Goals aplenty to entertain the faithful
The curtain came down on another season of Conference football for the Iron, and it came down in some style, a six goal thriller. The Iron attack ran riot at times and really put the Altrincham defence to the sword, the game finishing with a 4-2 victory.
The Iron started brightest and within minutes had fashioned a chance for Jordan Cox, who could not keep his header down. Moments later Mitch Brundle burst from right back, slalomed through the Altrincham defence and powered a shot at goal that required a smart save from David Parton to see it over the bar. After fifteen minutes Simeon Akinola showed his talent, dancing past a defender before being body checked by Gianluca Havern. Akinola stepped up to take the free kick and his missile of an attempt barely changed direction in flight, flying narrowly wide of the mark. Cox had another great opportunity to score when Kenny Davis gently chipped the ball over the Altrincham defence, putting Cox in behind them. The shot from Cox flashed across the face of goal, a whisker wide of the far post.
Having had plenty of opportunities to score, the Iron broke the deadlock hitting Altrincham on the break after the visitors had enjoyed a decent spell of possession. Akinola used his pace to get around the defence and was once again unceremoniously body checked. Dan Sparkes was given the responsibility of taking the free kick and delivered wonderfully finding an unmarked James Mulley. Both Mulley and Cox were queuing up unmarked on the six yard line to head it home, with Mulley getting to the ball first to nod it low into the bottom left corner. The goal came after thirty-five minutes.
The Iron had been on top and deserved to take the lead and almost doubled it immediately with a headed attempt from Davis dropping wide of the goal. Altrincham however found the equaliser just three minutes after the Iron had taken the lead. Some neat passing whilst hitting the Iron on the break created room on the edge of the box for James Lawrie, his shot looked to take a deflection on its way through, as it had wrong footed Nick Hamann.
The teams went in at half time level, a fact that aggrieved Mark Sansom as he stated at full time that he felt Braintree had been by far the better team. Once the second half started it did not take long for the Iron to get back on top. Having toe poked an effort wide moments earlier, Cox was on hand to take advantage of a defensive error by Gianluca Havern. A weak attempt to pass back to the keeper was pounced on by Cox who was clean through on the left side of the box and Cox rifled a half volley into the opposite corner.
The following five minutes were fast and furious from the Iron who did not allow Altrincham any time or space to breathe. Even the Iron defence were bursting forward with real intent with all the action firmly entrenched in the Altrincham half. Dan Sparkes was desperately unlucky not to have scored what would have been the goal of the game, a dipping, curling effort from outside of the box that cannoned against the crossbar. The crossbar was still shaking when Sparkes whipped an excellent ball into the box which was headed beyond the reach of Parton by Cox rising high at the far post to double his tally.
The pace left the game after the Iron built the two goal cushion, happy to absorb the pressure applied by Altrincham, who had a number of half chances but were unable to show the same lethality that the Iron had displayed. On seventy-eight minutes, however, Altrincham were given too much space and clawed a goal back. Nicky Lee galloped forward and found Kyle Perry out on the left wing. Perry drilled in a low cross with the outside of his boot that flashed across the face of goal and in off of the inside of the post, Hamann being deceived by the direction of the ball again.
The goal kick started the Iron once again and Alan Massey blazed an effort wide of the goal. The pressure and attacking play from the Iron paid dividends again as Bernard Mensah used his fresh legs to finish the scoring in the eighty-second minute. Mensah pounced on a loose ball and used his pace to get clean through on goal. From the edge of the box Mensah calmly slotted his shot passed Parton into the far bottom corner.
There was almost a late chance for Cox to finish with a hat trick when George Pullen put him in on goal, the linesman however had his flag raised. There were plenty of positives for the Iron to take from the game, and if a potential new manager was watching the match, then they surely would had been encouraged by what they saw. For Mark Sansom it was a result that gave him great pride, he went on to say that the result and performance were a thank you to the fans for their support throughout the season.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Matt Paine, Joe Maybanks (Sean Marks, 84 mins) Simeon Akinola, Dan Sparkes (Bernard Mensah, 75 mins) James Mulley (George Pullen, 78 mins) Jordan Cox. Unused Subs: Carl Pentney, Michael Bakare. Altrincham: David Parton, Adam Griffin, Gianluca Havern, Scott Leather, James Lawrie, Ryan Crowther (Kyle Perry, 57 mins) Damian Reeves, Nicky Lee, Tom Marshall, Jake Moult, Jordan Sinnott. Unused Subs: Steven Gillespie, Kyle Perry, Sean Williams, Simon Richman, Peter Cavanagh. Attendance: 535. Match report by Ryan Delaney.
Wrexham prevail in North Wales
Iron made the long trip to sunny north Wales to face FA Trophy finalists Wrexham and returned home beaten by three goals to nil. It was a strong performance for most of the game from the Iron, despite the 3-0 score line, and had they not been cruelly forced into substitutions could have come away with a share of the points. Wrexham have now gone eleven matches unbeaten at the Racecourse Ground.
From the first corner of the game Wrexham headed the ball against the bar, after ten minutes Carl Pentney had to be alert after a goal mouth scramble resulted in a shot straight down the centre. After half an hour there was concern for Sean Marks who went down after a clash of heads. Moments later Chez Isaac thumped a twenty-five yard effort narrowly over the bar that had Andy Coughlin struggling. Having recovered from a knock to the head, Marks had to be replaced with Jordan Cox having picked up another injury.
The last few minutes of the half were dominated by the Iron. Bernard Mensah pounced on dawdling Wrexham defence and pinched the ball high up the field. In a two on two situation Mensah rolled the ball to his left, into the path of Cox who bent an effort inches wide of the post. Minutes after, Dan Sparkes volleyed an effort from the edge of the box that went fizzing wide of the goal. The last effort the half fell to Mitch Brundle who meandered across the Wrexham half before thumping an effort over the bar. At half time it was goalless, yet it was the Iron that looked most likely to make the breakthrough. The Iron had been more solid at the back and were effectively breaking down Wrexham attacks in the midfield. Substitute Cox had also picked up an injury, bringing the total to two, but Cox was able to continue.
The second half started fairly evenly, but the Iron were dealt a massive blow when a clash of heads left Matt Paine with a broken nose, forcing a substitution, Simeon Akinola taking to the field. The deadlock was broken in the sixty-second minute by Louis Moult. The Iron were unable to clear a long throw from the right channel, the ball only reaching the edge of the Iron box. Pentney was able to get behind the following shot from Sam Finley, but could not hold onto the ball and Moult was on hand to tap in from close range. To add further insult to injury Isaac had to be carried off the pitch, the forth injury of the day, and replaced with James Mulley, who is himself not at full fitness.
With both Paine and Isaac having to be replaced the Iron were no longer winning the majority of the midfield battles. Moult got his second goal of the game in the seventy-eighth minute. Wrexham worked the ball well to the right wing and to Joe Clarke who was in space. Clarke then whipped in a dangerous cross that Moult met with his head at the near post, a few yards from goal. Moult got real purchase on his header which took it past Pentney, slamming against the crossbar and into the net.
Andy Bishop wrapped up the scoring in the ninetieth minute when he nodded a Jay Harris cross beyond Pentney. The result does not reflect fairly on the battling performance from the Iron, and had there not been so many injuries the result could have been remarkably different. Mark Sansom stated at full time that the injuries disrupted the flow of the team and that never before has he been forced to make all three substitutions due to injury. The Iron will hope that they can shake off their knocks and perform the way they did in the first half against Altrincham next week.
Wrexham FC: Andy Coughlin, Neil Ashton, Manny Smith, Blaine Hudson (Anthony Stephens, 30 mins) Louis Moult, Andy Bishop, Dean Keates, Steve Tomassen, Rob Evans, Connor Jennings (Joe Clarke, 63 mins) Sam Finley (Jay Harris, 86 mins). Unused Subs: Wes York, Kyle Storer. Braintree Town FC: Carl Pentney, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac (James Mulley ,67 mins) Matt Paine (Simeon Akinola, 53 mins) Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Sean Marks (Jordan Cox, 40 mins) Dan Sparkes, Bernard Mensash, Remy Clerima. Unused Subs: Nick Hamann, Joe Maybanks. Attendance: 2766. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Iron looking for new manager
Braintree Town Football Club will be looking for a new manager for next season. On Saturday the Board offered Alan Devonshire an extension to his current employment on the same terms and, to assist with our preparations for next season, we asked for an answer by Thursday evening. Last night (Thursday) Alan declined our offer and the Club will now be seeking applications for the post.
Chairman Lee Harding said: "We had a lengthy chat with Alan on Saturday and advised him that we would like him to remain with us for a fifth year. Alan advised that he had been approached by third parties for next season and was not prepared to sign as he felt that he wanted to speak with them. We agreed to give him until Thursday evening to consider our offer, but he was still not prepared to sign. The Board have therefore decided to ask Mark Sansom to act in a caretaker role for Saturday's trip to Wrexham and at home to Altrincham a week on Saturday.
On behalf of all of us, I'd like to thank Alan for his efforts over the four seasons he was with us, more so this season when a number of injuries have made the job difficult.
But now the Board look forward to a new era and new challenges. We continue to make progress with our discussions on relocation. Both Braintree Council and the Club are taking time to ensure we get the arrangements right, but we have made real progress in recent weeks and hope to be in a position to make an announcement on our future in June.
As a club we like to think we have our feet on the ground. We've always said that we have ambition tempered with reality and want to play our football at the highest sustainable level. Our current stadium meets the entry requirements for the Football League, but a small fortune would need to be spent on further improvements, so we believe relocation to a purpose built stadium is the best way forward.
Over the coming weeks we will be looking for a new manager that can work with the Board to build a team on the pitch to compete and help prepare us for the challenges that lie ahead."
Cox and Isaac do the damage
Braintree Town made the long journey up the M6 for a mid-week Vanarama Conference trip to Southport and came home winners by two goals to nil to move up to fifteenth place. Iron made a positive start and could have taken the lead when Southport keeper Thompson performed heroics to twice deny Jordan Cox within a matter of seconds on fourteen minutes. Cox headed just wide on 23 minutes as Iron continued to press.
But Southport came more into the game as the half progressed. On 35 minutes the Lancashire side took advantage of a Clerima mistake, but Steven Hewitt's shot was well saved by Nick Hamann and the Iron keeper had to be at his best two minutes later to deny Louis Almond. Goal-less at the break Southport started the second half better, but it was Iron that scored with arguably their first attack eleven minutes after the re-start when Bernard Mensah's cracking cross from the left was headed home by Jordan Cox.
On 69 minutes Matt Paine could have had a penalty when he was pushed in the home 18-yard box, but Southport then broke only for George Donnelly to miss the target when well placed. On 73 minutes Connor McCarthy's header missed the target for Southport and, a minute later, Hamann did well to deny Tom Davies header. Southport had a penalty appeal waived away on 82 minutes, but Iron added a second on the counter.
Akinola broke from deep and released Sam Habergham. The Iron left back set up Dan Sparkes who, in turn, teed up Chez Issac to drill the ball into the top corner. Brundle tried his luck from deep on 87 minutes, but just failed to hit the target. Iron saw out the remainder to register an ultimately comfortable win.
Dan Sparkes hits the target again
With a fifth consecutive season of Conference football confirmed the Iron took on an Aldershot side who had also just secured their status for next season. Prior to the game the Iron boasted an unbeaten home record against the Shots, and have two wins from the last two fixtures between the sides. There was no third straight victory for the Iron, however their unbeaten home record against the Shots remains.
The Iron started the brightest and within the first minutes of the game Mitch Brundle was afforded plenty of space, allowing him to attempt a 35 yard half volley that clipped the edge of the post on its way out, with Phil Smith unable to get anywhere near the shot. Brundle was very lively and moments later he had another chance, darting into the box between two Shots defenders and unleashing a low drive that had to be held by Smith. After five minutes Brundle had another attempt, latching onto a low cross from Jordan Cox in the middle of the box. The Aldershot defence were out of shape but managed to block the attempt and get the ball clear.
As the first half wore on the Shots came into the game. After twenty-five minutes a dangerous through ball by Sean McGinty put Ryan Jarvis behind the Iron defence down the left channel. Jarvis was then able to turn past Remy Clerima putting him through one-on-one with Carl Pentney, however, Jarvis only managed to find the side netting with his effort. The warning signs were there for the Iron as the Shots were pressing and the goal had been coming. On twenty-nine minutes a low cross from the right wing across the face of goal was latched onto by Sam Hatton a few yards from goal to easily tap in. There were protests from the Iron defence and Alan Devonshire stated after the game that he was certain that Hatton had been a few yards offside for the goal.
There was not much to separate the two teams at half time. The Iron had dominated the first twenty minutes of the first half but could not turn their dominance into goals. The Shots on the other hand had been able to find the breakthrough when they were on top of the game.
The Iron came out for the second half as lively as they had done in the first half. Sparkes had his first sight at goal five minutes into the second half after he volleyed a high cross from the left edge of the box beyond the far post. Sparkes was setting his sites as six minutes later Sparkes bagged the equaliser, his tenth of the campaign. Simeon Akinola had a quiet first half, but it was his powerful running and expert close control that got himself into a dangerous position. Akinola then played a brilliant ball into the box behind the Shots defence for Sparkes to run onto. Sparkes was calm and composed as he slid the ball under the outrushing Smith into the bottom corner of the net.
The rest of the second half was finely balanced between the two teams and either team could have snatched a winner. Carl Pentney, making his first appearance of the season had to be alert after a direct run and powerful shot from Mark Molesey had to be tipped over the bar. With ten minutes left on the clock Tristan Plummer found space on the right edge of the Iron box. His drilled shot, turn cross, fizzed dangerously across the face of goal, but went harmlessly wide.
The Iron had plenty of possession and territory and came close to taking the lead ten minutes after the equaliser when a dipping cross into the six yard box deceived an Aldershot defender and was almost converted. Kenny Davis had a long range drive whistle wide of the post in the closing stages of the second half, before substitute Joe Maybanks had a sniff at goal, his long range shot curling wide of the goal.
At full time Mitch Brundle felt the result in many ways reflected the way the Irons season has unfolded. He stated that the Iron should have been in the lead early on, maybe by a few goals, but had not taken their chances and had been punished. He did praise the character of the team to come back out and dominate long spells of the second half and to get back into the match. A draw may have been a fair reflection, but the Iron certainly could have won the game.
Braintree Town FC: Carl Pentney, Ryan Peters (Bernard Mensah, 45 mins), Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, Mitch Brundle, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Jordan Cox, Dan Sparkes, Simeon Akinola (Joe Maybanks, 90 mins). Unused Subs: Matt Paine, James Mulley, Nick Hamann. Aldershot Town FC: Phil Smith, Sean McGinty, Damon Lathrope, Glen Wilson (Cheye Alexander 60 mins), Chris Barker, Sam Hatton, Brett Williams, Tristan Plummer, Jordan Roberts, Ryan Jarvis (Andre McCollin 74 mins), Jim Stevenson (Mark Molesey, 38 mins). Unused Subs: Dan Thomas, Giorgio Rasulo. Attendance: 621. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
Victory at Nuneaton delivers National League football
Braintree Town made the short journey to Nuneaton Town on Easter Monday and came home winners by the only goal of the game. Scored by the in-form Dan Sparkes, with just nine minutes remaining, the three points lifted Iron to sixteenth in the table and also secured the Club's status in next season's Vanarama National League. Iron had the better of the first half and could have taken the lead on 25 minutes when Bernard Mensah's shot was deflected by the feet of home keeper Max Crocombe onto the bar and away. Jordan Cox was replaced by substitute Mitch Brundle on the half hour after a clash of heads left the Iron striker needing stitches from the club doctor. After the break the home side came more into the game with Nic Hamann having to be at his best to deny Josh Rees. But Iron always looked lively on the break and, with nine minutes left, good work from Sam Habergham and Sim Akinola set up Dan Sparkes who steered the ball home from just inside the home 18-yard area. The Braintree defence stood firm to the late home onslaught and were good value for the three points. Next up for Iron is the visit of Aldershot Town to the Miles Smith Stadium, this coming Saturday, 11th April, with kick-off a 3pm.
Too many players already on the beach
Iron slumped to their third consecutive defeat in eleven days when going down to the Imps in a defeat which left manager Alan Devonshire "bitterly disappointed and flummoxed" by his side's inconsistent performances.
"We started so well and for the first 20 minutes dominated the game, hit the bar and had our chances but they catch us twice on the break in their only real attacks of the half and through bad defending on our part we go two goals down," he said. "We get ourselves back into the game a minute before half time but four minutes after the restart we give another bad goal away and we're 3-1 down.
"I told the players at half time to keep it tight for the first 15 minutes or so and then we can push forward and even win the game," he explained. "But we don't and even at 3-1 down we still had chances to get ourselves back in the game, although I admit in the last 15 minutes of the game we all looked tired and they we were well in control.
"I can't understand our inconsistency and I know we are down to the bare bones of a squad but that's no excuse," he continued. "Since the win at Torquay we've gone backwards and at the end of today's match I had harsh words to say to the players along with a few home truths.
"We've now got to dust ourselves down and get ready for the tough trip to Nuneaton and I shall expect to see some honest endeavour there because we don't want our season with five games to go just to fizzle out," he added. "We owe it to the loyal supporters who keep backing us even when we play badly as we did today."
The Iron's first 20 minutes in this game saw them dominate the game and on 16 minutes Alan Massey was unlucky to see his dipping 35 volley beat keeper Paul Farman but hit the underside of the bar and the ball kicked clear while both Chez Isaac and Simeon Akinola had shots saved.
But against the run of play it all went wrong for the Iron on 26 minutes when Ben Tomlinson was allowed to skip in from their left wing and drive the ball goal ward and although keeper Nic Hamann did get a touch to it the ball bounced off him and into the net.
On 32 minutes the visitors had a second and again it was through dreadful Iron defending down the home side's right flank where Jordan Cranston drove the ball into the penalty box straight to Jordan Burrow who slid the ball home with a first time shot past Hamman.
The visitors were successful when they did attack because they passed the ball better and created space while the Iron's all too often long ball up the front was of no problem for the Umps' defence.
Dan Sparkes gave the Iron a lifeline a minute before the break when he curled in a low left-foot shot round the defensive ball into the far corner of the net - a goal badly needed to boost the home side's confidence.
But the game was effectively over four minutes into the restart when Burrows grabbed his second from close range with two Iron defenders static close to him yet nobody closing him down.
The Iron still had chances to have come back into the game but this season's problem of not having a proven goal scorer showed itself again and although Sparkes, Jordan Cox and Akinola had half chances there was no penetration with their final deliveries.
At the other end only good work by Hamann kept the visitors from adding to their goal total on a day Iron fans will want to forget because late on they looked tired and jaded while the visitors continued to push for more goals.
Braintree Town: Hamann; Brundle (Mulley 37), Massey, Paine, Haabergham; Peters, Davis, Issac (Moore 91), Sparkes; Cox (Mensah 76), Akinola. Unused subs: Maybanks, Pentney. Referee: Justin Amey. Attendance: 650.
Iron three goals down before the break
Braintree journeyed to the West Midlands to visit Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday and came home beaten by three goals to one. Iron looked to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Telford with an improved performance with a trip to Aggborough to face Kidderminster Harriers. Iron had to contend with a pitch that was in a poor state and a number of questionable officiating decisions. It was defeat for the Iron and they remain one point away of the fifty point target.
There was an early test for Nick Hamann as Lee Hughes was played in behind the defence with a long pass. There were suspicions of offside, Alan Devonshire certainly felt so, but play continued. Hamann had to get down low to make the save and then to smother the ball. It only took eights minutes for the first goal to arrive. The goal came from a ball played from the Kidderminster half, over the top of the defence, which Danny Wright was able to latch onto thirty yards from goal. Wright bore down on goal and withstood the pressure from Mitch Brundle and placed his shot just out of reach of Hamann.
The second goal came just four minutes later as Lee Hughes was again found in space behind the defence. It looked to be another offside but again play continued. Hughes had his back to goal and attempted to play in Wright with a back heel, the ball instead deflected off the legs of Alan Massey and back into the path of Hughes who burst into the box and fired it in low from an angle. Keith Roland's at full time expressed his disappointment in conceding the first two goals from deep passes.
The best chance of the first half for the Iron came when a delightful through ball from Kenny Davis put Simeon Akinola behind the Kidderminster defence. Akinola lined up his shot, but as he took a swing at the ball it bounced on the rough pitch and the shot was sliced into the crowd. There was a moment of real concern for the Iron after half an hour when Sean Marks was caught on the ankle after a strong challenge. Jordan Cox came onto the field as Marks injury required him to be substituted.
With five minutes to go before half time Wright bagged his second goal of the game. A deep free kick from just inside the Iron half was floated into the box and was only half cleared by the defence with the ball falling to the feet of Jack Byrne on the right wing. Byrne had the time to pick out the head of Wright who was unchallenged at the near post, the header going low to Hamann's left.
It had been a poor first half for the Iron having conceded three first half goals for the first time this season in the league. Keith Rowland conceded at full time that it would have required a massive effort to comeback from three goals in this league.
The Iron made an immediate impact scoring within the first minute of the second half. It was Kidderminster who kicked off but lost the ball in midfield. Kenny Davis was afforded the time and space to pick his spot with a thirty yard peach of an effort that curled into the far top corner. It was a fantastic effort from the captain and it had Kidderminster rattled.
Just moments later Bernard Mensah had an opportunity to peg Kidderminster back to one goal. After some tenacious play by Davis to win the ball in the Kidderminster half, Mensah was played in on the left side of the box, his low shot at goal beat Danny Lewis but went agonisingly wide of the far post. The Iron had the better of the second half and created another opportunity, this time for Matt Paine who was lurking on the edge of the Kidderminster box. Davis fed the ball low and to his feet, but again the pitch may have changed the balls direction as the shot was scuffed wide of the goal. After some neat play Akinola burst down the left wing, crossing low into the box and finding the feet of Mensah. Again the shot at goal was scuffed and trickled wide of the goal, Chez Isaac managed to keep the ball in play and win a corner, but nothing came of it.
The Iron won the second half but were unable to create and convert enough chances to overturn the three goal half time deficit. The Iron will instead have to look at reaching the fifty point target at home to Lincoln.
Kidderminster Harriers FC: Danny Lewis, Jared Hodgkiss, Jake Green, James Fry, Nathaniel Kelly, Jack Byrne (Luke Maxwell 71 mins), Danny Wright (Akwasi Asante, 75 mins), Jamie Grimes, Aman Verma, Callum Gittings, Lee Hughes (Ahmed Obeng, 87 mins). Unused Subs: Keyin Reffell, Kevin Nicholson. Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac (Dan Sparkes 71 mins), Matt Paine, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Sean Marks (Jordan Cox, 34 mins), Simeon Akinola, Bernard Mensah (James Mulley, 81 mins), Ryan Peters. Unused Subs: Joe Maybanks, Carl Pentney
Attendance: 1379. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
Braintree fail to impress in front of bumper crowd
Live TV cameras beaming the game around the world, over two-thousand inside the ground, the stage was set for the Braintree players to impress, as they had done the previous week in the 5-1 win at Torquay. Iron went into the fixture on a decent run of form, unbeaten in the last three and on the back of a spectacular drubbing of Torquay in their own backyard. AFC Telford on the other hand started the match staring bleakly at the ever looming prospect of relegation having lost their previous three fixtures. In front of a bumper crowd, Telford went against the form book as they showed greater lethality in front of goal, claiming a 2-0 victory.
It was a fairly scrappy start to the match, possibly the nerves of playing in front of cameras, with the Iron exerting the most pressure but unable to break through the Telford defence. Sean Marks did test James Montgomery with a half volley that was dipping wickedly under the crossbar. It was comfortable enough for Montgomery to hold onto as the shot came down the centre of the goal. Simeon Akinola, back in the starting line-up, threatened the Bucks goal with a ferocious effort from outside the box, his effort going wide of the goal.
As the first half wore on Telford grew in to the game and had a number of set pieces that gradually became more threatening. Glenn Matthews slammed a speculative 40 yard free kick into the billboards, narrowly wide of the goal. It was Marks who was having the best chances for the Iron. He created a his own opportunity when he flicked on a high ball over the defence, spun and chased his pass, bearing down on goal. His shot had pace and was just out of the reach of Montgomery, but was also just narrowly wide of the goal.
Both teams went in at half time with neither keeper seriously being tested. The Iron had not been at their best but had created a few chances and looked solid in defence, the Bucks had at times looked threatening, particularly from set pieces, but had also been sloppy with their passing, the second half was all to play for.
Five minutes into the second half a low cross from the right wing bounced into the six yard box and was pounced on by Marks. Montgomery had seen the danger and had come out to make a save with his body. The loose ball was unceremoniously hacked clear by the defence for a corner. It was a better start to the second half by the Iron as they showed more attacking intent.
The first goal came after fifty-nine minutes and arguably came against the run of play, as the Bucks hit Braintree on the counter they found plenty of space to get a strong shot away and Nick Hamann was forced to make a great save low to his right. The ball was parried away from goal with Bradley Reid in possession with his back to goal. As Reid attempted to find space he was fouled by Remy Clerima and the referee gave the Bucks a penalty. Tony Gray stepped up to place the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal, with Hamann diving the opposite way. The goal came as a blow to the Iron and a boost to the Bucks, up until the goal the Bucks had not asked any serious questions of Hamann in the second half but took their chance when it presented itself.
It took just five minutes for Telford to double their lead through Danny Ventre. It was again from a counter attack that the opportunity arose as Godfrey Poku picked the ball up in midfield and burst forward evading the Iron challenges. The Iron did not have enough men back to cope as the ball fell nicely for Ventre thirty yards outside of the box. Ventre was able to take a touch to set himself before curling the ball into the bottom right corner.
The Iron kept on plugging away looking to get themselves back into the game but could not create an end product. A Chez Isaac free kick was met in the middle of the penalty area by an unmarked Akinola, his touch set the ball narrowly wide of the goal with two other Iron players lurking unmarked. Another chance came after a handful of Iron crosses were half cleared before rolling out of the box and into the path of Kenny Davis. The shot was low and hard but it was drilled narrowly past the post. The Iron's final chance to find the net came from a dangerous cross to the far post that deceived John Disney as he nearly diverted the ball into his own net, the ball bouncing agonisingly wide.
It was a tough result for the Iron as they were not overwhelmed or outplayed by the Bucks. It was a result that hinged on the Bucks taking their chances when they came, which were also the clearer chances. The fifty point target will have to wait a little bit longer.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Matt Paine (Jordan Cox, 73 mins), Kenny Davis, Sean Marks, Bernard Mensah, Simeon Akinola. Unused Subs: Joe Maybanks, Ryan Peters, James Mulley, Carl Pentney.
AFC Telford United: James Montgomery, Neill Byrne, Mike Grogan, Adam Farell (Ross Dyer, 90 mins) Tony Gray, Sean Clancy, Godfrey Poku (John Disney, 81 mins) Danny Ventre, Glenn Matthews, Ian Sharps, Bradley Reid. Unused Subs: Andy Pryce, Jordan Deacey, Sam Smith.
Attendance: 2115. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
Free admission for game against AFC Telford United
Braintree Town, supported by the Braintree & Witham Times, BBC Essex, Community Iron and Titan Storage Solutions will be offering FREE admission to all for this coming Tuesday evening's Vanarama Conference match against AFC Telford United, 24th March with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Chairman Lee Harding was quick to thank both their sponsors for their excellent support: "We really do appreciate the help and support in spreading the word about the free admission for this game. We know times are hard for a lot of people at the moment and that many follow the Club, but are unable to afford the cost. To say thank you to all our regular supporters and help those that would like to come along, we've decided to make the game free to all-comers and hope that the town and district will get behind the team for what is a big game for us."
For more details of how to find the ground click on the 'Find Us' link above!
Braintree impress in first trip to Torquay
Braintree made the long two hundred and fifty mile trip to the English Riviera to face Torquay United away for the first time. It turned out to be a journey well worth taking as the Iron celebrated St Patricks day by doing the double over Torquay and hammering them in the process 5-1, the heaviest home defeat inflicted on Torquay for twenty years.
It was a great start for the Iron, producing a goal within four minutes of the game. A deep cross by Mitch Brundle from just inside the Gulls half was expertly controlled by the chest of Sean Marks. Marks had the time and space to take another touch to put the ball into the path of Dan Sparkes who was making a run into the box. Sparkes shot low and hard to the left of the goal, out of reach of the outstretched leg of Martin Rice.
Braintree may not have had as much possession as the Gulls, but in the opening exchanges they looked sharpest. Matt Paine tested the alertness of Rice with a curling effort from the edge of the box, a sign of things to come, before a low cross on the left wing from Sparkes was met at the near post by Marks, who had gotten past his defender and in front of Rice. His effort had too much spin on the ball as it bounced narrowly wide of the far post with the net gaping.
The equaliser came in the twenty-third, when a free kick floated into the box was palmed into the path of John Campbell. Nick Hamann was unable to get any real purchase on his clearance and Campbell was on hand at the back post to fire the ball under the sliding body of Paine.
Torquay were asserting themselves onto the game and Hamann was kept busy with a few shots from outside the box. Kenny Davis was doing his defensive duties, clearing a low shot from a corner off the goal line. The Iron defence all had to do their part as they weathered the storm, looking composed under pressure.
With five minutes left of the half the Iron retook the lead with a swift, incisive counter attack. Marks was able to win a high ball and pass it to the feet of Bernard Mensah in space. Mensah then played a precise pass through the Gulls defence, perfectly in the path of the rushing Sparkes who was left one on one with keeper Rice. Sparkes took a touch to set himself up before unleashing a high drive that soared into the top corner. It was a sublime finish that had Rice unable to get near the shot.
At half time the Iron had had less possession than the Gulls, yet it was the Iron that looked the most dangerous on the attack. Torquay came out for the second half swinging and from a corner they hit the crossbar. Some neat play by the Gulls saw them work the ball into a dangerous position on the right wing. The cross sent in was low and hard and required a vital block from Matt Paine to prevent a goal scoring opportunity.
Torquay were pushing for an equaliser and when the Iron regained possession it left the Gulls defence exposed. On seventy one minutes and within minutes of coming onto the pitch, Simeon Akinola ran at the Gulls defence and was like a hot knife through butter, skipping past a challenge before threading a ball into the path of Sparkes. The use of three centre backs and wing backs by Torquay allowed plenty of space on the wings, which the Iron took advantage of. Sparkes picked the ball up on the right side of the box and finished his chance with aplomb, thundering his shot into the net off of the underside of the bar. Sparkes deserved his hat trick with three sublime finishes and when he was substituted he was applauded by Iron fans and Gull fans alike.
Akinola was showcasing his talent as soon as he took to the field and moments after setting Sparkes up for a third he had a low stinging shot turned around the post by Rice. Torquay were rattled by the third goal and the Iron took an iron grip of the game and just four minutes later had a forth. Akinola took a run at the Gull defence before feeding the ball to Sparkes on the edge of the box. Sparkes powered a shot at goal looking for his forth but his shot was blocked by Sean Marks ricocheting to the feet of Matt Paine outside of the box. Paine had his attempt saved by Rice earlier in the game, but Paine's powerful, precision effort this time could not be kept out. The Iron were queuing up to get a shot away, and Paine had plenty of options had he chosen not to shoot.
Braintree were in a ruthless mood. Marks attempted to head a ball into the box into the path of substitute Ryan Peters. The header was not dealt with and the ball dropped in front of Peters just yards from goal. Peters did not hesitate and pounced on the loose ball, poking it past Rice to further the Irons impressive lead. It was only his second goal for the club, the first this season, and came after being on the pitch for only six minutes.
Alan Devonshire felt that the final score line was not flattering to Braintree and was a fair reflection of the quality that Braintree showed, and in particular Dan Sparkes. Devonshire went on to say that the result had been coming as the Iron had been performing well in recent games without getting the points they deserved. It was Braintree's biggest win of the season and was delivered at a former league club.
Torquay United FC: Martin Rice, Aaron Downes, Krystian Pearce (Jordan Chapell, 55 mins), Luke Young, Ryan Bowman (Liam Prynn 67 mins), Toby Ajala, Courtney Richards, Levi Ives, Ollivier Gueguen, Aaron Dawson, John Campbell (Louis Briscoe, 85 mins) Unused Subs: Courtney Cameron, James McQuilkin. Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac, Matt Paine, Alan Massey, Kenny Davis, Sean Marks (James Mulley, 90 mins), Dan Sparkes (Ryan Peters, 76 mins) Bernard Mensah (Simeon Akinola 67 mins), Remy Clerima. Unused Subs: Joe Maybanks, Carl Pentney. Attendance: 1103. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Iron earn deserved point on greasy pitch
Braintree Town travelled down the M4 to face play-off hopefuls Forest Green Rovers and came home with a deserved point from a 1-1 draw. Iron were arguably the better of the two sides first half on a heavy playing surface made more tricky by the use of pre-match watering! But, despite their promising start, Braintree fell behind on 23 minutes when Rovers' Charlie Clough headed home Rob Sinclair's corner. Iron continued to push forward and Mitch Brundle levelled when his 30 yard free-kick evaded home 'keeper Arnold and sailed into the top left hand corner. The second half again saw Iron start brightly, but they were pushed back late on as the Nailsworth side threw players forward in increasingly desperate numbers. The Iron defence held firm and were good value for the draw. The point leaves Iron in 17th, looking forward to Tuesday evening's trip down the M4 and M5 to visit Torquay United.
Council's feasibility study - a crossroad in our history
We caught up with Chairman Lee Harding at the weekend and there appears to be some progress with the Club's hope of relocation to a new stadium.
We understand that Braintree District Council have received the results of their long awaited feasibility study into the possibility of relocating the Club from its existing Cressing Road home to a new purpose-built stadium, ready for the Football League, at land allocated in the Council's Core Strategy growth location at Panfield Lane.
Both parties have been working hard behind the scenes over recent months. In August last year, the Council completed the purchase from Essex County Council of the vacant land off Chapel Hill for the sum of £1.2 million.
The Club too have worked hard to maintain Vanarama Conference football, while striving to operate on a sensible financial footing and retain all their assets to put towards the cost of relocation. The Club currently own the stadium freehold and have a lease on the land adjacent, which the Council and the Club are currently discussing.
Both the Council and the Club have been sensibly cautious about the deliverability of the new stadium. Both want to ensure that the Club can afford relocation and that the new facility will secure the long-term future of the Club and be an asset for the community.
Chairman Lee Harding said: "I think that we are fortunate in Braintree in that we have a well run local authority and football club who have both been very focused on the affordability of the new stadium. We've been talking to the Council about moving for eleven years now and have seen the location allocated for the new stadium site in the Council's Core Strategy."
He added: "We are happy to contribute all we can towards the new stadium and this study really is a crossroads in the Club's history. We like to think we are ambitious, but sensibly so. We have seen many clubs prosper following relocation, clubs like Burton Albion, Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town - who were non-League clubs before new stadiums provided the facilities and financial impetus to reach the Football League. That said, we are very wary of the clubs that have struggled when they have not planned relocation thoroughly like Rushden & Diamonds and Darlington, so it's right that we take our time."
Harding concluded by saying: "The draft feasibility study from their independent consultants is with the Council and we understand it was to be discussed last week at Causeway House. We hope to see an approved copy for discussion at this week's Club board meeting and we can then start making some decisions about our future. Fundamentally about whether we plan for a new stadium or look at how we further develop our existing site at land off Cressing Road."
More news when we have it!
Free admission for Vanarama football
Braintree Town, supported by both the Braintree & Witham Times and BBC Essex will be offering FREE admission to all for the Vanarama Conference match against AFC Telford United on Tuesday 24th March, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Chairman Lee Harding was quick to thank both the local newspaper and radio for their excellent support: "We really do appreciate their help in spreading the word about the free admission for this game. We know times are hard for a lot of people at the moment and that many follow the Club, but are unable to afford the cost. To say thank you to all our regular supporters and help those that would like to come along, we've decided to make the game free to all-comers and hope that the town and district will get behind the team for what will be a big game for us."
For more details of how to find the ground click on the 'Find Us' link above!
Braintree get the victory recent performances have deserved
Having lost their last four games by a single goal, Iron bounced back against play off hopefuls Gateshead with a win. The result was again decided by a solitary goal, this time the Iron taking all the points on offer, Kenny Davis the goal scorer.
Chances were few and far between at the start of the match, Bernard Mensah met a Kenny Davis cross but headed harmlessly over whilst Matty Pattison flashed a cross along the six yard box out for a goal kick with no one able to make any contact.
There was a moment of concern after half an hour when Davis was caught high on the leg after a challenge from Pattison, who escaped a booking. Davis was down for a while receiving treatment but was able to continue, albeit gingerly. It was a challenge that aggrieved Alan Devonshire, as he stated after the game he was certain had Davis had his leg anchored then it would have possibly been broken by the challenge.
Both teams were looking to test each others defence with a mixture of crosses from the wings and neat link up play, but neither team managed to deliver a goal scoring chance.
The first half finished goalless with neither goalkeeper being seriously tested. It was a battle in the midfield with neither team able to fashion a clear cut chance. The game had an end of season feel to it, surprising given that Braintree have not yet hit their points target and Gateshead are chasing a play off place.
The second half started a little nervy for the Iron, a miss-kick from Remy Clerima saw Alex Rodman through on the right side of goal. Rodman slipped around the outrushing Nick Hamann, but had been forced wide to the by-line. Rodman attempted to put the ball across the box but only managed to find the side of the net with Mitch Brundle having the near post covered.
Akinola came very close to opening the scoring moments later. Sam Habergham did well to break down a Gateshead counter attack at the half way line and carried the ball into Gateshead territory. Habergham fed the ball into the feet of Akinola on the left side of the box. Akinola advanced with the ball and passed it low to Bernard Mensah who then laid the ball back into the path of Akinola. Despite pressure from three Gateshead defenders Akinola managed to connect well with the ball curling and dipping a powerful effort that slammed into the middle of the crossbar, out of the reach of Bartlett. Just moments later Akinola managed to wriggle himself into space this time on the right hand side of the goal, his shot however blazed over the bar.
The Iron were showing more intensity when going forward and Mensah had an opportunity to open the scoring when attempted to divert the ball into the net with his heel following a low corner. Bartlett scurried across the face of the goal but Mensah's attempt was dragged just wide. At the other end of the pitch Nick Hamann had to be alert when Rodman got a solid connection with on a deep cross from John Oster.
Kenny Davis got the only goal of the game after sixty-nine minutes from the penalty spot, calmly dispatching his effort low to the left corner of the goal, Adam Bartlett diving the other way. The penalty was won by Mensah, who had been tripped by Pattison as he latched onto an Akinola flick on. A partnership between Akinola and Mensah flourished in the second half and their skilful interchange got the better of the Gateshead defence. There were few complaints from the Heed regarding the referees decision and Alan Devonshire was convinced the officials made the correct call. Devonshire was full of praise for Davis after the match, not only for being able to soldier on the heavy challenge, but for stepping up to take the spot kick.
The Iron had been firmly on top since the second half and Akinola kept probing for a goal and again came close after seventy minutes, drilling a powerful effort from outside the box just wide of the far post. It was a defensive finale to the match for the Iron who had to withstand a barrage of crosses. Gateshead however were unable to get any real purchase on the handful of attempts they created with Hamann able to gather the crosses with relative ease. Braintree were defending well but at times were unable to get their lines clear or hold onto the ball allowing the Heed to keep attacking. Substitute Adam Campbell, bursting into the box, almost had a free header in injury time, but the ball narrowly evaded the top of his head and Remy Clerima was able to smash the ball clear. There was not enough venom in the Gateshead attack to create an equaliser, and the urgency they showed came too late in the game, as the Iron held them at bay to secure the victory
It was a deserved victory for the Iron, after a lacklustre first half, their endeavour in the second half put them ahead and secured the three points. It was a result that put a smile on the face of Alan Devonshire as the Iron edge ever closer to the targeted fifty point mark. It was a result that Devonshire hopes to build on, especially with the anticipated return of Jordan Cox, Sean Marks and Ryan Peters all to full fitness in the upcoming fixtures.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Alan Massey, Remy Clerima, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Matt Paine, Dan Sparkes, Simeon Akinola (Ryan Peters, 89 mins), Bernard Mensah (Joe Maybanks, 90+4 mins) Unused Subs: George Pullen, Carl Pentney, Sean Marks. Gateshead FC: Adam Bartlett, Jamie Chandler, James Curtis, John Oster, Carl Finigan (Kevin Sainte-Luce, 72 mins), Rob Ramshaw (Adam Campbell, 72 mins), Craig Baxter, Alex Rodman, Matty Pattison, Valentin Gjokaj, Lynden Gooch (Jon Shaw, 72 mins). Unused Subs: Dillon Morse, Michael Rankine. Attendance: 515. Match Report by Ryan Delaney
Fourth successive defeat for Braintree
A frustrating evening for Iron resulted in a single goal from the visitors taking all three points in a game that Braintree would have felt that they had the upper hand for the vast majority of the game. With Iron dominating possession and goal mouth action, but failing to create clear cut chances, a first half goal from Alex Grant coming from a loose clearance would steal the game from Iron, who will have been disappointed not to have had the ball in the back of the net at least once during the night.
Iron gained two good chances from dead balls early on, the first of which Sean Marks failed to control when he chested a ball played in from Davis into the goalkeepers arms. The second free kick on the left hand side was floated into the box and nodded on by the defending visitors.
Paul Lewis had to resort to a long range effort from around 35yards out for Macclesfield's first attempt, his shot floating innocently over the Iron bar. Sean Marks had further efforts in the air before Matt Paine blasted an effort from outside the box which drifted just wide. Iron were the dominant side in the opening quarter of an hour, looking comfortable at the back but failing to create the clear chance to fire themselves ahead.
After a relatively quiet 10 minutes in terms of chances, Thierry Audel saw yellow for a high challenge on Sean Marks. Akinola's feet proved too quick for even him as we hit the 25 minute mark when he knocked a ball past the final man unknowingly, failing to latch onto the pass to himself which would have seen him through on goal. It was Akinola again who would cause problems for the visitors, picking up a ball with his back to goal. Akinola found space to turn and shoot hard and low, but watched his effort skip past the post and out for a goal kick. As the game grew older, Akinola found the ability to create plenty of space for his pacey runs, which worried the Silkmen's defence as they failed to keep up with both the forwards mind and feet.
Against the run of play, Macclesfield made the most of a corner from 25 yards out on 38minutes to deal a cruel blow against the run of play. A floated ball into a congested area lead to confusion in the Iron box. The hosts could clear only as far as Alex Grant on the edge of the area, who dropped a shoulder and placed the ball cooley into the bottom left hand corner, handing the visitors a goal advantage before the break.
Without many faces familiar with first team football on the bench, Devonshire decided against changing things at half time, and it was only Kenny Davis' shot from way out which presented any form of chance early on. Davis set himself up from around 25yards out, but failed to test Taylor five minutes into the second half.
Braintree began to pile pressure onto the visitors, with some great work between Sparkes and Habergham to set up Marks with a lofted cross, whose looping header fell onto the roof of the net. Sparkes tried his luck from 20yards out with a hard shot that forced Taylor to parry and collect the rebound, which he had plenty of time to do.
Paul Lewis picked up a yellow on the hour mark for a cynical foul, and Brundle fired the resulting free kick toward the top corner with an effort equally match by a solid looking Rhys Taylor in goal.
Though Iron remained on top, they could have been punished further on 70 minutes when they failed to clear their lines. A loose ball bobbled from man to man around the Iron box, eventually poked clear to relieve the danger. Habergham was then called into action, stealing the ball from Holroyd before he could unleash a shot from 6 yards out in a shakey spell for the home side.
Cowen picked up a yellow for bringing down Akinola 25 yards from goal, but Sparkes could not level the scores when his attempt flew over. With seven minutes left of the 90, Brundle floated a ball in which was tipped over by Taylor. The resulting corner was pinged at the keeper, and a scramble in the area saw a loose ball launched clear to keep the visitors a goal to the good.
Iron could not further push the equaliser, and the clock was run down to hand the away side all three points on the night. Against the run of play for most of the game, but with Braintree failing to take their chances, the opportunity for one goal to devastate the Iron was always on the cards.
Alan Devonshire commented after the game on the performance. "I can't fault what they are giving me. It's one of those days at the moment in the last three or four games. If we keep doing what we are doing we will be fine."
"I just said to them in there keep your heads up and we go again on Saturday. We should have Chez back and Barnard back on Saturday so we will have more bodies back."
"The injuries we have had again has crippled us. At the end of the day if there were two games to go and we had to win the last to I would be worried. We'll knuckle down again and go on Saturday."
Braintree Town: Hamann, Brundle, Habergham, Clerima, Massey, Paine, Davis, Peters (Maybanks 72), Sparkes, Akinola, Marks. Subs: Pullen, Moore, Pentney. Macclesfield Town: Taylor, Halls, Audel, Pilkington, Lewis, Holroyd, Fairhurst, Moke (Rowe 79), Cowan, Grant. Subs: Branagan, Rowe, Bailey Jones, Turnbull. Referee: Nick Kinseley. Assistants: Christopher Francis and Mark Potkins. Fourth Official: Carl Pearse. Attendance: 445. Match report by Chris Pargin.
Iron score but it gets waived away
Iron suffered a third defeat on their travels in a week at Grimsby Town on Saturday, but it could all have been so different if an early chance that seemed to cross the goal-line had been allowed to stand.
A long week of travelling culminated in a trip to Blundell Park to face Grimsby Town, who are currently play off hopefuls. It was the eighth time the Iron have faced the Mariners since August 2011. In the Irons two previous hard fought away trips they were denied a share of the points by late goals. The last fixture against the Mariners was decided by a solitary second half strike in an otherwise uneventful affair. It was an almost exact replica in this fixture, Grimsby winning with a solitary second half strike, this fixture however was slightly more exciting. The win for Grimsby now makes it three in a row for them against Braintree.
It did not take long for the Iron to fashion their first chance of the game. Sean Marks showed his strength to shrug off Shaun Pearson and latch onto a ball into the box. From a few yards out Marks took a swing at the ball but was unable to connect properly, the ball dribbling across the six yard box. James Mulley was first on hand to the shot, his effort being fumbled by James Mckeown as the ball crossed the goal-line. Grimsby were struggling to clear their lines and Dan Sparkes slide in to attempt to force the ball the few yards it needed to go back over the goal-line. Pearson had other plans and nicked the ball away from the toes of Sparkes, but not as far as Kenny Davis who was lurking on the penalty spot. Davis had time to pick his spot as the Grimsby defence were still in disarray, his shot was too strong and whistled just over the bar. It was the best chance of the half.
James Mulley started the match but had to be replaced early on in the game by Joe Maybanks, a product of the Academy and just seventeen. It was a lengthy run out for the young player and valuable experience of the first team.
After the bright start from the Iron, the Mariners grew into the game, crafting a few chances but nothing of any value and Nick Hamann had not had to make a save in anger throughout the first half, despite the amount of possession the Mariners had.
The second half started with intensity and a goal after forty-seven minutes. Carl Magnay slipped to ground as he attempted to play the ball forward out of defence and it ironically turned out to be the prefect cross for Craig Disley who had made a run behind the Iron defence. The header was from the middle of the box and looped over the head of the stranded Hamann and had stunned the Iron. Grimsby started the second half at pace and continued to probe after opening the scoring but could only fashion one chance of real value, with Jack Mackreth blazing over.
Braintree played their best football after going behind, showing more urgency and committing men going forward. There was however no end product, the net only rippling when Mitch Brundle fired a shot in from the right wing with the ball skimming the roof of the net having already gone wide.
A tough day got tougher with the dismissal of Chez Isaac in the eighty-sixth minute, a second yellow card given for a tackle that Isaac slide into. Alan Devonshire stated after the match that he felt it was a harsh decision as Isaac had clearly won the ball, there were also no protests from the home team. There was nothing malicious in either of the incidents that the referee chose to card Isaac for, something which Devonshire was keen to express. The Iron worked right up to the last whistle and were helped by Grimsby's inability to keep the ball and run down the clock. In added time Sean Marks got clean contact with a header but could not direct it at goal and Akinola had a chance with a half volley, bur he could not wrap his foot around the ball and it sailed harmlessly over.
It was a result that on another day could quite easily have gone another way. As it is, its a third straight away defeat for the Iron against tough opposition. Despite the result, Devonshire was proud of the effort that his players put in, especially as the team was down to the bare bones. He conceded that it had been a long week for the Iron but is looking to put it all behind them with the fixture against Macclesfield coming up.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Alan Massey, Remy Clerima, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes, Sean Marks, Simeon Akinola, James Mulley (Joe Maybanks, 18 mins(Ryan Peters, 77 mins))
Unused Subs: George Pullen, Joe Moore, Carl Pentney. Grimsby Town FC: James McKeown, Shaun Pearson, Carl Magnay, Jack Mackreth, Craig Disley, Lenell John-Lewis (Daniel Parslow, 85 mins), Craig Clay (Scott Brown 75 mins), Jon-Paul Pittman, Nathan Arnold (Christian Jolley, 68 mins) Aristote Nsiala, Gregor Robertson. Unused Subs: Ross Hannah, Oliver Palmer. Attendance: 3339. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Harsh dismissal leaves Iron with too much to do
Braintree Town made the journey to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday evening and came home beaten by the odd goal in three. Iron looked the livelier of the two sides early on and it was against the run of play when the home side took the lead. On the half hour, a hopeful ball from deep saw Rovers Matt Taylor escape behind the Iron defence. He was brought down inside the 18-yard box by Matt Paine who was then rather harshly dismissed for denying a goal-scoring opportunity, despite being surrounded by other Braintree players. Taylor despatched the resultant spot kick, but Iron continued to take the game to the home side and drew level on 38 minutes. Sim Akinola was set up on the edge of the home 18-yard box and turned his marker before his acrobatic over-head volley saw him crash the ball into the top corner. The second half saw the home side dominate possession, but struggle to break down the Iron defence until six minutes from time. A neat inter-change between substitute Ellis Harrison and Taylor opened up the Braintree defence for Harrison to then slide the ball passed the exposed Nick Hamann. Next up for Iron is a trip to play-off hopefuls Grimsby Town this coming Saturday, with kick-off at 3pm.
Late goal hard on Braintree
Braintree made the journey up the A1 to visit FC Halifax Town and came home beaten by a solitary goal. On a difficult playing surface, the Braintree players certainly put in a shift and were a match for their play-off chasing hosts for the duration. Goal-less at the break, Iron had a couple of chances to take the lead after the break, only to concede in the ninetieth minute when Jamie Jackson headed home Jack Muldoon's cross from the right. It was a cruel outcome for Iron, who had caused the home side problems from the off. Kenny Davis saw his shot zip just wide of the target after 15 minutes and both Remi Clerima and Chez Isaac also saw their efforts sail over before the break. After the interval Sean Marks saw his effort well saved by home keeper Glennon on 64 minutes as Iron pushed forward and Glennon did well again four minutes later to deny Sim Akinola. As the half continued Davis, Mitch Brundle and Akinola all had half chances before the last minute drama. Next up for Iron is a trip to championship-chasing Bristol Rovers this coming Tuesday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Two new dates
PAN Disability players aged 7-16, regardless of ability or experience, can enjoy football in a non-competitive environment at free Youth Soccability Sessions starting on Saturdays from 21st February at Notley Sports Centre in Braintree.
Footballers with differing impairments can play together at sessions from 11:00am-12:00pm being run by Disability4Sport, in partnership with Braintree Town FC and Fusion Lifestyle. FA-qualified coaches will be present to set-up the fun format and, after an initial six-week spell, they'll continue in the future should there be sufficient interest.
The ultimate aim is to establish Under 16s and Under 12s teams with Braintree Town YFC who will take part in the Essex County FA's monthly Soccability Festivals, where sides comprised of footballers with differing impairments playing together. As the sessions are taking place in a sports hall, non-marking footwear is required.
To confirm your attendance, contact Abigail Saxon via (01206) 619631 or firstname.lastname@example.org including your name, age, parent/guardian emergency contact and relevant additional information. To find out more about Soccability in Essex, contact your local Football Development Officer, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for 'EssexFootball' on Facebook.
Popular right back hungry for more
Our website reporter Ryan Delaney caught up with fans favourite Ryan Peters on Saturday to talk about hitting 200 games for the Club ...
Q- Reaching two hundred appearances for Braintree Town is quite an achievement. When you first signed for the Iron did you think you would reach such a milestone?
A- No not at all. You try to be at a club as long as you possibly can, but after my first season here under Robbie Garvey there was a bit of turmoil towards the end, he left and I didn't know where I stood. So I embarked on trying to get my career at Staines, which didn't work and I ended up back here, thank you very much to the directors for doing that, because ever since then we have gone from strength to strength up the league. So no I did not think that, but now I am here, there is nowhere else I would rather be.
Q- So another two hundred appearances maybe?
A- I would like to do that if I can, yeah!
Q- How much has Braintree Town changed since you made your debut?
A- In terms of the facilities maybe not, its been the same club for a while, but in terms of personnel, the gaffer has come in and has straight away changed things with the help of the directors and the board. Players, its a different squad today, miles much, much better than what we had going back to the start of three or four seasons now when we were in the Conference South. If you have a bad game, there could be a chance you will never get back in the side again. I mean he (Alan Devonshire) sent two boys out on loan who are brilliant. Charlie Strutton is prolific in this league and for him to be out loan at this moment in time is because of the quality that we have got here, which shows how far we have come as a club and that is testament to the gaffer.
Q- So you will have to keep working hard to keep getting appearances?
A- Yea, but if you take a look at training, we train two times a week and it is quite intense and the gaffer wants it that way. If you are shirking your responsibilities in training there is no way he will play you on Saturday.
Q- Will you be doing anything in particular to celebrate the milestone at all?
A- No, not as yet. I reached two hundred appearances with Kenny (Davis), that was an achievement in itself, Kenny has been a great servant to the club and captain. And to be assistant captain, I am just following in his footsteps. Hopefully at the end of the season we will both be doing something together, not too sure what yet but we will have to wait and see.
Q- Of all your appearances, what would you say was your best game in an Iron shirt?
A- Probably the Barnet game this season. They came over here top of the league, flying, we knew we had to put in a performance, they have two great wingers, the gaffer told me straight away you have to get as tight as you can, and that is what I did, I was able to make myself the winger that he was chasing rather than me chasing him. That was probably my best game.
Q- And what would you say was the best team performance or result that you were involved with?
A- Team performance was against Cambridge, either last season or the one before, it was at home, we won 3-2, we were 3-0 up with ten minutes to go and went on to win it 3-2. It was when the likes of Nicky Symons and a few others were still here, it was a massive team performance.
Q- Is there a ground or fixture that you most look forward to?
A- If we are looking at any team then I would love to go to Old Trafford, but that would only come via the FA Cup. Other than that playing against Luton, with eight thousand fans, always buzzing, looking at the game we played at their ground on T.V. The fans were brilliant the atmosphere was brilliant, that is what we want to play in front of every week. Unfortunately they have gone up now so we don't get to play them as much any more. But look there is more to look forward to, we have Bristol Rovers next week, I am sure that will be a stadium to visit.
Q- Are there any players you have a rivalry with at all?
A- This season definitely. When we played Forest Green here, Elliot Frear, there are not many wingers that get the better of me but he gave me a bad time. I intend to put that right when we play them again. I played him a couple of seasons ago when he was at Salisbury, he didn't do what he did to me last time, so I am aiming to put that right when I play him again.
Q- And finally, what are your thoughts on the season so far, and how do you think it will finish for Braintree?
A- Its been a weird, indifferent season, we have got further than we have for a while in the FA Trophy, which I suppose has hampered our climbing up the league. But now we are out of the FA Trophy, the sky's the limit and if we look at where we could escalate from, seasons before we have been lower than where we are now and still gone on to finish in ninth and sixth as well so there is nothing to stop us doing exactly the same again. If we win, and I know it's a massive ask, if we can win ten out of our last sixteen games, there is nothing to stop us from making the play offs. But first and foremost fifty points and stay safe and go from there, we know that every season.
Thanks to both Ryans - here's to the next 200!
Two new dates
A new date for our home Vanarama Conference game with Macclesfield Town has been agreed. The Silkmen will now visit the Miles Smith Stadium on Tuesday, 3rd March with kick-off at 7.45pm. Our Vanarama Conference match at home to AFC Telford United has now been put back from the previous Saturday to Tuesday, 24th March, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Braintree defeat Alfreton again
Iron recorded a two-goal win double over Alfreton Town at the Miles Smith Stadium on Saturday. The last time the two teams met, the Iron came out victorious with a 2-0 score line with Kenny Davis and Dan Sparkes finding the net. This time however it was Sean Marks and Chez Isaac who came up with the goods. Braintree went into the match having not played in ten days due to Torquay's commitments in the FA Trophy. Alfreton on the other hand had recently picked up a draw against Forest Green after twice coming from behind, as well as a 4-2 victory over Southport. There was no comeback for the Reds this time as the match finished as a 2-1 victory for the Iron.
The Iron had a the first opportunity to open the scoring after four minutes. Simeon Akinola had a shot blocked by Jason Mooney who was quick off his line, the rebound fell to the feet of Jordan Cox outside of the box. Again Mooney was on hand to make a block, there were suspicions from the Iron players that he made the save outside of the box, but nothing was given.
Cox had to be replaced with Sean Marks after less than twenty minutes due to a heavy fall when competing for a header. Cox had been lively in the time that he had been on the pitch and had been holding the ball up well. After the game Alan Devonshire stated it was a change had had not wanted to have to make as Marks had not been able to train in the last ten days. Devonshire was however delighted with the impact that Marks had on the game.
Akinola had perhaps his best chance of the game towards the end of the half when he connected with a cross from Isaac on the edge of the six yard box. The shot was however marginally wide of the mark as Akinola did not get clean contact with the ball.
In the final minutes of the half, after being shepherded out of play by Matt Paine, Karl Hawley forced his fist into the face of Paine, it was clearly an attempted punch. The referee saw the event and controversially decided that it did not warrant at a yellow card let allow a dismissal, a decision that angered Alan Devonshire on the touchline. Devonshire remarked after the match that he felt the referee had clearly made the wrong decision.
The second period started brightly, with both teams showing more urgency and attacking intent, particularly sending in crosses. The Iron however looked the most dangerous when going forward, as well as assured in defence. The first sniff of goal in the second half was for the Iron. It was from a dangerous cross into the box by Sparkes that caused a scramble. Alfreton managed to clear but Isaac whipped in another cross that was almost turned behind for an own goal but Mooney was able to get down low and hold onto the ball. Nick Hamann had to make his first save of the afternoon shortly after when Karl Hawley connected with a cross, flicking it on towards goal, Hamann however was able to comfortably hold onto the ball.
Mitch Brundle had a sight at goal and unleashed a powerful low drive that stung the fingertips of Mooney as he sent it out for a corner. Sparkes sent in a dangerous cross that Alfreton were unable to clear from danger and Isaac also took a shot from range which was deflected out for another corner. Sparkes again curled in a great cross that was met at the back post by Marks. Marks header was bulleted across the goal and over the reach of Mooney. After the game Marks said the cross from Sparkes really put the chance on a plate for him. The goal came in the sixty-second minute.
The game had really come to life for Braintree and they were immediately in search of a second. After yet another Sparkes cross the ball was half cleared to the edge of the Alfreton box where the unmarked Isaac had a great chance to score, his shot was however went agonisingly over the bar. Isaac did not take long though to put himself on the score sheet. Akinola showed great skill to get past two defenders before crossing from the edge of the box. The ball ricocheted around the area before finding Isaac at the far post, almost exactly where Marks had scored from. Isaac latched onto the ball and slotted a calm finish past Mooney into the far corner. The two goal lead was well deserved for Braintree who were in the ascendancy.
The Iron had a chance to extend their lead when Sparkes broke into the Alfreton box, his shot fizzing over the bar. Sparkes then linked up neatly with Akinola on the left wing, both working their way into the box, but Akinola was unable to get his shot away. Sparkes was again amongst the action late on in the game, whipping another teasing cross into the path of Marks. It was another good header from Marks, who aimed it low to the keeper, this time however Mooney was able to theatrically save with his foot.
Alfreton Town had not been quiet the whole game, Braintree had however been able to effectively deal with everything that had been thrown at them. When Alfreton scored, it was in the third minute of four additional minutes. Substitute Andy Thanoj had a blistering long range effort palmed away by Hamann. The shot was too much for Hamann to handle and the rebound feel kindly for fellow substitute Anthony Howell to nod home. It was a tense final minute for the Iron, but Howells goal proved to be nothing more than a consolation.
It was a strong performance from the Iron, they showed no rustiness from not having played last week. Alan Devonshire said in his post match interview that he felt the team thoroughly deserved the win and could have scored more on another day. Sean Marks had similar comments to make and also stated that he and the team are confident heading into the next fixture at Halifax.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Mitch Brundle, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, Matt Paine, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes (Joe Maybanks 89 mins), Jordan Cox (Sean Marks, 18 mins), Simeon Akinola. Unused Subs: Ryan Peters, Sean Marks, Joe Maybanks, Carl Pentney, James Mulley. Alfreton Town FC: Jason Mooney, Jordan Keane, Luke Graham, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Niall Heaton, Bradley Wood, Daniel Bradley (Andy Thanoj, 82 mins), Tom Shaw (Joe Leesley, 65 mins), John Johnston (Anthony Howell, 62 mins), Karl Hawley, Lee Stevensen. Unused Subs: Andi Thanoj, Joe Ironside, Thomas Flynn. Attendance: 468. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Meal for two and best seats in the house!
Our congratulations go to Daniel Turner on winning the Vanentines Day draw with us. Daniel and his guest will enjoy a meal with us in the Board Room prior to the game, refreshments at half time and at full time, together with two seats in our director's box.
Bernard Mensah back for second loan
Alan Devonshire has re-signed 20-year old Watford forward Bernard Mensah on loan for the remainder of the season. Promoted in 2011 following a two-year scholarship with Watford, Mensah signed a professional contract. In January 2013, Mensah signed an extension to his contract, committing to Watford until 2016. He scored 14 goals in 19 appearances for the under-18 side during the 2012-13 season before becoming a full professional at the end of the campaign. On 23 November 2013, Mensah made his Watford debut as a 78th minute substitute for Javier Acuna against Bolton Wanderers. This will be the second time that Bernard has been at the Miles Smith Stadium on loan. In January 2014, Mensah joined Braintree Town on a one-month loan. Due to bad weather, which limited his playing time, the loan was extended until the end of the season, playing nine games and scoring twice. Bernard is eligible to play for Ghana or England but has yet to represent either country at any level. In 2011, he trained with the Ghana squad ahead of their friendly against Nigeria at Vicarage Road. However, he was not called up by Ghana and was only asked to join the squad for training due to their depleted squad.
Iron to visit Lancashire in April
Braintree Town's Vanarama Conference fixture at Southport, postponed in December and January, has now been re-arranged. The new date for the game at Haig Avenue is Tuesday, 14th April, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Trips to Torquay and Bristol Rovers confirmed
Two Vanarama Conference fixtures have now been confirmed. Braintree Town have agreed a new date for their postponed trip to Torquay United. Originally scheduled for this coming Saturday, the Vanarama Conference fixture will now take place on Tuesday, 17th March, with kick-off at 7.45pm. As a result of Braintree Town's exit from the FA Trophy, the Vanarama Conference trip to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, 24th February is now confirmed.
Ebbsfleet through to the Quarter-Finals
Braintree Town were knocked out of this season's FA Trophy competition, going down 2-0 at Ebbsfleet United last Tuesday evening. Iron were disrupted by a nasty injury to Dan Sparkes that saw him require urgent paramedic treatment to re-attach a partially severed earlobe and conceded on 37 minutes. Keeper Nick Hamann failed to hold on to a stinging Theo Lewis drive and could only push the ball to the grateful Danny Kedwell who tucked the ball home from close range. Braintree took the game to the Kent side after the break. Both Jordan Cox and Sim Akinola created good chances, but Iron were caught on the counter late on when pushing players forward. With five minutes left Alan Massey was dispossessed on the edge of his own box by Adam Cunnington who then slotted his low strike passed the exposed Hamman. As a result of the defeat, Braintree Town have no fixture this coming Saturday 7th February. Next up for Iron is the visit of Alfreton Town a week on Saturday, 14th February, with kick-off at 3pm.
Guidance from Ebbsfleet
For Tuesday evening's FA Trophy Third Round Replay at Ebbsfleet United, we have been advised by the Kent club that there is no parking for supporters in the club car park. Parking is available at Ebbsfleet International Car Park ÔCÕ and opens at 6-15 for football fans, where there is a charge of £3 but it is a secure car park and easier when leaving the game. We are advised that it is only a short walk to the ground. The game is not segregated so admission can be via the main entrance. Supporters are further advised to be wary of street parking especially under the railway arch near the ground.
Miles Smith Stadium pitch frozen
This afternoon's Vanarama Conference fixture against Macclesfield Town has been postponed due to a frozen pitch. The match referee inspected the pitch at just before 8am this morning and where much of the snow had thawed yesterday, the resulting standing water, unable to drain through the frozen drainage system, had turned to sheet ice. With more snow forecast today, the decision was taken to postponed the game early to save Macclesfield from travelling. More news on a new fixture date when we have it.
Referee to assess pitch after overnight weather
Tomorrow (Saturday's) afternoon's Vanarama Conference fixture at home to Macclesfield Town remains in doubt after snowfall on the Miles Smith Stadium pitch during Thursday evening. Most of the snow melted during the afternoon, but that has left the pitch very wet. With a frost forecast for this (Friday) evening and the Cheshire club planning to leave early on Saturday morning, we have arranged a pitch inspection for 8am. More news when we have it.
Snow and slow thaw causing flooding
Tomorrow (Saturday's) afternoon's Vanarama Conference fixture at home to Macclesfield Town is in doubt after snowfall on the Miles Smith Stadium pitch during Thursday evening. With the temperature today hovering just above freezing, the pitch is starting to thaw, but that is leading to flooding as the drainage below the surface remains frozen. With a frost forecast for this (Friday) evening and the Cheshire club planning to leave early on Saturday morning, Secretary Tom Woodley is currently contacting local referees to determine when we can arrange a pitch inspection. More news when we have it.
Trophy replay and Torquay trip
Following Tuesday evening's 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet United, the FA Trophy Third Round replay will now take place at Ebbsfleet United's Stonebridge Road ground this coming Tuesday, 3rd February, with kick-off at 7.45pm. This replay will see the tie played through to its conclusion and, if necessary, will include extra time and penalties. The winners of this match have been drawn away to Vanarama North North Ferriby United on Saturday 7th February, with kick-off at 3pm. As a result of Torquay United's progress in this season's FA Trophy competition, our Vanarama Conference trip to Torquay United, scheduled for a week on Saturday, 7th February has been postponed - more news on a new date when we have it.
Braintree recover from conceding early
The Iron took on Ebbsfleet United under the Cressing Road floodlights for a place in the FA Trophy Quarter Finals, where the winner would face North Ferriby United. The match had originally been scheduled three days earlier, but had been postponed due the condition of the pitch. After ninety minutes it finished all square at 1-1 with the tie to be decided at Stonebridge Road in a weeks time.
It was a nightmare start for Braintree as Ebbsfleet took the lead very early in the game, after four minutes, when Adam Cunnington converted a header at the near post following a corner. It was a fairly simple goal for Ebbsfleet, and Alan Devonshire speaking at full time felt Braintree could defended the set piece better. Braintree responded well to going behind, getting themselves back in the tie and pumping balls forward looking for Jordan Cox, but it was not long before Ebbsfleet were back on the offensive. It took a smart save from Nick Hamann to prevent the Fleet from doubling their lead when Theo Lewis connected well with a cross eight yards from goal.
It was end to end football and Alan Devonshire felt it resembled more a derby match than anything, plenty of determination from both sides to get forward, but little end product. The Iron had chances from Simeon Akinola and Chez Isaac and the Fleet had a glorious chance when Matt Johnson beat Hamann to a cross and managed to take the ball around him, the touch was too heavy though and the ball went out of play.
Towards the end of the half the Iron were absorbing pressure from Ebbsfleet who were pushing forward. This allowed the Iron to counter with Dan Sparkes bursting down the left wing whipping in a dangerous cross. Kelvin Langmead took a swipe at the cross but almost sliced the ball past his keeper and into his own net with the ball narrowly glancing wide for a corner. From the resulting corner Braintree won a penalty as an Ebbsfleet defender was penalised for pushing in the box. The Iron levelled the tie on forty-five minutes when Kenny Davis, who was making his two hundredth appearance for the club, drilled home from the penalty spot, sending the keeper the wrong way and the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. The Ebbsfleet manager, Jamie Day, was aggrieved at the decision to award a penalty and was subsequently sent to the stands for the second half for exchanging words with the officials.
At half-time the teams went in level in a closely matched contest, with both teams having chances to take the lead. The Iron arguably had the lions share of possession whereas the Fleet spurned a couple of very good opportunities.
The second half started brightly for Braintree as they were in the ascendancy, doing plenty of pushing but not creating any real chances. Ebbsfleet were not done though, and the game opened up even more in the second half with both teams taking it in turns to apply the pressure.
Ebbsfleet came close to taking the lead when Theo Lewis found Kedwell with too much space in the Iron box. Kedwell powered an effort at goal which blazed harmlessly over the bar. Another chance for the Fleet as Kedwell turned provider crossing into Kenny Clark who headed onto the bar. The rebound resulted in a scramble and eventually a scrappy clearance, but the Iron managed to keep the ball from finding the net.
Ebbsfleet had a few more chances, particularly from crosses as they looked dangerous in the air, but they were unable to create anything to really test Hamann. Braintree on the other hand looked dangerous on the counter, especially when Dan Walker came on to the right wing, but the Iron were also unable to play a killer ball into Sean Marks.
The game finished as a draw, a result that Alan Devonshire felt was a fair reflection of the game. Devonshire also had praise for his squad for giving it the best they could, especially as a few players, Cox, Marks and Ryan Peters were not fully fit to play. He also went on to say that the pitch might have made it harder for the Iron as they were unable to play the way they had wanted to. The draw means that the tie will be decided in Ebbsfleet, which will be a tough encounter for the Iron, but they are not out of the Trophy yet.
Braintree Town FC: Nick Hamann, Ryan Peters, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, Sam Habergham, Dan Sparkes (Dan Walker 70 mins), Matt Paine, Chez Isaac, Kenny Davis, Jordan Cox (Sean Marks, 62 mins), Simeon Akinola. Unused Subs: Dan Walker, Carl Pentney, Mitch Brundle, Sean Marks, Joe Maybanks. Ebbsfleet United: Preston Edwards, Matt Fish, Joe Howe (Brendan Kiernan, 26 mins), Kelvin Langmead, Anthony Acheampong, Kenny Clark, Matt Johnson, Stuart Lewis, Danny Kedwell, Adam Cunnington, Theo Lewis. Unused Subs: Brendan Kiernan, Brandon Hall, Dean Pooley, Sean Shields, Jamie Day. Attendance: 404. Match Report by Ryan Delaney.
Pitch fails two pitch inspections
This afternoon's FA Trophy tie at home to Ebbsfleet United has been postponed. Over the past few days the pitch has been frozen and rarely thawed much as the temperature struggled to get above zero. With the pitch still frozen, we had a lot of rain on it last night and the new drainage struggled to cope until it thawed this morning. We started work on it early and had dressed the Quag End goalmouth but, at 12.30, the referee asked for more work on it. He re-inspected it at 1.30 and advised that there was another small area he was concerned with. Both managers were happy to play, but the match referee decided that the pitch was not fit and the game was postponed. The game will now take place on Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45pm.