Ten-man Beavers beaten
Braintree Town clawed their way back to winning ways with this hard fought victory at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium after their midweek defeat at East Thurrock and in the end should really have won by a bigger margin.
With three players out - two with injuries and one suspended - manager Brad Quinton had to shuffle his pack bringing central defender Osa Obamwonyi for his debut and who quickly formed a solid partnership at the back with Mark Okoye.
The game really turned on its head on 18 minutes into the second half when the visitors' defender Jack Cook was shown a straight red card by referee Declan Bourne for hauling down Iron's Dernell Wynter who was clear on goal and reducing the visitors to ten men.
By then the Iron were already two goals to the good having scored a second goal on 53 minutes from the penalty spot by Billy Crook after Luke Allen had been hauled down.
It gave the home side more breathing space with that second goal having opened the scoring a minute before half time with a superbly taken goal by Allen after again brilliant midfield work by Crook.
After the sending off the Iron completely dominated play and in reality should have scored three or four more goals from the chances they created which left Iron boss Brad Quinton less than happy with his players.
"Obviously I'm pleased with the win and the way the players responded from our first defeat in midweek and I can't complain about their attitude, work-rate, motivation and commitment," he said. "I know it's an old clichˇ about it being more difficult to play against ten men but in reality we should have finished the game off with the number of chances we had.
"I know we had three players out today but the lads coming in have done really well, they know they have to stake their place to start games and they played like it," he said. "I'm also disappointed we gave away such a sloppy goal in injury time."
That all stemmed from a mistake by Iron keeper Nathan McDonald allowing Charlie Wassmer to find the net with a scrambled header in the third minute of injury time.
Visiting manager Alan Dowson though lashed out at his senior players for the letting the team down adding: "They committed absolute schoolboy errors and they need to take a long hard look at themselves and their performances today - the youngsters didn't let me down at all.
"It was always going to be difficult going a man down but in the first half I felt we more than matched them and we could have scored first with the couple of chances we had," he said. "I don't think it was a penalty because their lad was in an offside position in the first place."
The home side though missed several good chances in that second half with Phil Roberts, Dernell Wynter and substitutes Marcel Barrington and Tyler Campbell all creating chances.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Obamwonyi , Mugabo (81 Bettache), Okoye ; Schulton, Allen, Crook (86 Campbell), Wyatt; Roberts (75 Barrington), Wynter . Unused subs: Maxter, Stephenson. Referee: Declan Bourne. Attendance: 472.
Next up for the Iron is an away trip to Whitehawk next Saturday, 26th August, with kick-off at 3pm.
Sat 19 August 2017 - Braintree T v Hampton & Richmond B
In 2016/17 Hampton & Richmond B finished 7th in the National League South. Their record last season was: Played 42, Won 19, Lost 11, Drew 12 (69 points). Goals For: 81, Goals Against: 56. Their away record 2016/17 was: Played 21, Won 10, Lost 4, Drew 7 (37 points). Goals For: 45, Goals Against 28. Top scorers: (2016/17): Nicke Kabamba - 16 (now at Portsmouth), Brendan Kiernan & Jamal Lowe - (now at Portsmouth) 15. Last 4 home results: Lost 1-0 v Hemel Hempstead T, Drew 1-1 v East Thurrock U, Lost 2-1 v Ebbsfleet U, Won 1-2 v Welling. Scorers so far this season: Michael Kamara, Ryan Moss & Max Kretzschmar all with 1 goal.
The current early season table shows Braintree T in 8th, Hampton & RB in 12th. Braintree T home record this season: Drew 2-2 v Dartford, Won 2-0 v Chippenham T. Braintree Scorers: Roberts & Crook - 3, Oliyide - 2, Shulton - 1. Suspended - Frimpong - 1 match. Last meeting: 22 April 2011 - Conference South: Hampton & Richmond 0-1 Braintree Town. Both sides lost their unbeaten records on Tuesday evening so will quickly want to get back on track. So far this season the Iron has featured in four games with a goals aggregate of 20 goals, whilst our visitors have scored and conceded 3 goals, having lost last season's top scorers to Pompey. Brad will be looking to see a much improved defensive performance whist maintaining the goal threat. He will have to change the starting XI with Frimpong suspended and Oliyide taking a knock on Tuesday; maybe a chance for Iron fans to see new signings Reece Grant and Alex Stephenson. I think we know we can score from various positions, but need to balance that with a more assured defensive performance. I don't expect us to maintain the 5 goal a game average in this match.
Iron score three again but lose
Defensive mistakes particularly in second half cost Iron the chance of returning from the Rookery with anything on Tuesday evening and which will also serve as a wake-up call for the younger players who will now realise this league is quite a physical one they need to quickly adapt.
After a fairly evenly contested first half with both sides playing fast, open football there's no question that the second half belonged to the hosts and their more experienced players who were quicker to the ball, more direct and found the Iron's Achilles heel.
The Iron defence struggle to cope with high balls to the far post and the Rocks quickly discovered this and subsequently scored three of their goals from that position as did Dartford against the Iron on Saturday.
Up front the Iron clearly still need a strong player who can hold the ball up, as the Rocks' experienced striker Sam Higgins did and who helped himself during the evening to two fine goals in the process.
The turning point of the game though came on 54 minutes when home keeper Ryan Sammons was forced off with a head injury leading to ex-Iron utility player Lee Burns donning the keeper's jersey.
Again perhaps the current lack of experience in the Iron side they failed to put any pressure on the stand-in keeper for the remainder of the game with just one long distant shot going into the side netting.
The home side took the lead on eight minutes when a lack of understanding in the Iron defence allowed Higgins to break through and round keeper Nathan McDonald to score.
On 16 minutes the Iron equalised with a well taken goal, thanks to an accurate through ball by Billy Crook allowing Phil Roberts to race through and lob the ball into the net.
The hosts though were quickly back in front three minutes later when Lewis Smith was left unmarked at the far post to head home a Reece Harris free-kick.
Five minutes later Crook hit the home bar and the ball scrambled clear but on 32 minutes he scored from the penalty spot after Karl Oliyide had been hauled down by George Allen who was booked for his troubles.
Right on half time McDonald pulled off a great save to deny Higgins who had again crept in at the post unmarked.
The second half though certainly belonged to the home side as the game lacked the earlier fluency after the change of keeper and Iron lost their way in midfield for the first time this season.
Higgins headed home unmarked at the far post on 71 minutes and then home substitute Femi Akinwande scored in the penalty box with a great first time shot from a direct right wing cross after the Iron's Ricky Gabriel had gifted the ball to Smith's feet.
It went from bad to worse for the Iron on 88 minutes when Montel Agyemang cut in from a left wing corner and unmarked fired home a 20 yard shot past McDonald.
Four minutes into the nine minutes of added time, because of the earlier home keeper injury, Iron substitute Dernell Wynter raced through to fire a low shot into the home net but by then it was no more than a consolation.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Gabriel (Wynter), Frimpong, Okoe (Wyatt); Schulton, Allen, Crook, Campbell, Roberts, Olyide (Barrington 46). Unused subs: Mugabo, Bettaghe. Attendance: 442.
Next up for the Iron is a home game on Saturday against Hampton and Richmond, kick off 3pm.
Striker and defender join club
Braintree Town have completed the paperwork for two more signings. Joining the Club are 22 year old striker Reece Grant from Heybridge Swifts and 20-year old defender Alex Stephenson from Billericay.
Reece Grant has caught the eye at Heybridge after scoring 26 goals last season and that after netting 19 goals during season 2015/16 for Hillingdon and Uxbridge.
Alex Stephenson started his career at Southend United before moving on to Canvey Island, Bishop's Stortford and Billericay Town.
Two sides with seven points from nine
Tues 15 August 2017 - East Thurrock U v Braintree T
In 2016/17 East Thurrock U finished 13th in the National League South. Their record last season was: Played 42, Won 14, Lost 14, Drew 14 (56 points). Goals For: 73, Goals Against: 65. Their home record 2016/17 was: Played 21, Won 7, Lost 5, Drew 9 (30 points). Goals For: 37, Goals Against 25. Top scorers: (2016/17): Tom Wraight (now Maidstone U) - 20, Sam Higgins & Reece Harris - 11. Last 4 home results: Drew 1-1 v Hampton & Richmond, Drew 1-1 v Wealdstone, Won 2-0 v Bath C, Lost 2-3 v Whitehawk. Scorers so far this season: Montel Agyemang - 3, Lewis Smith, Sam Higgins (pen), Ben Marlow & Reece Harris - 1
The current early season table shows Braintree T in 4th, East Thurock U in 5th. Braintree Scorers: Roberts, Crook & Oliyide - 2, Shulton - 1. Last meeting: 14 January 2017 - F. A. Trophy 2nd Round: East Thurrock U 2 Braintree T 5. On a very cold Saturday afternoon a Michael Cheek hat-trick and further goals from Midson & Barnard saw the Iron safely through to Round 3.
The Rocks had a somewhat indifferent home form last season, culminating in a lot of draws. Despite this they also managed three 5-1 victories against Gosport B, Truro C & Weston-Super-Mare. So far this season at home, they have only played Hampton & Richmond in yet another drawn game. Like the Iron, they all also unbeaten having won away 3-2 at Poole Town on Saturday. Brad's boys will be buoyed by their first three performances and the way they held firm with 10 men for virtually the whole of the second half against Chippenham. This match will see the first enforced change to the back four following Frimpong's red card. I expect a decent local following to roar the Iron home in a closer encounter than it was 7 months ago.
Dismissal changes game
Ten-man Braintree put up a tremendous backs-to-the-wall second half performance to maintain their two-goal first half advantage and collect all three points in a fiesty encounter at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium and remain unbeaten after their first three games.
Iron had controlled the first half with Karl Oliyide opening the scoring on 19 minutes with a well taken goal set up by the industrious Scott Shulton in midfield.
The home side kept up the pressure and on 31 minutes Phil Roberts was unlucky not to add his side's second when his first time volley came back off the crossbar with visiting keeper Jared Thompson well beaten.
Roberts was not to be denied though because he duly added the Iron's second on 44 minutes with an exceptional strike after a great passing move down the left wing by the Iron with final cross being met first time by the striker who drove the ball into the top of the goal net.
Just on half time Iron keeper Nathan McDonald, rarely troubled all afternoon, pulled off a great save to deny Matt Smith.
Three minutes into the restart though it all went wrong for Braintree when central defender Christian Frimpong was shown a second yellow card for a foul leaving Iron boss Brad Quinton to reorganise - forcing him to take off two key midfielders - Shulton and Luke Allen - for more defensive players.
Obviously the tactical changes made the Iron less dominant in midfield and allowed the visitors to come forward but full credit to the defence they held firm and never let the visitors have a clear shot at goal.
The manager's changes clearly worked because the home defence continued to frustrate the visitors every time they attacked causing few problems for keeper McDonald
Iron were also denied what looked to be a clear penalty on 71 minutes when substitute Mahrez Battache was hauled down in the area but the home players' appeals were ignored.
Quinton added: "I am pleased we won and collected all three points got and that we kept a clean sheet and full marks to the players for their second half efforts when we up against it.
"It does show how fit we are to stay in charge with only 10 men and I am disappointed with the sending off and we shall be talking that through with the team," he added. "Again we should have scored more goals in the first half and obviously the sending off did disrupt our game plan but I feel the substitutions were right and they did the trick."
Braintree Town: McDonald, Muleba, Gabriel, Frimpong, Okoye; Shulton (Mugabo 52), Allen (Wyatt 52), Crook, Campbell; Oliyide, (Barrington 80), Roberts. Unused subs: Wynter, Bettache. Attendance: 462.
Next up for the Iron is an away game at East Thurrock on Tuesday with a 7.45pm kick off.
Five-goal boys in town
Sat 12 August 2017 - Braintree T v Chippenham T
In 2016/17 Chippenham Town were Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Champions. Their record last season was: Played 46, Won 31, Lost 5, Drew 10 (103 points) Goals For: 94, Goals Against: 47 Their away record 2016/17 was: Played 23, Won 14, Lost 3, Drew 6 (48 points) Goals For: 57, Goals Against 32. Top scorers: (2016/17) Andy Sandell - 27, David Pratt - 22.
Chippenham opened their 2017/18 season with a 0-0 home draw against Havant & Waterlooville. Their first away game on Tuesday evening saw them beat Bath City 5-2 with goals from Matthew Smith, David Pratt, Andy Sandell (2-1 pen) and William Richards.
On the same evening the Iron played out a very entertaining 2-2 draw (having held a 2-0 half time lead) with Dartford, where Billy Crook's penalty made him the early season top scorer after opening his account with the winner at Eastbourne.
Sandell was the Southern League top scorer for two seasons running (2015/16 and 2016/17) having played previously in the Football League for Bristol R and Wycombe W and is one to watch out for. They also scored more goals on their travels last season than they managed at home averaging more than 2 goals a game. We could well be in for another goal fest at the Ironmongery Direct Stadium!
Kick-off is 3pm, admission is just £14 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for under 18s. And you can sit or stand wherever you like!
Braintree settle for a point
Iron had to settle for a draw in the end against their old Kent adversary from Dartford in a highly entertaining and lively encounter which turned out to the proverbial game of two halves.
The first half certainly belong to the Iron who dominated the game, scored two good goals and they could have had a couple of more before the interval while the second half belonged to the visitors who managed to haul themselves back in the game to earn a share of the points.
And but for a fantastic reactionary save from Iron 'keeper Nathan McDonald two minutes from the end it was the visitors who almost literally stole all three points which would have been an injustice over the 90 minutes.
Iron manager Brad Quinton though said he was really disappointed not to have won the game as it felt more of a loss than a draw and a point.
"We played well throughout and should have won it and I think we scored a perfectly good third goal early in the second half which in my view was wrongly ruled out for a foul," he declared. "We could than have gone three goals up and I think that would have made such a difference.
"But having said that we again gave away two sloppy goals in the second half which obviously put them on the front foot," he added. "We know what we have to work on now before our home game with Chippenham on Saturday and that is to take our chances and stop giving away silly goals."
Iron should have taken the lead on nine minutes when Phil Roberts burst through the visitors' defence only to see his low, hard shot come back off the legs off keeper Deren Ibrahim.
It wasn't long before they did break the deadlock and it came after the Iron had wasted three reasonable chances to have scored.
On 35 minutes in a sweeping move up field it led to Karl Oliyide firing home finally beating Ibrahim but in reply the visitors almost scored themselves in a goalmouth scramble at the other but the ball was finally kicked clear.
Two minutes from the interval the dominant Iron had their expected second goal and it came from the penalty spot after Elliott Bradbrook handled a fierce Iron shot in the area leaving Bill Crook to calmly slot home the spot kick.
Five minutes after the restart it looked as if Christian Frimpong had scored his first goal for the club when he headed in a left wing cross but referee Josh Smith deemed he had pushed the defender en route.
A third goal then would have given the Iron breathing space and soon afterwards twice Olyide broke clear down the right only to drive the ball into the side netting when it looked easier to score.
The visitors, reorganised with a couple of substitution which gave them fresh impetus in midfield, to their credit hit back and on 65 minutes they pulled a goal back through Tom Murphy due to some slack marking at the far post by Iron defenders.
They pressurised the Iron for a spell and ten minutes later they equalised, again through sloppy defending across the box by the Iron defence, allowing Bradbrook to make amends for giving away the penalty as he drove the ball home from close range.
It was all end to end play with both sides going for that winning goal and also providing good entertainment for the 530 crowd but both sides had to settle for a draw which was an overall fair outcome of the match.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Gabriel, Frimpomg, Okoye; Schulton, Allen (Mugabo 87), Crook, Wyatt (Campbell 78); Roberts (Wynter 84), Olyide. Unused subs: Obamwonyi, Bettache.
Next up for the Iron is a visit from newly promoted Chippenham Town on Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Iron welcome pre-season favourites
Tues 8 August 2017 - Braintree T v Dartford
In 2016/17 Dartford finished 3rd in the Vanarama South Division on 84 points. They lost in the play-off semi-finals 2-1 on aggregate to Chelmsford.
Their away record last season was: Played 21, Won 9, Lost 6, Drew 6 (33 points) Goals For: 34, Goals Against: 34. Last 4 away games: Won 2-3 v Poole T, Lost 2-0 v Hungerford T, Drew 2-2 v Hemel Hempstead T, Lost 1-0 v St Albans C. Top scorers: Elliot Bradbrook - 16, Andy Pugh - 14, Luke Wanadio (now at Bromley) - 11
Last meeting at Cressing Road: 1 January 2015 National League: Braintree T 3 Dartford 0, with goals from Isaac, Akinola and Sparkes late in the second half gave the Iron all three points.
The Darts started their 2017/18 campaign with a home 0-0 draw against Hungerford T, whilst the Iron came back from 2 down to triumph 3-2 at Eastbourne Borough.
Our visitors are one of the favourites with the bookies to win the National League South this season, so it will be a good test for Brad's new look team. It was good to see goals coming from midfield in our opening fixture, but we need to cut out the costly defensive mistakes that gave Borough a two goal start. Although the Darts won more than they lost on their travels last season, they did take several heavy beatings amongst those six defeats. I think we can expect more goals in a close encounter.
resilience from going 2-0 down
Braintree Town came back from a two-goal deficit to put in a sparkling second half performance to win and claimed all three points in their season opener at Priory Lane on Saturday.
It was just the kind of performance new manager Brad Quinton had demanded from his all-new Iron side and he was particularly pleased with their attitude and commitment having gone two goals down within a three minute spell midway through the first half.
"We started well, created chances early on but were then caught out by individual errors leading to two quick goals against the run of play but crucially we pulled one back before the interval and again we had a couple of decent chances to have come in on level terms," he explained. "The players responded magnificently in the second half, kept to our game plan and I knew we could go on and win.
"In reality we should have won by a bigger margin because we dominated play and had several chances to have scored more in the last 20 minutes," he added. "But I am satisfied with a win away from home in our first game and it gives all the players that bit extra confidence."
He added: "Our work rate and cohesion throughout the side was good too."
Against the run of play the Iron went behind on 19 minutes when a wayward back pass from Phil Roberts fell straight to the feet of Yemi Odubade who strolled through to beat 'keeper Nathan McDonald.
Three minutes later it went from bad to worse for the Iron when from another through ball into their area it led to a defensive mix-up allowing Nathan Pinney to turn and chip the ball into the net.
Needing to retrieve a goal back before the interval it came on 29 minutes when the hard working Scott Shulton broke well from midfield and fired home a low 25 yard shot past home 'keeper Bailey Vose into the bottom right corner.
Iron kept up the pressure and eight minutes later Vose somehow saved a great shot from Karl Oliyide forcing the ball on to the bar and over.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart Iron's cause for an equaliser was helped by second yellow card for home defender Kiran Khinda-John for hauling down Oliyide en route to goal.
With a minute the Iron scored their equaliser courtesy of a lob shot from Roberts as he made amends for giving the home side their first goal.
Iron kept up the pressure and Roberts, Oliyide and Luke Allen were constantly causing all kinds of problems for the home side back line with their pace and tenacity on the ball.
The expected third Iron goal came on 54 minutes thanks to a near post effort from Billy Crook following yet another excellent save by Vose.
Once in the lead and with the man advantage the Iron continued to dominate play and they created five or six decent goal scoring chances before the final whistle which would have given a bigger scoreline which over the 90 minutes they deserved.
The only dent in the Iron's win was a bad facial injury to Allen who was forced off and may be doubtful for the side's next match at home to Dartford on Tuesday evening (kick off 7.45pm).
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Frimpong, Okoye, Gabriel; Allen (Craddock 66), Shulton, Crook, Wyatt (Campbell 72); Oliyide, Roberts (Wynter 74). Unused subs: Mugabo, Bettache. Attendance 598. Referee: David Spain.
I taught Joe Hart everything ...
We get the season underway with a chat with the Gaffer - Brad Quinton
DOB: 7/9/78 (38) Born: Mile End, London Previous Clubs: Tottenham H, Romford, Aveley, Bishops Stortford, Braintree T & Enfield
Q. what is your full time job?
A. Colour Manager for Rhapsody Media
Q. Who do you support?
A. Tottenham H
Q. Who is your all-time favourite player?
A. Paul Gascoigne
Q. How do you relax away from the game?
A. Time with family, watching TV
Q. Who is your favourite singer/band?
A. Phil Collins
Q. What was the last gig you attended?
A. Elton John
Q. What is your favourite TV programme?
A. Only Fools & Horses
Q. How easy/difficult a decision was it to come back here as the manager?
A. I had been approached, but needed to see what happened with Enfield in the play-offs. The Board got me at their second attempt.
Q. You hold the club appearance record, what are your best memories of those games; do any particular moments stick out?
A. Scoring against Joe Hart when he was at Shrewsbury Town. The next day he made his move to Manchester City.
Q. What are you looking for from this season?
A. Looking to give it a go, give the fans justice after last season. See where we are at Christmas.
Q. This is the second successive season the club has had to rebuild, how will it help having the lads in from Enfield?
A. I did a similar job last season at Enfield, all the lads I've brought in here, I brought in to Enfield. They're all hungry players who want to progress.
Q. How would you describe your management style?
A. Enjoy your football.
Q. What style/formation of football do you like to play?
A. I like a fluid formation that allows us to change at a given signal. I always look to play a passing game.
Q. Are there any players from last season who you would like to have kept?
A. They were all given the option to talk to me, some had wanted more money, but that would have took us over budget.
Q. Are there fines for the players?
A. Yes, including things like lateness, being overweight, not wearing flip-flops.
Q. Who have been the best manager/coach you have worked with?
A. George Borg and Graham Roberts
Q. When you were a player, which manager gave you the biggest rollicking?
A. Several. I remember Graham Roberts making me sit with him in the stand during a 4 match suspension. He'd send me down to the touch line with some instructions and as soon as I got back to my seat, he'd send me off again with more instructions. I learned I was no use if I was not playing!
Q. Which teams in this league do you see challenging for promotion?
A. I think it's an open League and wouldn't single out any particular team.
Q. You're fairly new to management, at what level do you think you can manage?
A. I'd like to manage full time and then see where it goes from there.
Q. You have you appointed Mark Okoye as captain, what do you expect from him?
A. Hard work, leadership and commitment.
Q. Name your all-time best Braintree XI from those you have played with.
A. (4-3-3 formation) GK - Nathan McDonald, RB - John Muleba, LB - Ashley Cole, CB - Russell Edwards & Rio Ferdinand. Midfield - Brad Quinton, Andy Porter and Billy Crook, Strikers - Britt Assombalonga, Alex Revell & Carl Griffiths.
Iron lads ready for the challenge ahead
Sat 5 August 2017 - Eastbourne B v Braintree T
In 2016/17 Eastbourne finished 11th in the NL South Division on 58 points. Their home record was: Played 21, Won 12, Lost 5, Drew 4 (40 points). Goals For: 51, Goals Against: 30. Last 4 home games: Won 3-2 v St Albans C, Won 4-0 v E Thurrock U, Won 5-1 v Wealdstone, Won 7-3 v Welling. Top scorers: Nathaniel Pinney - 25, Elliott Romain (joined Dag & Red in March 2017) - 19.
Braintree Town finished in 22nd place in the NL top flight on 48 points. Home Record: Played 23, Won 7, Lost 12, Drew 4 (27 points). Goals For: 23, Goals Against: 33. Last 4 home games: Lost 0-2 v Barrow, Won 2-0 v Guiseley, Lost 1-2 v Dover A, Lost 1-2 v Woking. Top scorers: Michael Cheek - 25, Lee Barnard - 6, Jack Midson, Reece Hall-Johnson - 5
Last meeting: 5 November 2016 - FA Cup 2nd Round: Braintree T 7 Eastbourne B 0. Goals from Patterson, Elokobi (2), Muldoon, Bernard (pen), Akinola & Lee. Arguably the game of the season for many Iron fans as we struggled to win at home in the National League top flight. Braintree served up a cracker with three of the goal scorers being loanees.
This season we go again with another re-built squad. BQ has put together a squad assembled around several players from his previous club - Enfield. Hopefully this will see the lads gel together quickly. The Sports too are under new management with Jamie Howell stepping into the breach from Bognor Regis. Howell's first signing was Torres - no not Fernando but Sergio Torres formerly of Wycombe W, Peterborough U & Crawley amongst others. Eastbourne had a good home record last season, scoring 19 in their last 4 games at Priory Lane. The new Iron defence will have to keep the strings tight on Pinney to secure an unbeaten start.
Boys ready for the challenge ahead
Brad Quinton's new look Braintree Town squad got together for the annual pre-season squad shot on Thursday evening. The showers kept away and the clouds parted! Pictured above are:
Back Row: Karl Oliyide, Alfred Mugabo, Osa Obamwonyi, Harry Aldridge, Nathan McDonald, Sam Souter, Marc Okoye, Luke Allen, Ricky Gabriel.
Middle Row: Barry Bolton (Coach), Barry Sewell (Goalkeeping Coach), Phil Roberts, Ben Wyatt, Scott Shulton, Jon Muleba, Connor Bolton, Dernell Wynter, Samir Bihmoutine, Christian Frimpong, George Craddock, Errol Hassan (Coach), Jacque Edouard (Coach).
Front Row: Luke Mallett, Tyler Campbell, Roman Michael-Percil, Tyler Overton (Physio), Brad Quinton (Manager), Andy Porter (Assistant Manager), Billy Crook, Matt Baxter, Mahrez Bettache. Photo: Paul Tebbutt.
Reading XI beaten
Iron wrapped up their pre-season friendlies with an impressive victory over a workmanlike young Royals side at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium on Saturday, writes David Ward.
The winning margin would have been greater but for several heroic saves by visiting keeper George Legg while Iron fans in the 140 crowd would have been impressed by the way their new-look side created opportunities, played their passing game and were far more entertaining to watch than at any time last season.
The Iron were in command for most of the game forcing Legg to make a point-blank save on 35 minutes from a close range effort by Marc-Anthony Okoye and two minutes later he denied Karl Oliyide with an outstanding save with his legs.
Close to the interval Legg again proved to be the stumbling block tipping over a fierce first time shot by Ipswich loanee Shane McLoughlin.
Four minutes after the restart the Iron finally made the breakthrough when Phil Roberts headed on a long Nathan McDonald goal kick to the ever alert McLoughlin who drilled the ball low past Legg.
Five minutes later the Ipswich youngster almost added a second but he was again denied by Legg.
Earlier McDonald had twice pulled off two fine saves to deny Teddy Howe and Ben House but once the deadlock was broken it gave the Iron players more confidence in pushing forward for that crucial second goal to give them some breathing space.
It didn't come until eight minutes from the end when Iron substitute Samir Bihmoutine was hauled down in the area by Howe and up stepped Billy Crook to fire the resultant spot kick home.
It also gave a better reflection of play over the 90 minutes in which the Iron without doubt played their best football of pre-season and gives the new side confidence ahead of next Saturday's opening National League South game at Eastbourne Borough.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Gabriel, Frimpong, Okoye; Mugabe (55 Maybanks), Craddock, Cook, Olyide, (75 Bihmoutine); Roberts (79 Wyatt), McLaughlin (55 Wynter). Unused subs: Shulton, Baxter, Obamwonyi. Referee: Carl Pearce.
Clean sheet in the rain
Braintree Town called upon a number of unfamiliar faces at Lowestoft on Friday evening, writes Jon Weaver.
With the squad entertaining Reading the next day, there were only five players on show who had featured regularly in the earlier friendlies. Connor Bolton, Joe Robinson (Captain) and Mahrez Bettache were the only players to complete a full 90 minutes, while Matt Baxter and Ben Wyatt both completed a half. There were five reserves on show, with Harry Aldridge, Harry Seal, Ethan Evison, Aaron Dyson and Charlie Webb all playing in the second half. From the Under 21's Sam Souter and James Dicker both started the game, as did Mase Wade who had scored against Maldon & Tiptree in last season's Essex Senior Cup tie, the day before his 17th birthday.
Lowestoft included their new signing Dean Leacock, who had played in the Premier League with Derby County. The highly rated Travis Cole was at 4 and Harvey Hodd, who played for Braintree last season in friendlies at Bury Town, Heybridge and Stanway was at 10.
Lowestoft were first out of the blocks, and enjoyed plenty of possession but were finding it had to get past an Iron backline in which Osa Obamwonyi was outstanding. Clear cut chances for either side were few and far between although the game was opening out to be a most absorbing match.
Multiple substitions were made at the second half, with eight changes to the Braintree side. Charlie Webb and Harry Seal took over as the central defensive pairing, with Robinson moving to right back. They both played really well and as the game wore on and weather conditions worsened Iron began to look the better side. Late in the game both Alfie Cervulli and Ethan Evison came close for the away side but the final whistle blew with no goals scored.
General opinion among the home supporters seemed to be that they had thoroughly enjoyed the match, and the young Braintree players had acquitted themselves very well.
FIRST HALF TEAM: 31. Sam Souter, 2. Martin Frimpong, 3. Connor Bolton, 4. Osa Obamwonyi, 5. Joe Robinson, 6. Jamie Dicker, 7. Jacob Lay, 8. Matt Baxter, 9. Mase Wade, 10. Harry Adil, 11. Mahrez Bettache.
SECOND HALF SUBS: 21. Harry Aldridge, Ben Wyatt - no number, 14. Harry Seal, 15. Alfie Cervulli, 16. Jack Lelliott, 17. Ethan Evison, Aaron Dyson - no number, Charlie Webb - no number. Attendance: 194
Ben Wyatt grabs Iron consolation
Tuesday evening's third home pre-season friendly against Football League opposition saw another encouraging display by Iron who took on a youthful Barnet side at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium that included former Braintree favourite Sim Akinola.
Although the visitors, clearer fitter from full-time training and with some experienced players in their squad won 3-1, watching Iron fans in the 160 crowd would again have been encouraged by the way their side continued to play a passing game right up until the final whistle with just that final ball letting them down.
Iron gave a debut to on-loan 18 year-old striker Shane McLoughlin from Ipswich and he had an impressive game and twice almost put his name on the scoresheet while, at the other end, keeper Nanthan McDonald again pulled off some fine saves as he did against Colchester United on Saturday to keep his side in the game at times.
The visitors took the lead on 20 minutes when sloppy passing in the Iron defence allowed Nana Keyi to drive the ball home past McDonald and four minutes from the interval Barnet triallist Jordan Lussey scored from outside the area with McDonald unsighted.
Five minutes after the restart the visitors grabbed a third goal through Mauro Vilhete but to their credit the Iron increased their tempo and put renewed pressure on the visitors goal causing keeper Craig Ross to pull off three fine saves.
With several second half substitutes on both sides the game lost a little of its rythym but towards the end it was the Iron who looked the more likely side to score.
Their efforts were rewarded in the final minute when substitute Ben Wyatts finally beat keeper Ross with a glancing header.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Okoye, Frimpong, Gabriel; Baxter, Shulton, Crook, Roberts; McLoughlin, Wynter. Second half substitutes were Robinson, Wyatt, Craddock, Theobalds, Bihmoutine, Bolton/
Next up for Iron is away to Lowestoft Town on Friday evening, 28th July, kick off 7.45pm, followed by a home game against a Reading XI on Saturday, 29th July, with kick off 3pm.
Keeper McDonald impresses
It's still a case of work in progress for the Iron as they battled hard but ultimately lost out against a full Football League squad from their near neighbours at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium on Saturday, writes David Ward.
Although not quite reaching the high playing level as they did in their previous home friendly against Southend United at least the all-new look Iron side are playing some attractive football, keeping the ball on the ground with short passing and creating goal scoring opportunities.
Clearly still needing more cutting edge though in attack and perhaps also one more experienced defender to put together a more consolidated unit, Iron in the end were beaten by a clearly fitter and quicker full-time team.
Ironically the player who caused most of the problems for the home side was Sammie Szmodics, who had a successful loan spell at Braintree the season before last, his pace and perception showed why he is being watched by bigger clubs.
He latched on to a home defence mistake on 26 minutes to lift the ball over Iron 'keeper Nathan McDonald into the net for the opener and practically repeated the process on 62 minutes nipping on to a sloppy pass between two Iron players to beat McDonald again.
In fact two superb saves in either half from McDonald prevented the visitors from returning up the A120 with a bigger winning margin.
On 19 minutes he pulled off a great save to deny Denny Johnstone and against shortly before the break stopped Lewis Kinsella from scoring.
At times the Iron showed Iron fans in the 619 crowd what good build up play they can produce but unfortunately despite creating half chances they lack a potent striker to finish off all the good approach work while free-kicks outside the visitors' area were all too often wasted.
With both sides each making obviously several second half substitutes as the match progressed the flow of the game was interrupted but full credit to the Iron players they stuck doggedly to their task and but for some poor final balls into those danger areas they could have found the net.
The visitors confidently wrapped up the game on 82 minutes when U's substitute Louis Dunne slipped through the Iron defence to score his side's third goal with a low, hard shot past McDonald.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Okoya, Frimpong, Gabriel; Shulton, Craddock, Wyatt, Crook; Wynter, Ottaway.
Iron substitutes all used in the second half: Robinson, Allen, Bettache, Roberts, Baxter, Theobalds.
Next up for the Iron is at home on Tuesday when another Football League side Barnet are the visitors, kick off 7.45pm.
Happy hour in the Clubhouse from 1-2
Iron continue their pre-season build-up with another prestigious friendly against Football League neighbours Colchester United this coming Saturday, 22nd July, with kick-off at 3pm. The Weston Homes Community Stadium club just missed out on the play-off places for promotion to League One last season, finishing a point off seventh-placed Blackpool - who won the play-off final at Wembley.
The U's have had a busy summer so far. They have signed defender Cole Kpekawa from Championship-side Barnsley, former Watford goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin and Ryan Jackson from Gillingham. They have also promoted trio Charley Edge, Diaz Wright and Decarrey Sheriff from the Club's under 23 squad. Early indications are encouraging with The U's beating a West Ham United side 2-0 on Tuesday. That was their fourth successive win after victories at Maldon & Tiptree (2-0), Needham Market (4-0) and Llandudno (1-0).
Admission prices for Saturday's match have been reduced to just £10 for adults and £5 for OAPs and under 18s. The Clubhouse will open to all from 1pm and we'll be offering selected beers at 'happy hour' prices from 1 'til 2 before the game.
Pre-season continues with plenty of game time
Braintree Town made the trip into Suffolk on Tuesday night to play Bostik League side Bury Town, and lost there for the second successive season.
Brad Quinton used more players than he has done in any of the previous three games, and 22 of them got game time. The outcome was that play was more disjointed than in the previous matches.
Iron started brightly, dominating possession but with very little to show for their efforts. Bury soon settled in to the game. Iron's first chance came in the 28th minute. Bury's goalkeeper was dispossessed outside the penalty area by Karl Okiyide. He pulled the ball back to Phil Roberts but his shot was tame and gathered easily. Six minutes later Matt Baxter had the ball in the net after being slipped through by George Craddock but the linesman judged him to be offside.
A second meaty challenge by Baxter saw him booked by the referee Ollie Morris-Sanders, a former Braintree goalkeeper. In the melee that followed Liam Enver-Marum, a 30th minute substitute for Oliyide, was booked along with a home protagonist.
Multiple changes were made at the start of the second half. On the hour mark Samir Bihmoutine slipped an inviting ball across the goal. Enver-Marum missed it but it was met by Joe Gardner flying in at the far post, and he struck the ball up on to the crossbar. Gardner had previously made 6 sub appearances for Braintree in the Danny Cowley era.
The home side were starting to create the better chances and went ahead in the 71st minute. Their long throws had been causing problems all evening. From one of them the ball looped to Ollie Canfer who was unchallenged as he softly back-headed over McDonald and in to the net.
There was no further scoring although Ricky Gabriel was also booked. Bury also had three players yellow-carded in a competitive fixture that would have been of more benefit to the home team than the away one.
TEAM: 33. Nathan McDonald, 2. Jon Muleba (SUB: Joe Maybanks - no number), 11. Ben Wyatt (15. Samir Bihmoutine), 5. Joe Robinson, 6. Osa Obamwonyi (Ricky Gabriel - no number), also 6. George Craddock (10. Desean), 7. Mahrez Bettache (12. Joe Gardner), 8. Matt Baxter (Billy Crook - no number), 4. Xavier Vidal (14. Luke Allen) (6. Connor Bolton), 3. Karl Oliyide (16. Liam Enver-Marum) (8. Nigel Neita), 17. Phil Roberts (9. Luke Mallett). Attendance: 171.
Braintree continue to flourish
Braintree Town returned to the IronmongeryDirect Stadium on an overcast afternoon and faced a strong Southend United side, writes Jon Weaver. The Skybet League One team included new signings Michael Turner and Stephen Hendrie with Michael Kightley on the bench. Nine of Braintree's starting XI were making home debuts.
Iron's first clear chance fell to Karl Oliyide who found himself well clear of Southend's backline but rolled the ball agonisingly wide of Mark Oxley's far post. The miss proved costly as a minute later the visitors were ahead when Simon Cox headed past Nathan McDonald.
Despite trailing, Iron were looking impressive and were creating the better chances. On 36 minutes Oliyide crossed low from the right wing. It was met by Roman Michael-Percil, who blasted over the bar from 12 yards out. Iron equalised four minutes later when Oliyide rose to meet Ben Wyatt's left wing cross and out-jumped former West Ham centre half Anton Ferdinand to powerfully head home his third goal of the pre-season campaign.
Braintree were not level for long. Mark Antoine Fortune fired low into the goal from 20 yards out in the 44th minute of the half to re-establish the Shrimpers lead.
Both teams made multiple changes in the second half. The main talking point came on the hour mark when Southend's Michael Timlin took exception to a challenge from Scott Shulton and was shown the red card for his part in the ensuing incident, which sparked a confrontation. When order had been restored Shulton was shown a yellow card and tactically withdrawn from the action by Brad Quinton.
Iron had further chances to get back into the game. Jon Muleba's pin point cross was mis-hit by the oncoming Dernell Wynter, who diverted the ball wide. Harry Ottaway created an opportunity for Wynter who went around the visiting keeper but failed to divert the ball the right side of the post. Several long range efforts by Matt Baxter went close, and the same player did have the ball in the next although he was clearly offside.
At the other end McDonald pulled off a couple of finger tip saves late on to keep the final score at Braintree Town 1 Southend United 2.
Iron Team: 33. Nathan McDonald, 2. Jon Muleba, 3. Ricky Gabriel (16. Connor Bolton), 4. Marc Okeye (17. Joe Robinson), 5. Christian Frimpong (19. Nigel Neita), 6. Scott Shulton (15. Mahrez Bettache), 7. Luke Allen (14. George Craddock), 8. Billy Crook (21. Phil Roberts), 9. Roman Michael-Percil (12. Dernell Wynter), 10. Karl Oliyide (Harry Ottaway - no number), 11. Ben Wyatt (Matt Baxter - no number).
Cracking football and cheap beer!
Braintree Town welcome Southend United to the IronmongeryDirect Stadium on Saturday for a first home pre-season friendly. It will give the Iron fans an opportunity to take a look at the progress new manager Brad Quinton is making with his squad. The game kicks off at 3pm on Saturday and admission prices have been reduced to just £10 for adults and £5 for OAPs and under 18s. Chairman Lee Harding was quick to accept the importance of the fixture: "We always enjoy competitive matches with our friends from Southend and I'd like to think we both benefit from them. Brad has already stamped his authority on how he wants to see his side play the game and we've seen some encouraging early signs in the games at Long Melford and Newmarket - not to mention eleven goals! Just as importantly, attractive games against local Football League opposition will help with the Club's income. Although we do not budget for pre-season games, any windfalls from these games will go straight towards Brad's playing resources and his squad-building ambitions, so I'd encourage our supporters to come along on Saturday and have a look at the how we're doing. We've reduced admission prices, the t-bar will be open and we'll be offering selected beers at 'happy hour' prices from 1 'til 2 before the game. Let's hope the weather is kind to us!"
Iron impress in the rain
Iron enjoyed a good workout in the rain on Newmarket Town's new cork-based 3G pitch on Tuesday night, adding some cracking long range goals to the six they had scored at Long Melford, writes Jon Weaver.
There were plenty of changes to Saturday's line-up, with only Scott Shulton and Joe Robinson starting both games.
Iron quickly got into their stride and right back Luke Mallett advanced into the penalty area before unleasing a shot that hit the base of the post. Soon after Dernell Wynter let fly from outside the box and found the top left corner to put Braintree 1-0 up. On 25 minutes George Craddock shot high into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty area, and then the Newmarket keeper made a blinding point blank save from Mallett. Having dominated the game and played some really good football, Iron led 2-0 at the break.
For a while after the restart Newmarket came more in to the game but it was Braintree that scored the crucial third goal, and it was the best of the night. Matt Baxter struck sweetly from 25 yards into the top left corner. The visitors weren't finished. Michael Campbell was upended after weaving his way into the penalty area, and Scott Shulton converted the resulting penalty (pictured). Late in the game Enver-Marum laid the ball on for Campbell to convert the fifth.
Team: 33 Ben McNamara (SUB: 21 Aiden Prall), 8. Luke Mallett, 15. Ricky Gabriel, 6. Joe Robinson, 5. Marc-Anthony Okeye, 7. Xavier Vidal (16. Matt Baxter), 17. Scott Shulton, 4. George Craddock (7. Vidal - returning to the field late on), 9. Dernell Winter (14. Michael Campbell), 12. George Sykes (Liam Enver-Marum), 11. Phil Roberts (Luke Allen). Late substitute - Brian, surname unknown. Attendance: 92
Vice President passes away
Braintree Town Football Club are saddened to announce the passing of its Vice President Mr Michael Doyle on Saturday morning. Chairman Lee Harding said: "A regular in the Iron clubhouse for many years, Michael was a jovial character who always managed to put a smile on the face of those he met and spent time with. His humour was infectious and he was a well respected member of our Club. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. As a mark of respect, a minutes' silence will be observed prior to Saturday's match at home to Southend United."
Six without reply at Long Melford
An all-new look Iron side comfortably won their opening pre-season match at Stoneylands on Saturday. It left new manager Brad Quinton well satisfied with their first out but he knows tougher friendlies against stronger opposition are coming up.
With all new players both in the starting line-up and on the substitutes' bench he was looking for some early signs of teamwork and cohesion and in reality they did by dominating the 90 minutes against their Thurlow Nunn Premier Division hosts.
Former Hendon and Enfield striker 21 year-old Karl Oliyide gave his new team a two-goal lead at the interval in what was a competitive first half but the Iron stepped up a gear in the second half to easily overcome their hosts and also the extreme heat of the afternoon.
Former Swindon youth central defender Christian Frimpong, 18, added a third early in the second half with a superb header and shortly afterwards Burundi-born right-back Jonathan Muleba, 22, who was with Quinton at Enfield last season, moved up the right wing to score the fourth goal with a blistering shot.
Second half substitute Dernell Wynter grabbed two goals late on, including a 25-yard shot into the top corner of the net, as the Iron ran out easy winners.
With only former Iron goalkeeper Nathan McDonald the only player known to watching Iron fans - he was made captain for the day - all the other players on show were making their club debuts and all the substitutions were made in the second half.
Braintree Town: McDonald (sub Witham); Muleba, Frimpone, Shulton (Baxter), Wyatt; Robinson, Allen (Gabriel), Bettache, Crook (Seal); Oliyide (Ottoway), Michel-Percil (Wynter). Attendance: 207.
Next up for Iron is a second pre-season match at Newmarket Town this coming Tuesday evening, 11th July, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Date switch and new fixture
Braintree Town have agreed an additional new pre-season fixture and also switched the date of the trip to Lowestoft Town. The game at Lowestoft Town has now been brought forward 24 hours and Iron will now visit the Crown Meadow Ground on Friday, 28th July, with kick-off at 7.45pm. The following day, Saturday, 29th July, Braintree Town will now entertain a Reading XI, with kick-off at 3pm.
See all the fixtures here!
The fixtures for the forthcoming 2017/2018 season are out!
Braintree Town will start their Vanarama National League South campaign on Saturday, 5th August, with a trip to Sussex to visit Eastbourne Borough and their 3G pitch. The two sides met in last season's FA Cup at the First Round stage, with Iron progressing through to a Second Round trip to Millwall.
The Club's first home match is the following Tuesday, 8th August, when the bookmaker's pre-season favourites Dartford are the visitors to the IronmongeryDirect Stadium, with this match followed four days later by the visit of Chippenham Town on Saturday, 12th August.
Bank Holiday matches see Braintree Town entertain St. Albans City on August Bank Holiday Monday, 28th August, with the return at Clarence Park on East Monday, 2nd April. Boxing Day sees Iron welcome Chelmsford City, with the return at Melbourne Park on New Year's Day.
Our longest journey sees us travel to Cornwall to visit Truro City on the penultimate Saturday of the season, 21st April and we finish the season at home to Gloucester City.
Iron will start their FA Cup campaign at the Second Qualifying Round stage on Saturday, 16th September and will join the FA Trophy competition at the Third Qualifying Round stage on Saturday, 25th November.
The opening day's Vanarama National League South fixtures are as follows:
Bognor Regis Town v. Bath City
Chelmsford City v. Gloucester City
Chippenham Town v. Havant & Waterlooville
Dartford v. Hungerford Town
East Thurrock United v. Hampton & Richmond Borough
Eastbourne Borough v. BRAINTREE TOWN
Hemel Hempstead Town v. Whitehawk
Oxford City v. St. Albans City
Truro City v. Welling United
Wealdstone v. Concord Rangers
Weston-Super-Mare v. Poole Town
For a full list of the season's fixtures click on the Games link above.
Brad adds defender, midfield and forward
Iron Manager Brad Quinton has continued his squad-building with the addition of three more players to his squad for the forthcoming Vanarama National League South campaign. Joining the Club are defender Ricky Gabriel, striker Nigel Neita and midfielder Connor Bolton from Brad's previous club Enfield Town.
26-year old Ricky Gabriel was part of Brad's side that lost the Ryman League play-off semi-final at Dulwich Hamlet last May, making a total of 43 appearances and scored seven goals for the North London club. He joined Enfield from local Spartan South Midlands League side Brimsdown in early 2015 and had a spell at Dover Athletic after playing in the USL Pro League for Antigua Barracuda FC.
Nigel Neita started his career at Arsenal and signed a professional contract in 2011. During his two years with the North London club he was called up for Jamaica's friendly against Costa Rica in March 2012. After leaving Arsenal, he moved on to Dulwich Hamlet in 2013 and then Met. Police a year later. Now 23, he was also at Enfield Town with Brad last season and made 18 appearances, scoring twice.
Connor Bolton is 22 and at home on the left side of midfield. Another with Brad at Enfield last season, Connor also spent time at Hadley and Ware last season. Part of the Enfield Under-21 side that won the Middlesex Premier Cup in 2015.
Second XI back at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium
Braintree Town Football Club have arranged for their reserve side to play their Thurlow-Nunn League Division One matches at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium next season.
Reserve management Lee Fisher and Luke Nash said: "We feel like we are back where we belong this coming 2017-18 season."
"The success of the extensive drainage work carried out on the pitch this time last year, has allowed the Reserves to return after a successful 2016-17 season playing out of Long Melford FC - who we thank for their support in recent years."
"News of the young Iron Res's returning to the IronmongeryDirect Stadium for 2017-18 will hopefully be taken with much joy from the fans and supporters. Creating a buzz every week that 234 supporters achieved on the last home game is our aim."
"The Reserve management has an open canvas to create something special at Braintree. Working closely with Brad, the 1st Team management and players; we will be able to attract, develop and utilise all avenues and facilities at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium."
"One of the great qualities from the committed Reserve management is the ability to nurture a close-knit environment which allows all players to gain confidence and generate their best performance. Delivering success will be a by product of this."
"Chairman Lee Harding and the Board are fully supportive of the return and working closely with the youth."
"Attracting local sponsorship during preseason is something we wish to generate contact Club Sales & Marketing Director Mark Sansom via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org."
"We hope we can make it a success and enjoy the return to the IronmongeryDirect Stadium. Pre season starts on 22nd June with the season kicking off on 5th August."
Striker and attacking midfielder sign
Iron boss Brad Quinton has added a further two signings to his squad for the forthcoming Vanarama National League South campaign.
Rejoining the club is 29-year old striker Liam Enver-Marum who played eighteen games for the club during our successful 2013-14 season when we finished sixth. Liam started his career at Cambridge United before moving on to Crawley, Ebbsfleet and Stevenage. After leaving Braintree, he enjoyed spells at Bishop's Stortford, Basingstoke Town and, last season, Maidstone United and Hemel Hempstead.
Also joining the Club is 26-year old Billy Crook. A goal-scoring midfielder, Billy scored 17 goals and provided 17 assists last year for Brad Quinton at Enfield and finished the season as the players' player of the season, supporters player of the season, manager's player of the season and golden boot award winner! Billy started his career as a youngster at Crystal Palace before being given a professional contract at Peterborough. He then moved on to the Glen Hoddle academy in Spain, before returning to the UK and playing for Met Police, Dulwich Hamlet and Enfield.
Brad signs George Sykes
Brad Quinton has continued his pre-season build-up with the addition of a 6'4" striker to the Iron squad.
22-year old George Sykes joined the Barnet youth team as an under-16 and was top scorer in the English U-18 youth system in the 2011-12 season with 24 goals. He made his senior debut at the age of 17 against Bristol Rovers in August 2012 and signed his first professional contract with the Bees in November 2012. He won the League Two Apprentice of the Year award at the Football League Awards in March 2013. During his three years with Barnet, Sykes had various loan spells before joining Dartford for the 2015-2016 making 25 appearances. After a 2nd short loan spell at Canvey Island, George made the move permanent, joining the Ryman Premier side for the 2016-2017 season where he scored 21 goals in a difficult season for the club as they were relegated. George swept the board at the clubs end of season presentation evening winning Manager's Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and the Supporters' Player of the Year awards.
Iron squad taking shape
Braintree Town manager Brad Quinton has continued his busy squad-building with the addition of three players to the Iron squad for the forthcoming season.
Joining the club is 22 year old attacking midfielder Xavier Vidal. Vidal was on the verge of breaking into the professional game while at Dulwich Hamlet, spending time on trial with Birmingham, Bolton, Brentford and Oxford. After failing to secure a deal in the Football League, he moved up to then National League Welling United. He made 28 appearances in all competitions for the Wings, scoring four times He also had a loan spell at National League South side Hemel Hempstead and most recently he has played Merstham.
The Club are also pleased to announce the signing of 22 year old winger Roman Michael-Percil. Roman has previously played for Tottenham Hotspur, Billericay, Dulwich Hamlet and most recently Metropolitan Police and chipped in with 9 goals last season.
The third signing is the highly-rated Jonathan Muleba. The 21-year old defender joined Chelsea at Under-14 level and made his Under-18 debut as a 15-year old during the 2011-12 season. He became a regular in the Under-18s' defence in his first year as a scholar in 2012-13. His displays earned him late-season recognition at Under-21 level, where he made his first appearance in April 2013. An Under-18 ever-present right up until the last game before Christmas in 2013-14, his impressive performances secured him the offer of a professional contract at Chelsea, but rejected the opportunity and joined Bournemouth on a two and a half year contract in January 2014. He received a call-up to the Democratic Republic of Congo's Under-20 national team during June 2013 and featured in a friendly against Chile. Spent time last season in the Enfield side that reached the Ryman League play-offs.
Work underway for Iron's new manager
Iron Manager Brad Quinton has continued his squad building with the completion of formalities with four more players. Joining the club are:
- Samir Bihmoutine, who is a 23 year old dynamic attacking left back/wing back. Samir spent eleven years at Arsenal including a year as a full professional and then a full year at Bournemouth, from where he spent loan spells at both at Wealdstone in the National South and neighbours Hayes & Yeading.
- Scott Shulton, who returns to the Club after playing a big part in our 2010/11 South championship-winning side. Now 27, Scott (pictured top left with Brad) is an aggressive ball playing midfielder who can score goals. After making 24 appearances for Braintree in 2010/11, Scott enjoyed spells at Bishop's Stortford, Hendon, Wingate & Finchley and Enfield.
- George Craddock, who is a 22. A goal scoring midfielder, George (pictured top right) was a Northampton Scholar before signing a one-year professional contract with the Cobblers. Has recently spent time with National South side East Thurrock.
- Marc Okoye, is 24-year old towering centre-half who has spent recent seasons with Ryman League Premier Division sides Merstham and Dulwich Hamlet. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted Marc at the Club's Open Day last Sunday week!
Brad explains his vision to packed clubhouse
Braintree Town's new manager Brad Quinton met the fans again on Sunday. He aims to first stabilise the Club after its relegation from the Vanarama National League and ensure his completely new look first team squad can establish themselves at that level as part of his longer term strategy.
"We are first laying the foundations and making sure the 18/19 man first team squad are 'all singing off the same hymn sheet' from the outset and know what are aim is which is to progress this club forward again," he explained to over 150 fans attending a Club open day on Sunday afternoon.
"Like at my first club in management at Enfield, we have a great deal of work to do to start with and to get the right mix of the side and have everyone involved behind us," he continued. "That takes time but we will be working hard to get things right from the start and in readiness for the first league game.
"Obviously our aim is to be in that top half of the table and at Christmas if were are in such a strong position then it would be fantastic to make the play-offs but there's a long, long way to go and a great deal of hard work before then," he added. "Initially it's all about consolidation."
Quinton, who has brought his back room team from Enfield, confirmed he had already agreed terms in principle with 15/16 players to sign but would only reveal their identity once signatures had been completed in the coming days.
With all of last season's relegation squad allowed to depart, except young home grown winger Joe Maybanks and goalkeeper Ben McNamara, Quinton is in the process of completely rebuilding a first team squad.
"We will also involve both reserve and academy players along the way and they will mix as and when with the seniors so we can what potential there is with the younger players," he continued. "One thing is for certain though is that all our players will fit and the team well organised from the start of the season."
He went on: "All the players will be constantly monitored in terms of individual fitness levels by my team using the modern techniques that are now part of the game at higher levels so there will be no excuses from them in terms of recovery time from any injuries.
"We will be looking to constantly improve their performances and we will signing players who also able to play in different positions too," he explained. "We will also have our staff out scouting for players, looking at future opponents and doing a great deal of background work which is essential at our level of the game.
"I am hoping the fans will get behind us and we in turn intend to play an attractive brand of football to both entertain and win which has always been the ethos at our Club," he added.
The Club will be holding a trialists' day on June 22 to have a look at potential players and first team training starts on June 24 with the first pre-season home friendly against Southend United on July 15.
The Vanarama National League South kicks off on Saturday, August 5th, with fixtures expected in early-July.
Iron travel to Suffolk coast
Iron have added a seventh fixture to their pre-season schedule. Brad Quinton's new-look Braintree side will visit Lowestoft Town's Crown Meadow Road ground on Saturday, 29th July, with kick-off at 3pm. Lowestoft play in the Ryman League Premier Division and finished eleventh of 24 last season.
Braintree to visit Newmarket's new 3G
Braintree Town have added a sixth fixture to their pre-season schedule. Iron will visit Newmarket Town's Cricket Field Road ground on Tuesday, 11th July, with kick-off at 7.45pm. Newmarket play in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division and have just completed their first season on a state of the art 3G pitch - the first full size with cork infill in the country. With four sides having 3G pitches in next season's Vanarama National League South next season, it gives our new look Iron squad an ideal opportunity to experience game time on an artificial surface.