post he would have had a great opportunity to score. The Iron had the ball in the net at half time when Dan Walker was put through on goal by Jordan Cox, however, Walker had been in an offside position and the goal was disallowed.
Apart from the few chances made by Braintree, there was little impact by the front men, with long balls being headed on with no one to run on to them. Some of the passing was clumsy and Cox and Walker appeared to be playing too far away from each other. The long balls being played up the pitch were not finding a Braintree player and the second balls were being won by Alfreton. But as Devonshire stated during the full time interview, the first half was all about keeping the clean sheet, and that is how the first half finished, with two clean sheets.
The second half started similarly to the first half, with the Reds putting Braintree under pressure, creating a great chance after 55 minutes from a free kick. The ball was whipped into the Braintree box and was met by an Alfreton head, one of the few times Alfreton won an aerial battle, and the header was goal bound but from the right hand of Hamann which tipped the ball over the bar. Almost immediately after Alfreton's chance, Braintree had a chance from a free kick themselves. It was in a similar position to the goal scored by Mitch Brundle against Nuneaton. Again it was Brundle who took the free kick but this time the effort went just over the bar.
After 60 minutes it was perhaps Alfreton's last real chance to get ahead in the match, however, it was strong defending again by Braintree blocking two shots on goal in a matter of seconds. Moments later Braintree had turned possession over and had claims for a penalty. Dan Sparkes had made a break down the left hand side and put a cross into the box which was turned out of play via an Alfreton hand. The referee had deemed it ball to hand rather than deliberate and gave a corner. It was from the corner that captain Kenny Davis opened the scoring with a beautiful looping header. The ball was curled in by Sparkes and went deep into the Alfreton box, where perhaps one of the smallest players on the pitch met it perfectly to lob both the keeper and the defender on the line. The goal came in the 64th minute.
The goal seemed to shatter Alfreton's confidence and the Iron were now on top of the game, hitting Alfreton on the break and moving the ball out wide, spreading the Alfreton defence. Conversely, the replacement of Cox and Walker with Sean Marks and Simeon Akinola changed the dynamic of the game. It was Akinola's debut, having signed from Harrow Borough, and in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch he was impressive. Akinola kept possession well, took on players and was neat with his passing. Braintree were much improved going forward and in the 75th minute had a another penalty claim turned down. James Mulley made a direct run at the Alfreton defence, taking the ball around two defenders before he was tackled by a third defender. The Alfreton man got plenty of the man but not too much of the ball, and he went through Mulley to get the ball, but no penalty was given and instead it was a corner.
Braintree needed to kill the game off whilst they were in the ascendancy as Alfreton still had enough about them to nick a goal, especially on the counter where they had pace going forward. Marks who was impressive when he came on had a shot across goal go wide shortly before Sparkes tied up the match in the 80th minute. Akinola won a throw in the Alfreton half, which Habergham launched into the box. The headed clearance found Sparkes on the edge of the box who laced a low shot into the back of the net, under the right hand of Dawson. It was a well taken and a deserved goal for Sparkes. For the last 10 minutes and the 5 added minutes Braintree were efficient in keeping possession and were working the ball around the pitch running the clock down for the full time whistle.
In some ways it was a almost a perfect away day, soaking up the pressure, without Hamann being seriously tested, keeping a clean sheet and earning the 3 points.
Line-ups: Alfreton Town FC: Cameron Dawson, Bradley Wood, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Luke Graham, Lee Stevenson (Nathan Hicks, 75 mins), Dan Bradley, Tom Shaw, Jake Sheridan, Jordan Keane, Joe Ironside (Paul Clayton, 81 mins), Andi Thanoj. Unused Subs: Dan Gray, Julian McDonald
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaacs, Alan Massey, Dan Walker (Sean Marks, 70 mins), Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes, Jordan Cox (Simeon Akinola, 70 mins), Remy Clerima, James Mulley. Unused Subs: Steven Smith, Carl Pentney.
Attendance: 442. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
DEVS ADDS TO SQUAD
Striker moves to Cressing Road
Braintree Town manager Alan Devonshire has added striker Simeon Akinola for an undisclosed fee from Ryman League side Harrow Borough. The 22-year old forward started his youth career in Madrid before coming to the UK, where he spent a year at Boreham Wood and two years at Earlsmead. Devs was delighted with his latest signing: "A great acquisition to the squad, Simeon gives us something different up front. I've watched him a few times and he has great potential."
IRON SINGING IN THE RAIN
Late goals set up second win
With Braintree looking to bounce back from their recent defeat away to Lincoln, an improved performance against a Nuneaton side that have so far failed to score this season was required. Throughout the entire match the rain did not relent, but this did not stop Braintree playing good football, mixing balls over the top of defence as well as short neat passing.
The first half was dominated by the Iron in term of chances, with Nuneaton only testing the home side with one shot on target from distance. However, it remained goalless at half time. In the second half Braintree created more chances but left it late in the game for the goals. The 2-0 final score was a deserved result and a fair reflection on the game.
Manager Alan Devonshire said that he felt that the side were "quite comfortable and thoroughly deserved to win the game."
Alan reflected after the match: "I had to take the pressure of them so I just smiled (at half time) and said don't worry we'll score, we'll score and we did so that's what you have to do. The keeper's pulled off a double worldy save and you think it's going to be one of those days. At the end of the day we've ended up winning 2-0 and that's all that matters."
The first clear chance of the game fell to Braintree's Dan Walker. After a clever turn by Peters to get out of trouble in defence, his clearance put Walker in behind the Nuneaton defence. Walker got past the keeper, but had been forced wide, and his goal bound shot was deflected behind for a corner off of the imposing figure of former Braintree Town man, Exodus Geohaghan.
After quarter of an hour it was Geohaghan again coming to Nuneaton's rescue, preventing Braintree from a shot on goal with a vital block. It was again a chance created from a ball over the top of the Nuneaton defence, taken on the run by Jordan Cox whose shot deflected against the legs of Geohaghan 12 yards from goal.
Braintree's next chance fell to Cox, who after taking another long pass expertly under control, found himself through on goal. The attempted lob by Cox, however, was unfortunately hit horribly wide.
Braintree were in the ascendancy, but again their next chance was squandered. Walker had made a direct run at the by-line and put in a dangerous cross which was deflected, taking it out of the reach of the keeper, but the headed attempt from a few yards out was just over the bar. Walker himself then had a chance which hit the side netting, having been put under pressure by two Nuneaton defenders inside the box.
Whilst Braintree could have done more with their previous attempts, it was due to goalkeeping heroics from Charles-Cook that kept it goalless at halftime. A long range blistering strike by Mitch Brundle was heading into the bottom corner, but was stopped by a great parry from Charles-Cook. The first player to the ball was Dan Sparkes' and again his shot was parried back into the danger area. The referee then awarded a free-kick to Nuneaton after a foul on the keeper, and arguably Braintree's best chance of the half had gone.
In the last minutes of the half it was Nick Hamann's turn to show his ability between the sticks after superbly tipping a long range effort destined for his top right corner wide of the post. If it had gone in, it would have been against the run of play.
The second half was also dominated by Braintree, although there was little in the way of clear cut chances, with headers from corners and shots from the edge of the box not finding the target. Nuneaton themselves had a fantastic opportunity, drawing a great save from Hamann after a close range effort from substitute Tyrell Waite, although the linesman had already given offside.
After the initial stages Nuneaton began to grow in confidence and were creeping their way back into the game. That was until Ben Hutchinson was sent off in the 74th minute for a high and dangerous tackle from behind on the halfway line. It was mistimed, dangerous and the referee made no hesitation and immediately brandished the red card.
After the sending off Braintree showed more urgency, determined to take advantage of having the extra man, and it paid off with a goal on the 80th minute. Nuneaton conceded a free kick in a dangerous position just on the edge of the box, and Mitch Brundle delivered the goods with a well despatched free kick, curled into the bottom right corner of the Nuneaton goal. It was a well placed effort just out of the reach of the 'keeper.
Nuneaton, despite being a man down, did give a late scare after a deep cross from Jack Dyer was met at the far post by Theo Streete. Hamann was beaten, but the header went over the bar. Michael Bakare showed enthusiasm when he came on late in the game, harassing defenders and chasing balls down. He was rewarded with a well taken goal on the 89th minute, cutting in from the right wing and curling a shot into the far bottom corner, 25 yards from goal, sealing the three points for the Iron.
Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham, Isaac (Smith, 85), Massey, Walker (Smith, 79), Davis, Sparkes, Cox (Bakare, 79), Clerima, Peters. Unused Subs: Maybanks, Pentney. Nuneaton Town FC: Charles-Cook, Franklin, Geohaghan, Dean (Dyer, 80), Gordon, Walker, Armson, John (Waite, 58), Hutchinson, Smith, Streete. Unused Subs: Wren, Vieira, Quinn. Referee: David Rock. Assitants: Dean Appleby and Carl Pearse. Fourth Official: Guy Alexander. Attendance: 658
Match Report by Ryan Delaney
DEVS FRUSTRATED BY SUNDAY FOOTBALL
Braintree manager vows to put it right
Braintree manager Alan Devonshire was left bitterly disappointed with some of his players after they lost another game against the Imps - their sixth defeat in eight Conference games against them - and has promised "to put it right" with one or two new signings if necessary.
Conceding two first half goals, described by Devonshire as "Sunday morning park football goals," he said he told the players at the final whistle they would have to improve or else.
"I'm really disappointed with certain players so far and I've told them so," he said. "I'm definitely not happy and we should have done much better today than we did and we should have at least come away with a point."
He added: "No, I'm not pushing the panic button because I don't do that - we were bottom of the league once and then pulled ourselves up to finish in the top half of the table.
"But it's my job to get it sorted and I will and if that means bringing in new players I will and that will mean one or two going out because we run on a tight budget, the smallest I believe in this league," he said. "I know we've got some players with knocks but that's no excuse for this defeat - I'm really unhappy.
"I know one or two players I have been wanting to bring in and we'll see what now happens," he continued. "We'll dust ourselves down, check on the walking wounded and get ourselves ready to do better and win the next game which is at home on Monday."
Devonshire, who lost James Mulley at half time with an injury and then saw Mitch Brundle having to go off for lengthy treatment for a badly cut face after he was crudely elbowed by a home defender.
"What is annoying is that the referee could clearly see what happened as it was so blatant and the lad immediately had blood gushing from his face from a deliberate elbow but he chose to do nothing about it," claimed Devonshire. "Whilst he was off having treatment they scored again with another poorly conceded goal."
The Iron had conceded two dreadful first half goals through schoolboy errors - Sean Newton netting direct from a corner on seven minutes and then on 21 minutes allowing Hamza Bencheri to add a simple second.
Three minutes into the second the Iron clawed their way back into the game when Kenny Davis netted from the penalty spot after Jordan Cox had been brought down by Tony Diagne who was shown a straight red card.
"It was a penalty but I think it was a bit harsh to send the lad off but at least it gave us a lift," said Devonshire. "But then we lost Sparkes for lengthy treatment during which they scored again which then gave us a mountain to climb."
Ben Tomlinson netted that goal on 61 minutes and again it was poor defending by full-back Sam Habergham that set the goal up after which the Iron battled hard to get back in the game.
They did manage a second one minute into stoppage time when Mitch Brundle fired the ball for his first goal for the club.
But it was all too little too late and but for those poor moments of defending the Iron would have returned home with at least a point. Devonshire had started with a new attacking duo of Cox and Michael Bakare, dropping Sean Marks to the bench, but it's clear on the evidence of this game they still need some fresh firepower up front to score goals to win games.
POOR FIRST HALF AT LINCOLN
Iron give themselves mountain to climb
Iron could not quite do enough at Sincil bank to take away a point against Lincoln side who were forced to play with ten men for much of the game due to Tony Diange's dismissal straight after half time. After finding themselves two goals behind at the break, Braintree gave themselves a chance through Kenny Davis, who slotted away a penalty won by Jordan Cox after Diange's foul in the area. With the Imps pulling away again through Ben Tomlinson, Iron left it late to reply, meaning that the task in hand was too much on the day with Lincoln running out 3-2 winners.
Alan Devonshire held nothing back about what he had seen following the game, issuing a warning shot to the squad that he had no problems with replacing those that will not stand and fight. "Poor goals were given away, especially the third one and I feel like we should have got something out of it in the end.
At the end of the day, they are moaning about a sending off which I thought was harsh to be fair, I thought it was a penalty as he dragged him back, but I didn't think it was a sending off. My lads got a five inch gash brought about by the number nine, and there was nothing given. And the referee has seen blood spilt from his head. He's got to go and have five to eight stitches for it now. He comes off the pitch for five or seven minutes, and its back to 10 vs 10, so we're penalised for it.
I'm disappointed in certain players, if I have to go and get some new players after Monday I will, but the problem is if one comes in then one goes out, and I've told them that in there today. I wasn't happy at all. I don't panic about any situation we're in, I know what needs to be done and it's down to me as a manager to try and get the players in that I have been after for a while now. At the end of the day I always knew it was going to be a tough season. Everyone knows we've got the smallest budget in the league and we have to do the best we can."
As the game got underway, Jordan Cox showed his hunger, closing down the opposition goalkeeper Nick Townsend, and blocking his delivery which rebounded out for a goal kick. But the home side were soon ahead through Sean Newton when they made a brief spell of pressure count. Crosses were delivered back and forth across the Braintree box as Iron struggled to clear their lines. Eventually, the ball was put out for a corner, which would hand the Imps the lead as Newton met the ball in at the near post, guiding the ball into the far bottom corner with a headed effort.
Some nice footwork from Michael Bakare allowed the forward to find Kenny Davis in the middle of the park, who played the ball out to Dan Sparkes wide on the right. Sparke's delivery in was cut out by Jake Caprice as he looked for Jordan Cox in the area, and the Iron were made to start again as their corner came to nothing.
Quarter of an hour in, two corners in quick succession allowed Ben Tomlinson to pick the ball up on the edge of the area, then requiring a great save from Nick Hamann to stop the hosts from doubling their lead. Michael Bakare tried his luck from the edge of the area, but could not test goalkeeper Nick Townsend as his effort trickled to the man between the sticks.
No sooner that Iron found their first real attempt on goal would the home side deal a further blow when scorer became provider on twenty minutes. Sean Newton crossed from deep on the left into Hamza Bencherif, who nodded virtually unchallenged into the back of the net to double Iron's woes.
Just beyond the half hour mark, the flag stayed down for Jordan Cox who sprinted onto a ball played through the middle moments after having a shot scooped up by Townsend. Iron continued to add some pressure when Alan Massey blasted a shot from the edge of the box, which was blocked and lofted away by the Imps.
Lincoln were soon on the attack again when Ben Tomlinson picked up the ball on the hosts right hand side. Without a viable option ahead of him, Tomlinson carried the ball across the edge of the Iron box, going on the shoot with his left hard and low at the Iron goal, but missing the target by a fair distance.
As the half drew to a close, Dan Sparkes provided one last chance to pull one back before the break, curling in a decent effort towards the head of Mitch Brundle. The centre back flicked the delivery towards goal, but misjudged slightly as the ball skipped out for a goal kick which would be the last kick of the half.
Alan Devonshire looked to bring about a change when James Mulley was brought off for Ryan Case at half time. Moments after the start of the second half, the game was turned on its head when Jordan Cox was pulled down in the area by Tony Diange. Diange saw red despite home protest, and Kenny Davis was handed the opportunity to get back into the game with the majority of the half still to play. Davis coolly slotted the ball down the middle to grab a goal back for the Iron, with Townsend diving to his right.
As Iron searched to get something out of the game, Jordan Cox looked to have been held back again on the edge of the area, but the referee signalled a goal kick this time. Two minutes after the incident, the Imps were to increase the lead to two once more through Ben Tomlinson. Tomlinson easily got behind Sam Habergham to latch onto a great ball through the middle, and guided the ball across goal and beyond and outstretched Nick Hamann to extend the home advantage.
With twenty minutes left to play and two goals behind, Alan Devonshire looked to force a change in the game again by making a double substitution. Dan Walker came on for Sam Habergham, and Sean Marks took to the field in place of Michael Bakare.
On seventy five minutes, a spell of danger for the home side saw crosses exchanged between the flanks, finally resulting in Kenny Davis drilling a shot at Nick Townsend. Both Dan Sparkes and Mitch Brundle had to go off at times to receive treatment in the final ten minutes, Dan for what looked like an ankle injury and Mitch for a head wound. Both returned to the field of play, and Brundle could not have made more of an impact upon his return, scoring in the 90th minute to hand the Iron a chance. Brundle picked the ball up just outside the box, and fired a deflected shot into the back on the net as five minutes of injury time was announced.
Braintree searched for an last gasp equaliser when Dan Sparkes fell in the are three minutes into time added, but a point was too much to ask as time ran out for the Iron with the score line stuck at 3-2.
Lincoln City: Townsend, Caprice, Diagne, Brown, Newton, Bencherif, Nolan, Mendy, Power, Burrow (Marshall), Tomlinson. Unused Subs: Kabba, Robinson, Everington, Farman. Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham (Walker), Isaac, Massey (Case), Davis, Sparkes, Bakare (Marks), Cox, Peters, Mulley. Unused Subs: Clerima, Pentney. Referee: John Whiteley. Assistant Referee: Chris Francis and Matthew Smith. Fourth Official: Duncan Carratt. Attendance: 2231. Match report by Chris Pargin.
IRON SQUANDER FIRST HALF LEAD
Early dominance slips away
Braintree Town suffered at the wrong end of a game of two halves against Chester on Saturday. A goal to the good at the interval, having squandered a number of other chances, Iron conceded three goals in nineteen second half minutes.
Braintree were in control for much of the first half. Both Chez Isaac and Sean Marks tested Chester keeper Freddie Hall, with Marks rattling the crossbar. Iron then took a deserved lead mid-way through the half when Chester's John Disney handled in the visitors 18-yard box and skipper Kenny Davis despatched the result spot kick for 1-0. Iron continued to press and could have doubled their lead when Marks saw another header dip just wide of the target.
But it all fell apart for Braintree after the re-start. Having survived a warning early on when Chester hit the post, Iron keeper Nick Hamann could do little to prevent Sean McConville's shot on 48 minutes.
Chris Iwelumo then headed Chester into the lead on 64 minutes and McConville secured the points with another shot from close range, having taken advantage of the worrying gaps in the Braintree defence.
After the game Iron Manager Alan Devonshire was less than pleased: "We did well before the break, but we have to put our chances away. We could have turned around three or four goals ahead, but you've always got a chance at 1-0 and, credit to Chester, they took their chances during the second half."
He added: "As good as we were first half, I felt we were very ordinary after half time and I've got a bit of work to do next week."
Massey brace blows Dover away
Braintree quickly bounced back from their opening day loss against Macclesfield with a convincing win at Cressing Road, scoring three times without response. Dan Sparkes earned his crust on the night, setting up all three goals from set pieces which the Iron effectively capitalised on to secure all three points. Iron manager Alan Devonshire was delighted with the response.
"It was a good display from us tonight. I'm delighted for them. I think they let themselves down on Saturday and I think they felt that as well so I'm delighted.
On Alan Massey "I did tell him. I said you're going in too early at near post and he listened to me and scored two goal."
"The whole team did so much better on Saturday and that's what we need to do. We've got another game Saturday and we want to make this a fortress here. We're a mobile team and if we play it right, people are going to struggle against us and that's what we want to do."
"I thought the back four was tremendous as well as going forward. That's the way we need to play"
Iron's first chance came from a corner in from Dan Sparkes made its way out to Kenny Davis, who put his foot on the ball in the area in search of support, but with no options opted to punt the ball at goal, which deflected up and was punched away by the visiting goalkeeper. As Dover made little of their corner at the other end, Sean Raggett saw yellow when he body checked Nick Hamann who was looking to release quickly after collecting the ball in.
With Iron winning a free kick on the left hand side, the home fans did not have to wait too long for the first goal of the season at Cressing road thanks to a great Dan Sparkes delivery. The whipped ball across goal was read well by Alan Massey who connected form just a few yards in front of goal to bag the Iron first goal of the campaign within the quarter of an hour mark.
Iron searched for a second with a hopeful bicycle kick from Mitch Brundle, and looked threatening from set pieces which they continued to deliver with vigour into the White's penalty area. Mulley capitalised on the pressure, securing the second on 25minutes by finishing Walker's trickery. Walker flicked the ball over his head, looking to set himself up on his left, but Mulley stepped in and placed the ball into the net, easily beating the Dover Athletic goalkeeper to double the lead.
The away cries for a penalty were waved away by referee Craig Hicks when Chris Kinnear went down in the area after failing to meet a lofty delivery in. Marks managed to meet yet another corner for the Iron down the over end, but directed straight at the Dover goalkeeper five minutes before half time as he failed to make it three. With Braintree dominating the first half, the referee blew on a 2-0 lead to give the away side a tough test in the second half if they were to take anything from the game.
With a slower start following half time, Dover looked to force a change by making a double substitution, playing with three up front for much of the second half. The rain began to fall again on Cressing road, but chances dried up on the pitch until Marks was set free just after the hour mark. Bearing down on goal, Marks drilled a shot which was met by the rushing Mitch Walker and cleared long to switch pressure to the home end. Mulley did well to put the ball behind for a corner as pressure was applied by the Dover front line. Dan Sparkes looked to punish from a double set piece on 73 minutes, first from a free kick which was drilled into the wall and deflected behind goal. The resulting corner teased the orange shirts in the box, going out for a goal kick.
Dover cried again for a penalty through a hand ball by Isaac in the area. The ball flicked up and at the wrist of Isaac, but the referee waved away appeals again to the frustration of the visiting crowd.
Following the introduction of Jordan Cox for Sean Marks late on in the game who saw out a trickling ball for a corner, Sparkes was to set up again from a set piece on the 85th minute. Another good delivery in by Sparks was read well for a second time by Alan Massey who put the game out of sight with the final five minutes played out without another chance.
Provider of three Dan Sparkes reflected after the game on the performance.
"We've come back tonight, we knew what we had to do. We had to put things right from Saturday and that's what we did."
"Maybe it was first game of the season nerves. We made no excuses on Saturday we were poor. I've been telling Massey to do all season what he has done tonight and he's done it. Set pieces have always been my strength. Everyone knows what they are doing and finally tonight we pulled it off."
Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham, Isaac, Massey, Walker (Bakare), Davis, Marks (Cox), Sparkes, Peters, Mulley (Maybanks). Unused Subs: Case, Pentney. Dover Athletic: Walker, Stone (Nanetti), Wynter, Kinnear, Raggett, Orlu, Modeste, Bellamy, Cogan (Payne), Sterling, Reid (Elder). Unused subs: Lock, Deverdics. Referee: Craig Hicks. Assistants: Craig Green and Martyn Holmes. Fourth Official: George Sprague.
Match report by Chris Pargin.
IRON DENIED AT MACCLESFIELD
Goal-less Braintree frustrated in Cheshire
Braintree manager Alan Devonshire had frustration written all over his face at the end of the seasonal opener at Moss Rose on Saturday having seen his side control most of the game but fail to find the net leaving them a long journey home without picking up at least a point.
"I'm gutted because we looked the better side but in all honesty we didn't play well," he said. "For a start we didn't create enough but overall we didn't to ourselves any justice and I'll have to get that sorted out for our next home games.
"We started well, gave away what was clearly an offside goal, came back into it but really in the second we ran out of ideas which is disappointing. The subs coming on didn't make the impact I expected and we have to do better.
Defensively we were good as we were all last season," he added.
The Iron, starting with only one new signing in the line-up - French defender Remy Clerima - replacing the departed Dean Wells - looked solid at the back all afternoon and they always looked the more threatening side going forward.
But it was a regular problem for the Iron showing lots of effort and hard work but not enough penetration and lacking that little bit of quality with their finishing where it matters.
The Iron had started cautiously with just Sean Marks left up front as the one striker but they still created well from midfield and while goal scoring chances were few and far between they did have opportunities with Mark, Chez Issac, James Mulley and Kenny Davis with possible chances.
It was much against the run of play when the home side took the lead on 15 minutes courtesy of a free-kick swung into the Iron area where hesitation allowed Chris Holroyd to side the ball into the net with a left-footed shot.
The second half was much the same with the Iron pushing forward and looking to score but they just failed with their final ball into the danger area.
Devonshire threw caution to the win on the hour after which he brought on three strikers - Michael Bakara (for Dan Sparkes 61), Dan Walker (for Issac 79) and Jordan Cox (for Marks 62) - and they each battled hard for the equaliser but again that lack of finnese and quality in the final quarter was the problem.
Defensively the Iron were good value so much so that keeper Nik Hamann had little to do all afternoon apart from picking the ball out of his net for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Braintree Town: Hamann, Peters, Clerima, Massey, Habergham, Issac, Davis, Paine, Sparkes, Mulley, Marks. Unused subs: Brundle, Pentney. Attendance: 1,309.
Next up, Iron host Dover Athletic in their first home game on Tuesday, kick off 7 45pm and they will be without utility player Matt Paine who was on the end of a bad tackle from a home player.
"Yes, sadly he's going to be out for a while - it was really a bad tackle but amazingly it wasn't even given as a foul," added Devonshire.
COLLECT SEASON TICKETS ON SATURDAY
Clubhouse will be open from 1pm-3pm for collect your season tickets on Saturday
Those Iron supporters who are yet to collect their season tickets for the forthcoming 2014/15 campaign can do so between 1pm and 3pm on Saturday afternoon from the Iron Clubhouse. Peter Tilbrook will be looking after the tickets.
VANARAMA START AT MACCLESFIELD
Iron heading up the M6 on Saturday
Braintree Town look forward to Saturday's inaugural Vanarama Conference trip to Macclesfield Town full of confidence with plenty of goals from pre-season and everyone fit and available for selection! Last season we won 1-0 at the Moss Rose ground at the end of August, but the Silkmen got their revenge at Cressing Road winning by the same scoreline in April. A defeat that put a big dent in our play-off hopes as we played every two or three days! Kick-off at Macclesfield on Saturday is 3pm and admission prices are: Adult seats-£18, Adult standing-£14, Concession seats-£14, Concession standing-£10, U18/Students-£5, U12-£3. Directions for those travelling are as follows. Exit the M6 at junction 17 (Sandbach) and follow the A534 to Congleton. From here take the A536 to Macclesfield (Macclesfield is signposted from the Motorway). After passing the 'Millers' pub on the left continue for about 1/4 of a mile and take the first right after the speed-camera onto Moss Lane. Follow Moss Lane until you reach the ground.
5-GOAL IRON COMPLETE PRE-SEASON
Goals aplenty in Peterborough
Braintree Town completed their pre-season build up with a five-goal victory at Peterborough Northern Star on Tuesday evening. Two goals from Dan Walker put Iron ahead before the break and that tally was doubled by a brace from Sean Marks after the interval. Dan Sparkes added the fifth to complete a confidence-boosting finale before Saturday's inaugural Vanarama Conference trip to Macclesfield Town on Saturday.
CLERIMA JOINS BRAINTREE
French defender joins Iron squad
Braintree Town have signed REMY CLERIMA from Vanarama Conference North side Brackley Town. Clerima, who will be 24 in September, switched to Brackley from Histon last February. The French defender arrived at the Glass World Stadium in 2010 and went on to make 129 appearances for the Cambridgeshire club, netting nine goals.
VANARAMA CONFERENCE - RESPECT
Board Statement from Vanarama Conference - Respect
The Vanarama Conference has listened to supporters, especially those bringing children to matches, before embarking on the next stage of its Respect programme, designed to tackle concerns and to continue its objectives to make the match day experience enjoyable for everyone involved.
Two Board directives, one a new initiative, are now required to be closely monitored by appointed Club Respect Directors, who will be responsible for overseeing issues that come under the Competition's scrutiny, designed to increase 'Respect & Sportsmanship' through applying consistent standards.
Non-playing staff have been instructed not to enter the field of play at half time or full time. They are asked to allow match officials to return to their Dressing Room unimpeded. This will reduce the potential of confrontation, which often leads to scenes that discredit those individuals concerned and their Clubs. These unhelpful scenes frequently lead to unpleasant incidents which result in strong disciplinary sanctions being imposed by the Football Association.
The second initiative is the reinforcement of a practice introduced by the Conference approximately six years ago. The Board has mandated Clubs to ensure that any member of its bench personnel, if dismissed from the Technical Area by the Match Referee, must be directed to a place that does not afford a view of the pitch, for the remainder of the match. The object of the exercise being to prevent continuing undesirable conduct, in full gaze of the viewing public; and to protect the participant from being the subject of similar unpleasant conduct from others.
Chairman Brian Lee commented: "The Conference has been showing an improvement year on year with on-field player discipline, which is a welcome trend; but we accept the actions of some individuals still raise concern. The two areas now to be focussed upon have been identified in various communications received from supporters who attend matches. Unacceptable language is also high on the agenda of dislikes pointed out by spectators, particularly those attending with children. Collectively we must recognise that 'family values' are so important, if clubs are to see long term return from their efforts to encourage and retain future generations of support".
"It is impossible to remove all emotion from our game, and no football lover would want to, but the lack of self control demonstrated by a few individuals needs to be addressed. Bad language and confrontation on the field with match officials is unseemly and erodes our efforts to attract more families. Quite simply, these are elements of our great game which The Vanarama Conference seeks to eradicate. Clubs have been warned to take ownership and how to do it.
Individuals who misbehave will be accountable to the Football Association. Ultimately though it is down to our Members to enforce the directives on a match day. Penalties can be punitive. We want our Clubs to sit up, 'smell the coffee', and advise their Staff how to conduct themselves, thus avoiding stringent financial penalties and the unnecessary suspension of individuals for their lack of self control".
SEASON TICKETS ARE READY!
Available for collection on Tuesday and Thursday
Season tickets for this season's Vanarama Conference campaign are ready! Those applicants who enclosed a stamped addressed envelope will have their tickets posted tomorrow (Monday) and those who wish to collect their tickets will be able to do so from the Club Office on Tuesday (from 11am - 4pm) and Thursday (11am - 4pm) and from the Clubhouse on Tuesday evening (from 7.30pm - 9pm) and Thursday evening (from 7.30pm - 9pm). Unclaimed tickets will be available for collection at the tickets turnstile on Tuesday, 12th August, when we entertain Dover Athletic.
IRON WIN AT WEALDSTONE
Dan Walker gets the goal
Braintree Town continued their pre-season build-up with a single-goal victory at Wealdstone's Grosvenor Vale ground. The deciding goal came nine minutes before the break when Dan Walker's low effort from the edge of the box could not be held by the home 'keeper Jonathan North and crept inside the near upright. Iron hit the post after the break but could not ado their tally. Next up for Braintree is a re-arranged friendly match at Peterborough Northern Star this coming Tuesday, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
DEVS SIGNS BRISTOL CITY DEFENDER
Mitch Brundle joins Braintree
Braintree Town Manager Alan Devonshire has added defender Mitch Brundle to the Iron Squad for the coming season. Mitch, who will be twenty in December, started his career at Millwall and Yeovil before signing his first contract at Bristol City last summer. Although Mitch did not make a first team appearance for the Ashton Gate club, he did make eight League Two appearances while on loan at Cheltenham Town earlier this year.
YOUNG HAMMERS HIT DOUBLE BLOW
Devs test two more trialists
A youthful West Ham side proved too strong for the Iron in the penultimate friendly of the pre-season, running out 2-0 winners on the night. Alan Devonshire looked at his options again, offering two trialists a start who went on to play the majority of the game. Iron did win a penalty late on, which was well saved by the West Ham goalkeeper, playing in front of a decent turnout again at Cressing Road. Dan Sparkes found himself through five minutes into the game when a wayward pass was picked up inside the West Ham half. Sparkes' shot was easily collected by the West Ham 'keeper, but Braintree created another chance just moments later. Sam Habergham tore down the left hand side, blazing a ball across the face of goal which was taped just wide of the right post in a lively start for Iron. Elliott Lee was then caught offside twice by a Braintree back line that were quick off the mark, including a trialist looking to fill the right centre back position. A chance was soon dealt to the trialist up the other end, who side footed with his left over the bar from a corner just a few yards out. Dan Sparkes played in a free kick from the right twenty minutes in, but again the delivery could not be capitalised on before West Ham had their first real opportunity to put the visitors ahead. Being played in from the left, Kieran Sadler ran unchallenged at the Iron backline, drilling his shot across goal, but just wide of Hamann's left post. Sparkes soon had another chance when a backward header set up a volley for Dan, who fired over with 30minutes played. Elliott Lee looked as if he had stepped into the same shoting boots when he fired his effort over down the other end following some nice build up play from the visiting side. Hamann pulled off a great save when Josh Cullen blasted a shot hard and low, but with Braintree failing to clear their lines, the deadlock was to be broken. The rebounded ball found its way to Kieran Sadlier, who fed into the path of Elliott Lee. Lee side footed unchallenged into the back of the net three minutes before the referee's half time whistle. With mass changes in the visiting team, a slow start to the second half meant that it was almost 15 minutes before a chance was created. Mulley put one over for the home side, but it was again Elliott Lee that stung Iron, slotting home a close ranger to double the away advantage. The West Ham trialist who was introduced in the second half took a shot after failing to win a free kick with a dramatic fall, firing wide from a way out. Kieran Sadler repeated the same effort seconds later, followed by an attempt with his other foot which flew over and into the car park as the Hammers searched for a third. A quick ball into Sam Habergham from a free kick inside the West Ham half allowed the left back to send in a searching ball. However, that was all it was to do when failing to find an orange shirt, it skipped to safety. Minutes later, James Mulley won a penalty when he was brought down going away from goal inside the visitor's penalty area. Kenny Davis stepped up, but the West Ham goalkeeper dived down well to his right to prevent the skipper from pulling one back before the full time whistle. Iron travel to Peterborough Northern Star in the final friendly of their pre-season campaign with their next home game against Dover Athletic on Tuesday 12th August. Braintree Town: Hamann, Peters, Habergham, Paine, Massey, Trialist, Davis, Trialist, Sparkes, Brundle, Mulley. Subs: Petney, Case, Cutajar, Maybanks, Moore, Green, Gomis. West Ham United: Brown, Westley, Page, Cullen, Burke, Pusk, Turgott, Bywater, Lee, Lletget, Sadlier. West Ham United 2nd half: St Louis-Hamilton, Westley, Onariase, Makasi, Akinola, Knoyle, Diangana, Lletget, Trialist, Lee, Sadlier. Subs: Maiga. Match report by Chris Pargin.
IRON RECOVER FROM 2-0 DOWN TO WIN
Bakare brace and Mulley winner secure victory
Braintree Town made the journey around the M25 to visit Ryman League side Kingstonian and, despite going two-goals behind early on, recovered to win 3-2. Goals from Sam Page and Andre McCollin gave the K's a 2-0 lead before Michael Bakare reduced the deficit before the break. Bakare added a second with 20 minutes remaining to level the scores before James Mulley netted the winner with five minutes remaining to secure the 3-2 win. Next up for Braintree is the visit of a West Ham United XI this evening - Tuesday 29 July. Kick-off tonight is 7.45pm and admission prices for the game, which is pay at the turnstiles on the day, are as follows: £10 for adults, £7 for OAPs and those still in full time education, £5 for under 16s and £3 for under 11s. A small quantity of programmes will be on sale at 50p.
ELLIOTT TURNS EARLY IRON LEAD
Davis penalty puts Braintree ahead
Braintree Town were beaten 2-1 at home by last season's Promotion Final winners Cambridge United at Cressing Road on Saturday. Iron had the best possible start when they took a second minute lead. James Mulley was fouled in the visitors 18 yard box and skipper Kenny Davis stepped up to tuck the resultant spot kick past United keeper Chris Dunn. But the advantage didn't last long as United levelled within another two minutes. Ryan Donaldson released Tom Elliott behind the static Iron defence and he took a touch before placing his shot past the exposed Nick Hamann. United added the winner on the hour. Nick Hamann produced heroics to deny Harrison Dunk's effort, but could do little as the resultant corner was swung over by Donaldson and headed home by Elliott. Next up for Braintree is a trip to Ryman Leaguers Kingstonian on Monday evening, followed by the visit of a West Ham United XI the following evening - Tuesday 29 July. Kick-off on both Monday and Tuesday is 7.45pm and admission prices for the West Ham United game, which is pay at the turnstiles on the day, are as follows: £10 for adults, £7 for OAPs and those still in full time education, £5 for under 16s and £3 for under 11s. A small quantity of programmes will be on sale at 50p.
FRIENDLIES CONTINUE WITH CAMBRIDGE VISIT
Iron host United before their return to the Football League
Braintree Town host their fourth pre-season friendly match against Football League opposition this coming Saturday, 26th July, when newly promoted Cambridge United are the visitors to the Cressing Road Stadium. Iron and United were regularly paired over the Christmas and New Year holiday during the past three years and last season saw Braintree lose 1-0 at The Abbey on Boxing Day, but win the delayed return at home 1-0 in February, courtesy of a goal from Dan Sparkes. Cambridge United went on to win promotion via the end of season play-offs. Having defeated FC Halifax Town 2-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals, The U's booked their return to The Football League after a nine year wait with a 2-1 Promotion Final victory over Gateshead at Wembley, with goals from Liam Hughes and Ryan Donaldson. Kick-off is 3pm and admission prices for the game, which is pay at the turnstiles on the day, are as follows: £10 for adults, £7 for OAPs and those still in full time education, £5 for under 16s and £3 for under 11s. A small quantity of programmes will be on sale at 50p.
IRON XI BEATEN AT CHELMSFORD
Early goals too much for Braintree
A strong Braintree XI made the short journey to Conference South neighbours Chelmsford City for another pre-season match last (Wednesday) evening and came away beaten by three goals to one. Iron were behind in the opening minute when Mark Hughes headed home from close range and Michael Cheek doubled that advantage on 12 minutes when his shot bounced over Nick Hamann. Luke Callander's quickly taken free-kick made it 3-0 just before the half hour before Jordan Cox completed a well-worked move to reduce the arrears before the interval. Braintree did a little better during the second half, but it remained goal-less and the match finished 3-1. Next up for Braintree is the visit of Cambridge United this coming Saturday afternoon for another pre-season match, with kick-off at 3pm.
QUINTON TESTIMONIAL A SUCCESS
Thousands raised for Iron legend
Iron long-term servant Brad Quinton stepped onto the Cressing road pitch for one last time in his testimonial match against Ipswich Town. The sun shone on Brad and the team in what made for a great send off for the Iron man whose 546 appearances will go down in Braintree Town history. The first half saw a very strong Iron side take on the Tractor boys, in what turned out to be an even affair for much of the first half. Kenny Davis and Sean Marks had chances, but it would be the visitors that would take the lead. Ipswich trialist Leeroy Lita found himself through on goal when he received a ball over the top from Bru. Only an arm across Lita's body prevented the shot, and subsequent free kick fired over the bar before Dan Walker fired into the goalkeeper's hands up the other end on the half hour mark. But it was Ipswich who found the back of the net five minutes later when Lita was presented with a tap in from Nathan MacDonald. MacDonald dived low to parry a free kick from just outside the area into Lita's path, who could do nothing but score from just yards in front of the goal line. Bakare did well to intercept 2 minutes before half time coming on as a substitute, turning to shoot from outside the box, but fired well over. It was Brad had the final chance of the half himself, standing over a free kick with intent, but blasting into the Ipswich wall to find himself on the wrong end of a 1-0 score line at half time. The Tractor boys had the chance to extend their lead ten minutes into the second half, with Petney's bar struck from a free kick. Quinton stepped up again for the home side on the hour mark for a free kick 25 yards out. The shot was drilled low and into the 'keeper's arms in what would be Brad's last kick in an Iron shirt. Walking off to a standing ovation, Brad applauded the crowd showing his respect for the Iron faithful, taking up a seat in the dugout to watch the remaining 30 minutes. With wholesale changes in the second half, both sides failed to really threaten; the biggest applaud going to the announcement of over £3000 being raised for Bradley from the game. There's no rest for Iron who will travel to the Melbourne tonight to face Chelmsford City in their next pre-season friendly. Attendance: 467. Match report by Chris Pargin.
BRAD QUINTON TESTIMONIAL ON TUESDAY
Braintree Town v Ipswich Town
This coming Tuesday evening, 22nd July we will be entertaining an Ipswich Town XI. The match will be a testimonial game for long-serving player Brad Quinton who has reluctantly had to retire from the game after making 546 appearances for the Club. Brad will be playing on Tuesday evening and all Iron supporters are invited to show their appreciation for a true Braintree Town man. Kick-off is 7.30pm and admission prices for the game, which is pay at the turnstiles on the day, are as follows: £10 for adults, £7 for OAPs and those still in full time education, £5 for under 16s and £3 for under 11s.
DEV'S WORK IN PROGRESS
51 points and the need for better