Match Preview - Vanarama League
Saturday 25 January 2020 - Braintree Town v Slough Town
Slough Town are currently 4th in the Vanarama National League South on 46 points. Their away record this season is: P 11 W 4 D 4 L 3 F 18 A 15 Points 16. Top Scorers - Ben Harris - 10, Matt Lench - 8, Warren Harris - 7, Dan Roberts - 6. Last 4 away League results: Drew 2-2 v Billericay Town, Lost 2-1 v Wealdstone, Drew 1-1 v Hemel Hempstead Town, Won 0-3 v Chippenham Town. Form last 6 games: WDLDDW. Braintree Town are currently 17th in the Vanarama National League South on 30 points. Their home record this season is P 13 W 4 D 2 L 7 F 18 A 25 Points 14. Last 4 home League results: Lost 0-1 v Tonbridge Angels, Lost 1-2 v Chelmsford City, Lost 0-1 v Concord Rangers, Drew 3-3 v Havant & Waterlooville. Form last 6 games: LLLLLW. Top Scorers - Alfie Cerulli - 3, Tyler Christian-Law - 2.
Last meeting was on 7 December 2019 saw Slough Town winning with a late Matt Lench strike in the eighty third minute. This was George Borg's first game in charge following the departure of player manager Jake Hutchings. Much has changed in the seven weeks since that meeting with a virtual overhaul of the Braintree squad. After a sequence of defeats, the new players put in a top performance last time out at Oxford City to show that they are now beginning to come together as a team.
Slough will provide a stern test for the new look Iron with them having the joint second best goals conceded record in the League. In fact, they have only lost once in the League in the last three months and that was to table topping Wealdstone. Let's get behind the boys as they set out to maintain the progress of last week.
Talking to Steve Sheehan
The gaffer has been a big positive, makes us work hard, but good at building morale
DOB: 14/7/90 Born: Orsett. Position: Centre Back
Career history: Waltham Abbey youth - U18, East Thurrock Unite (3 spells), Canvey Island, Billericay Town.
Q. Do you have a job?
A. Yes - Mastic Sealant Man
Q. Who do you support?
Q. Favourite player?
A. John Terry
Likes - Music - House, 80's soul.
TV - Only Fools & Horses, Ozark, NFL and football
Holiday - Florida & Ibiza
Social Media - Instagram & Twitter
Q. Tell me about your career
A. I'd just turned 17 when I joined Waltham Abbey Youth as a centre back and was captain for 2 years. Sometimes I'd be in the first team squad on a Saturday and play for the U18's on a Sunday. I then had 2 months at Leyton before I had my first spell at East Thurrock United. Their manager, John Coventry had coached me at U14. I won the Essex Senior Cup with them and also with Canvey Island and also won the League with East Thurrock United.
Q. How did you end up at Braintree, did you know George?
A. Yes I've known George a few years as I'd played against his teams in the past. He wanted me as he said I fitted what was needed here.
Q. You were made captain on your debut, what do you bring to that role?
A. Stability, leadership, organisation, team morale. I've captained every team I've played for.
Q. There have been a lot of comings and goings in your short time here has it been hard to settle?
A. Not for me. George, the Chairman and the supporters have made me welcome. It's more stable now and we shouldn't see so many changes and we have a solid core of players. Along with Lucas, we'll be implementing player fines!
Q. Is it difficult to get results when the team changes so often?
A. Definitely, it's not been anyone's fault. Sacrifices have had to be made to get to where we want to be. It's taken a few weeks to get there, but it's a different changing room now. Previously it had been made up of smaller factions of 2 or 3 players.
Q. It's a young squad, we've looked physically weaker in some games, would you agree?
A. I would agree but we have technically better players. We're playing well drilled teams who have been settled sides for the whole season and are organised. The young lads here are learning quickly and help us to play on the counter.
Q. What are the positives going forward?
A. A settled side, we get to work on things together in training with the same players. The boys are beginning to know each other and building partnerships on the pitch. They're all buying into what we're trying to do. The gaffer has been a big positive, makes us work hard, but good at building morale.
Q. Who has been the best player you've played with or against?
A. He's my best mate, but I've played with him and against him - Sam Higgins. Playing with him, he scores goals, won the golden boot. Against, when I was at Billericay and he was at East Thurrock United, he got me sent off after 10 minutes.
Q. Which coach/manager has had the biggest influence on your career?
A. Del Robinson, he was a coach at West Ham and he ran our U11-U16 teams. He was ahead of his time, one of the first coaches teaching kids about technique, shape, positioning. He got the most out of you and made it a learning activity.
Q. Which Braintree player is the laziest in training?
A. Josh Oyinsan, he's there in body, not in mind!
Q. Who is the biggest moaner?
A. The Gaffer, he moans about everything, then turns it into a positive.
Q. Which player is the most intelligent?
A. Jacob Gardner-Smith
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
A. Mid table.
Four-goal Iron power to victory
Borg pleased for the Iron fans
Braintree Town ended their recent run of poor results with an emphatic 4-1 victory at Oxford City on Saturday. After an even first 45 minutes, which saw both Chiedozie and Smyth fire over the bar, Iron stepped up a gear after the break and took a 53rd minute lead.
A clearance from skipper Stevie Sheehan found Jordan Chiedozie in plenty of space on the right. Breaking forward he then drilled the ball into the roof of the net (see picture above) past the stranded home keeper Matt Harris. Iron continued to push forward.
Despite a horrendous two-footed challenge on Lucas Kirkpatrick, play was allowed to continue by the referee and Charley O'Keefe broke down the left before steering the ball past Harris for 2-0 and then, moments later it was 3-0 when Liam Smyth got himself on the score sheet.
The home side pulled a goal back on 88 minutes, before Josh Oyinson added Braintree's fourth in time added on.
After the game Iron boss George Borg was delighted: "The lads have work hard today. Oxford are a good side and beat leaders Wealdstone here a fortnight ago. I felt we coped well with the early pressure and got ourselves into the game before half time. Second half we played with confidence and were good value for our goals and the win. Pleased also for the fans who have backed us through thick and thin."
Braintree: Johnson, Howard, O'Keefe, Matsuzaka, Sheehan, Smith, Gardner-Smith, Kirkpatrick, Oyinson, Chiedozie, Smyth. Un-used subs: Christian-Law, Ocran, Stone, Barker and Papple. Referee: Scott Tallis.
Next up for Iron is the visit of Slough Town to Cressing Road, this coming Saturday, 25th January, with kick-off at 3pm.
Match Preview - Saturday 18 January 2020
Vanarama League - Oxford City v Braintree Town
Oxford City are currently 13th in the Vanarama National League South on 33 points. Their home record this season is: P 12 W 5 D 3 L 5 F 20 A 26 Points 18. Last 4 home League games: Won 3-2 v Wealdstone, Won 3-2 v Hungerford Town, Drew 3-3 v St Albans City, Lost 1-4 v Maidstone United. Top scorers: Zac McEachran - 9, Nana Owusu - 5, Elliot Benyon, Josh Ashby & Kyran Wiltshire - 4. Form last 6 games: DWLWWL.
Braintree Town are currently 16th in the Vanarama National League on 29 points. Away record: P 13 W 4 D 1 L 8 F 18 A 33 Points 13. Last 4 away League games: Lost 6-0 v Dulwich Hamlet, Lost 4-1 v Chelmsford City, Lost 1-0 v Slough Town, Lost 6-2 v Welling United. Top scorers: Alfie Cerulli - 3, Tyler Christian-Law - 2. Form last 6 games: DLLLLL. Last meeting at Cressing Road was on 28 September 2019 when an Ade Cole penalty in the 34th minute, was enough to secure all three points. There have been changes to both sides since that meeting. City had won only one of their opening thirteen fixtures; this resulted in the resignation of manager Mark Jones to be replaced by former players Justin Merritt and Andy Ballard. They have overseen a steady climb to their current mid-table position. Meanwhile the changes at Braintree have seen them slip down the table as manager George Borg tries to put together a new team. Iron fans will be hoping that at the city of dreaming spires, dreams of three points will become a reality.
Talking to Lucas Kirkpatrick
George has got some new lads in now and we're starting to gel
DOB: 18/3/95 (24) Born: Luton
Previous clubs: Youth - Luton Town, Bedford Town, Biggleswade Town, Cambridge City, AFC Kempston Rovers, Langford, Hitchin Town
Q. Do you have a job?
A. Yes, I'm a PE Teacher
Q. Who do you support?
Q. Favourite player?
A. Frank Lampard
Q. Likes: Music old school 80's, Luther Vandross
TV/Film - Match of the Day, Law Abiding Citizens
Food - Nandos, spaghetti
Social Media - Instagram and Twitter
Q. Tell me about your career, highs and lows.
A. I started at age six with Luton Town as a right back. As I got older I was moved into midfield as I was more technical and love a tackle. I had a few loans whilst I was there. Then I spent the best times and about four/five years at Hitchin. I won the League Cup with them, two Herts Senior Cups and played in a play-off final for hem, which we lost.
Q. How did you end up at Braintree?
A. I knew Michael Johnson from my time at Hitchin. He's a good friend and he spoke to Glen about me. He gave me a trial and after one training session he signed me.
Q. There's been a lot of comings and goings in your time here, how does that affect you/the squad?
A. It doesn't affect me that much, but more so the squad. We'd built up good team morale, and then there was uncertainty over who's staying or going. George has got some new lads in now and we're starting to gel.
Q. Have you ever known so many changes in one season?
A. No I've never been at a club with so many changes, but players are versatile and want to win games. At this level a lot of players hop from club to club.
Q. How has George changed training/match tactics?
A. He's old school which I like. He gets us up for games. Training is hard, but if we can play on that training pitch, we can play on any pitch. He wants us to get in the opposition's faces. He's given players confidence and put his trust in us.
Q. You've had to slot in at right back a few times, are you comfortable with that?
A. It's not my favourite position, but I'm happy to play anywhere as I feel I'm quite versatile. In one game I started off at right back, and then played in midfield before ending up at left back.
Q. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
A. Strengths - Leadership skills, attitude, giving 100%, my nasty side, technically good. Weaknesses - my height and stature and I'm quite slow.
Q. Who are the best players you've played with?
A. From my time at Luton, Cauley Woodrow who's now at Barnsley, Lewis Bkaer who went to Chelsea and is now at Fortuna Dusseldorf. From Non-League, Kane Smith a midfielder who's at Boreham Wood who I think is good enough to play in the EFL.
Q. Which player has any superstition or quirk?
A. Alfie Cerulli, his boots, if he scores or has a good game he wears them every game. If he has a bad game, he'll chuck them and go out and buy some new ones.
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
A. Comfortably mid-table just below the play-offs.
Early Bird details released
for Promotion Final on Sunday 10 May at Wembley
The Vanarama National League has released details of the opportunity for all football fans to purchase Early Bird tickets for their Promotion Final on Sunday 10th May 2020 at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. Tickets are now on sale and will remain available as outlined below direct from Wembley Stadium Ticketing Portal. This offer is only available on-line. There is also an option for 'Print at Home' (PAH).
EARLY BIRD offer - up to and including 29th February 2020:
Seniors (Over 60): £10
Under 16: FREE **
(** 1 free U16 ticket can be ordered for each ticket sold at Adult or Senior price).
Additional tickets for Under 16 over the above allowance can be purchased at £5 each. Early Bird sales are made even more attractive as no booking fee is charged. Please be advised no ticket is refundable once purchased through the Early Bird option. Disabled seated allocation is available directly through Wembley Stadium and details are also available on-line.
WEMBLEY STADIUM TICKET PORTAL - CLICK: HERE
Notes: General Admission Ticket prices for the Promotion Final will be announced in April. Early Bird tickets will NOT be forwarded to purchasers until the two competing finalist clubs are confirmed. This will allow for ticket allocation to be made in blocks for any group of supporters of a neutral club wishing to be in the same area. Initial purchase therefore will be placed into holding blocks for the time being. In order for this to be offered, each purchaser will be required to nominate which National League member club they align themselves to or they may indicate a 'No Preference' neutral option. Supporters of the two clubs who do reach the Promotion Final and who purchase Early Bird tickets will be allocated their tickets for the correct area of the stadium when allotted to each finalist club.
Match Preview - Vanarama National League
Saturday 11 January 2020 - Braintree Town v Tonbridge Angels
Tonbridge Angels are currently 19th in the Vanarama National League South on 24 points. Their away record this season is: P 12 W 0 D 4 L 8 F 8 A 22 Points 4. Top Scorers - Joe Turner - 8, D'Sean Theobalds - 7, Tom Derry - 6. Last 4 away League results: Drew 2-2 v Maidstone United, Lost 3-0 v Dartford, Drew 1-1 v Hemel Hempstead Town, Lost 1-0 v Hungerford Town. Form last 6 games: DLDLDW.
Braintree Town are currently 17th in the Vanarama National League South on 27 points. Their home record this season is P 12 W 4 D 2 L 6 F 18 A 24 Points 14. Last 4 home League results: Lost 1-2 v Chelmsford City, Lost 0-1 v Concord Rangers, Drew 3-3 v Havant & Waterlooville, Lost 0-4 v Hampton & Richmond Borough. Form last 6 games: LDLLLL. Top Scorers - Rhys Murrell-Williamson - 5 (2 for St Albans City), Alfie Cerulli - 3, Tyler Christian-Law - 2.
Connections: After his short spell at Cressing Road, Harry Donovan moved on to the Angels in November 2019. Last meeting was on 12 October 2019 where the hosts came out victors 5-1. After 20 goalless minutes, three goals in eight minutes from Derry, Theobalds and Hession-Harris gave the away side a mountain to climb. Just past the hour Hession-Harris got his second before Adam Mills pulled one back for the Iron. Rian Bray completed the scoring in the eightieth minute.
During our visit to Darenth Avenue, I learned that former Tonbridge players included former Aston Villa and League Champion winner Ron Saunders and former Newcastle United, Arsenal and England striker Malcolm MacDonald who turned out for the Angels - at left back! This week Tonbridge have recruited Dartford striker Ban Greenhalgh to their squad.
Braintree's defeat at Dulwich Hamlet last time out now means they have dropped into the bottom six of the VNLS. With Iron without a league win in eight attempts and Tonbridge without a league win away in twelve, something has to give! C'mon The Iron!
Iron taught lesson in finishing
Early wasted chances set up emphatic Hamlet victory
Braintree were given a hard lesson in clinical finishing in front of goal at Champion Hill on Saturday where the rampant home side ran away with the game so much so that by being four goals to the good at the interval it ended the game as a contest.
This was one of the most lacklustre performances from an Iron team for many a long time and there can't be any excuses with some players clearly not up for it on the day.
It was a little ironic though the Iron could have been a couple of goals up within the first five minutes when the woodwork and home keeper Charlie Grainger twice denied them in their first attacks.
But when the unmarked Quade Taylor headed in the home side's first goal from a corner on six minutes it was all downhill for the Iron from then onwards as the home side opened up the Iron at will and showed what finishing in front of goal is all about.
On 20 and 28 minutes Shamir Mullings punished sloppy Iron defending to score a brace past keeper Michael Johnson and, in first half stoppage time, Iron conceded a fourth goal from the penalty spot by Jeffrey Monakana after a needless foul in the 18-yard area had been committed.
By then it was game over and although the Iron battled in the second half there was clearly no way back and with the home side playing at their own pace two further late goals from substitute Danny Mills (80th minute) and a superb strike by Monakana (86th minute) ensured home fans in the bumper 2,730 crowd went home happy with their side's performance.
For the Iron, if they are to stem their recent bad run and avoid a slipping towards a relegation battle in the weeks ahead, they will need to improve considerably over this performance and start showing the lethal finishing lessons learnt in this match from the free-flowing home side.
Next Saturday's home game against another struggling side, Tonbridge Angels, is a game in which Iron will be looking to respond positively.
Braintree Town: Johnson; Kirkpatrick, Stone (29 Frimpong), Sheehan, Matsuzaka; Orcan (Barker 75), Gardiner-Smith, Christian-Law, Chiedozie; Oyinsan, Murrell-Williamson. Subs unused: Hinds-Cadette, Papple, Skubich. Referee: Ross Martin.
Match Preview - Saturday 4 January 2020
Vanarama National League - Dulwich Hamlet v Braintree Town
Dulwich Hamlet are currently 16th in the Vanarama National League South on 25 points. Their home record this season is: P 10 W 2 D 3 L 5 F 12 A 16 Points 9. Last 4 home League games: Lost 1-2 v Hampton & Richmond Borough, Drew 1-1 v Dartford, Lost 0-1 v Billericay Town, Lost 1-3 v Bath City. Top scorers: Danny Mills - 12 Ade Yussuf - 6 (2 for Tonbridge A), David Ijaha & Dylan Kearney - 4. Form last 6 games: DLWLLW.
Braintree Town are currently 15th in the Vanarama National League on 27 points. Away record: P 12 W 4 D 1 L 7 F 18 A 27 Points 13. Last 4 away League games: Lost 4-1 v Chelmsford City, Lost 1-0 v Slough Town, Lost 6-2 v Welling United, Won 0-3 v Hemel Hempstead Town. Top scorers: Rhys Murrell-Williamson (2 goals for St Albans City) - 5, Alfie Cerulli - 3. Form last 6 games: LLDLLL.
Last meeting at Cressing Road was on 7 September 2019 when the Iron triumphed by two goals to one. Dulwich took the lead on 19 minutes; a free kick 30 yards out was sent into the box where top scorer Mills had time to chest the ball down and shoot past Johnson. Braintree made a quick start to the second half and although Akinwande thought he had levelled, he was ruled offside. The next attack though saw Ade Cole stride forward to blaze in a powerful strike high into the net giving the keeper no chance. The Iron grabbed the winner on 77 minutes; Coker had a shot blocked, but with the blocking player down injured, Akinwande crossed the ball back in to the box where Cerulli was left unmarked to guide home a simple header. Dulwich made a bright start to the season winning their first three games, two of which came at home. They have not won at home in the League since the 2-1 victory over St Albans City on 10 August 2019. With an improved showing against Chelmsford City last time out, Iron will be heading to Champion Hill hoping to compound their hosts to more home misery.
Disputed penalty decision costs Iron
New look Braintree continue to improve
A disputed penalty 11 minutes from time for the visitors saw them return home with all three points in this highly entertaining local derby at the Cressing Road Stadium on New Year's Day.
The controversy centred on a 79th minute tackle from the Iron's Stevie Sheehan on a City forward which referee Ben Atkinson deemed to be a spot kick and Shaun Jeffers duly converted.
It was an unlucky outcome for the Iron who had battled hard throughout the game coming back from conceding a Tom Knowles goal a minute into the second half with their pressure paying off and Rhys Murrell-Williamson netting a tremendous equaliser on 70 minutes.
Both sides had chances throughout the afternoon to score with fit again first Iron keeper Michael Johnson pulling off three excellent first half saves while at the other end new Iron striker Josh Oyinson and Jordan Chiedozie both saw their efforts scrambled clear.
Having scored the opening goal so early in the second half the visitors held the upper hand for a spell but full credit to Iron they came back strongly and forced the visitors into some desperate defending with Oyinson and Murrell-Williamson also narrowly missing the target.
Having gone behind a second time late on, Iron pushed forward and a superb right cross from Murrell-Williamson brushed the far post with three Iron players so close to getting that final touch on the ball to score.
Iron, who were without the injured Brendan Ocran, Cameron Green and Christian Frimpong, had to draft midfielder Lucas Kirkpatrick in a right-back and 18 year-old Academy player Frankie Stone at left-back as emergency replacements and both did exceedingly well against much more experienced players.
"They both did great and particularly young Frankie who was thrown in at the deep end on his first start for the team," said manager George Borg. "In fact all the players were tremendous and I felt we should have actually won the game."
"We had the better of the first half, were caught cold with sloppy marking at the start of the second half to concede a goal, but showed fantastic character to come back and equalise," he continued. "We then looked strong and far more dangerous going forward before conceding what was not a penalty - in my view.
"I thought their player dived when tackled and the referee was wrong to give them the spot kick," he said.
"I don't like criticising officials, especially after all the good work our boys did," he added. "Overall I am pleased with our performance and we can only get better."
Next up for the Iron is an away match at Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday, 4th January, with kick off 3pm.
Braintree Town: Johnson; Kirkpatrick, Stone, Sheehan, Matsuzaka; Law, Gardner-Smith, Chiedozie, Murrell-Williamson; Oyinson, Cerulli (30 Barker) . Unused subs: Skubich, Hinds-Cadette, Brzozowski. Attendance: 971.
Match Preview - Vanarama National League
Wednesday 1 January 2020 - Braintree Town v Chelmsford City
Chelmsford City are currently 12th in the Vanarama National League South on 29 points. Their away record this season is: P 11 W 2 D 3 L 6 F 13 A 19 Points 9. Top Scorers - Shaun Jeffers - 10, Sam Higgins - 8, Robbie Simpson & Chris Whelpdale - 5. Last 4 away League results: Drew 1-1 v Billericay Town, Lost 2-1 v Chippenham Town, Drew 1-1 v St Albans City, Lost 2-1 v Slough Town. Form last 6 games: DWWLWD.
Braintree Town are currently 14th in the Vanarama National League South on 27 points. Their home record this season is P 11 W 4 D 2 L 5 F 17 A 22 Points 14. Last 4 home League results: Lost 0-1 v Concord Rangers, Drew 3-3 v Havant & Waterlooville, Lost 0-4 v Hampton & Richmond Borough, Lost 0-3 v Hungerford Town. Form last 6 games: LLLDLL. Top Scorers - Rhys Murrell-Williamson - 4 (2 for St Albans City), Alfie Cerulli - 3, Tyler Christian-Law - 2
Cressing Road will no doubt be hosting its biggest crowd of the season so far as the teams meet again six days on from their Boxing Day encounter at the Melbourne Stadium. That 4-1 victory for the Clarets took them above Braintree in the League. The return fixture gives the Iron side a chance to put the record straight and go back above their county neighbours.
Braintree rue missed chances
Borg set to strengthen up front
Despite a battling display by the Iron in a game they more than held their own for most of the contest it was a goal 14 minutes from time by the Canvey Island based-team that saw them run out victors.
After Boxing Day's defeat at Chelmsford City, the Braintree players restored some pride and faith for supporters in their performance against the play-off hopefuls.
Although the visitors also had scoring chances in the game full credit to the Iron players who played better and had they a proven goal scorer up front they would certainly have taken a point from the game.
The one bright spot of the afternoon for Iron fans in the 489 crowd was the home debut of midfielder Jacob Gardner-Smith, on loan from Wycombe Wanderers, who worked hard and showed great tenacity and good passing trying to set his forwards up towards goal.
The other outstanding performance was again from central defender Dan Matsuzaka and the whole defence played well even if it meant a couple of goal line clearances to keep the visitors at bay.
With chances going begging at both ends it was the visitors who finally found the net on 76 minutes when James Blanchfield skipped through the Iron back line to drive the ball home with a fierce, low shot.
Iron's main chances came from young Alfie Cerulli and Rhys Murrell-Williamson while the hard working Gardner-Smith and Lucas Kirkpatrick in midfield tried to get the ball forward and when they did down the right wing with Williamson they always looked threatening, causing the visitors' rearguard a few anxious moments.
Even going a goal behind late on the Iron continued to push forward for an equaliser and Gardner-Smith and Cerulli both went close.
With the Iron manager George Borg hoping to have on board for the next match at home to Chelmsford City on New Year's Day (kick off 3pm) a new striker there is renewed optimism in the Iron camp.
"I thought we did better in this game and really tried to force the game on the visitors and we did create chances and hopefully with the presence of a striker up front we will be able to take those chances," said the manager. "We worked hard and could well have ended with a point against an in-form side."
Braintree Town: Brzozowski; Orcan, Green (81 Stone), Frimpong (61 Chiedozie), Sheehan; Matsuzaka, Law, Kirkpatrick, Gardner-Smith; Cerulli, Murrell-Williamson. Unused subs: Johnson, Barker, Hinds-Cadette. Attendance: 489. Referee: Aji Ajibola.
Next up is the return against Chemsford City on New Year's Day, with kick-off at 3pm.
Match Preview - Vanarama National League
Saturday 28 December 2019 - Braintree Town v Concord Rangers
Concord Rangers are currently 7th in the Vanarama National League South on 30 points. Their away record this season is: P 10 W 3 D 1 L 6 F 12 A 18 Points 10. Top Scorers - Joel Nouble & Kreshnic Krasniqi- 7, Decarrey Sheriff & Aron Pollock - 6. Last 4 away League results: Won 0-1 v Dartford, Lost 3-0 v Wealdstone, Lost 3-1 v Bath City, Lost 2-1 v Havant & Waterlooville. Form last 6 games: WLWWWW.
Braintree Town are currently 14th in the Vanarama National League South on 27 points. Their home record this season is P 10 W 4 D 2 L 4 F 17 A 21 Points 14. Last 4 home League results: Drew 3-3 v Havant & Waterlooville, Lost 0-4 v Hampton & Richmond Borough, Lost 0-3 v Hungerford Town, Drew 1-1 v Maidstone United. Form last 6 games: LLLLDL. Top Scorers - Rhys Murrell-Williamson - 4 (2 for St Albans City), Alfie Cerulli - 3, Christian-Law - 2.
The two sides met at Thames Road on 3 September 2019 and played out a 2-2 draw. Jason Banton gave the Iron the lead with a long range effort on 38 minutes, before Jack Cawley was shown a red card for the hosts with three minutes left in the first half. Despite being down to ten men, the home side made a good game of it and just short of the hour levelled the scores through Decarrey Sheriff. The Iron were front again through Ade Cole with twenty minutes left to play, but the Beachboys were level again with three minutes eft of normal time through Aron Pollock.
The last meeting at Cressing Road came in our surge towards the play-offs on 14 April 2018. Concord went ahead on 75 minutes through Adam Topley, but the Iron fought back with two goals in the final three minutes from Dan Thompson and Luke Allen.
Iron will be looking to put the defeat on Boxing Day behind them as they look to get a result against a resurgent Canvey Island side who enjoyed a Boxing Day victory over Billericay.
City prevail on Boxing Day
Fourth goal the turning point
Iron travelled to Melbourne Park on Boxing Day, encouraged by their dramatic late equaliser against Havant & Waterlooville the Saturday before. There was one change to the starting line-up, with loan signing Jacob Gardiner-Smith replacing Charley Barker.
After a morning of persistent rain, conditions on the Melbourne pitch were difficult underfoot. Chances were spurned at both ends. For City, Jonny Giles acrobatically fired over the crossbar, while Kirkpatrick's effort was turned around the post by Walker. From the resulting corner Stevie Sheehan's header went narrowly over.
For the most part Iron looked fairly untroubled by the home side, but with just four minutes to go until the break Robbie Simpson made the breakthrough for City. Four minutes later Chris Whelpdale burst through a static defence to power a far post header into the net and give the home side a two goal half time lead.
Iron needed to make a positive start to the second half to get back into the game, and after 50 minutes they did just that. The revitalised Rhys Murrell-Willianson cut inside down the left flank before letting in Christian Tyler-Law who slipped the ball past the onrushing keeper from a tight angle.
For a while it looked as though Iron could draw back level but the crucial next goal went to City, with Whelpdale's drive taking a wicked deflection off Sheehan to deceive Brzozowski. Iron survived a couple of scares when the referee ruled out two goals. The final goal of the day came with five minutes to go. Shaun Jeffers converted a penalty, with Lucas Kirkpatrick receiving a yellow card for his part in conceding it.
Brainstree at Chelmsford: Brzozowski, Ocran, Green, Frimpong (Chiedozie), Sheehan, Matsuzaka, Christian-Law, Kirkpatrick, Murrell-Williamson, Cerulli, Gardiner-Smith. Unused subs: Hinds-Cadette, Stone, Baker. Att 919.
Iron now look forward to their next holiday game. Concord Rangers come to Cressing Road on Saturday, kick off
at 3.00 pm.
George strengthens his midfield
22-year old joins from Wycombe
George Borg has continued his improvements to the first team squad with the addition of midfielder Jacob Gardiner-Smith from League One side Wycombe Wanderers on a three month loan. The 22-year old agreed a one-year deal with Wycombe Wanderers after doing well as a trialist in pre-season. Having started his career in Russia with Zenit St Petersburg, Jacob returned to England with Hendon and St Albans City before trailing at Adams Park.
Match Preview - Thursday 26 December 2019
Chelmsford City v Braintree Town
Chelmsford City are currently 12th in the Vanarama National League South on 25 points. Last season they finished 4th on 72 points. In the play-offs, they lost 3-2 in the semi-final to Welling United. Their home record this season is: P 11 W 4 D 5 L 2 F 24 A 19 Points 17. Last 4 home League games: Won 4-1 v Hungerford Town, Lost 2-6 v Oxford City, Drew 2-2 v Dorking Wanderers, Drew 1-1 v Dulwich Hamlet. Top scorers: Shaun Jeffers - 9, Sam Higgins - 8, Robbie Simpson - 4. Form last 6 games: WDWWWL.
Braintree Town are currently 10th in the Vanarama National League on 27 points. Away record: P 11 W 4 D 1 L 6 F 17 A 23 Points 13. Last 4 away League games: Lost 1-0 v Slough Town, Lost 6-2 v Welling United, Won 0-3 v Hemel Hempstead Town, Lost 3-0 v Weymouth. Top scorers: Rhys Murrell-Williamson (2 goals for St Albans City) - 4, Alfie Cerulli - 3. Form last 6 games: WLLLLD.
Connections: The Clarets squad includes former Iron players Chez Isaac and former loanee Ollie Muldoon. Last meeting at the Melbourne Community Stadium was on 1 January 2018. The two sides had met at Cressing Road on Boxing Day 2017 and two evenly contested games both ended 2-2. Phil Roberts gave the Iron the lead in the 35th minute. A Billy Crook free kick, taken just inside his own half, was hit long into the penalty area; Joe Ellul stretched out a leg as the ball dropped diverting it to his left where Roberts was able to side foot home into an unguarded goal. Chelmsford equalised three minutes before half time; a long throw into the area was deemed to have been handled by a Braintree defender and Kudus Oyenuga tucked away the resulting penalty sending McDonald the wrong way. Just past the hour the home side took the lead from another long throw-in. Two attempted clearances from the Iron defence saw the ball end up at the feet of Shaun Batt on the edge of the box, he hit a low first time shot into the bottom right corner of McDonald's net. The Iron came back to earn a point with seven minutes remaining. Muleba sent Barrington away down the right flank, his pace took him beyond a chasing Claret's defender and with former Iron keeper Sam Beasant hurtling off his line to try and intercept, Barrington released the ball to Roman Michael-Percil who had the simple task of running the ball home into an empty net. Highlights can be found here: https://www.thenationalleague.org.uk/archive6517-match-info/match-centre/1-2850676. This promises to be another close encounter although City's recent form would suggest otherwise; the Borg revolution saw the Iron fight back in stoppage time last time out to earn a creditable draw against title favourites Havant and Waterlooville. As we all know, on derby days, the form book goes out of the window.
Rhys brace secures Iron point
Braintree and Havant share six goals
A sensational 30 yard free-kick from Rhys Murrell-Williamson five minutes into added on stoppage time deservedly gave the Iron a share of the points at Cressing Road on Saturday in a highly entertaining game.
With the 90 minutes up it looked as if manager George Borg in his home debut game since being reappointed two weeks ago was going to end in a defeat as the Hawks had snatched what many thought was the winning goal on 89 minutes through Alfie Rutherford.
But with this newly installed 'never say die' attitude amongst the Iron players from the experienced Borg they surged forward and earned themselves a free-kick out on the right outside the visitors' area.
Up stepped Williamson to brilliantly strike the ball into the top far corner of the net giving keeper Ross Warner no chance and leading to wild celebrations amongst the Iron players.
With the Iron starting the game with three new signings on the field - on loan young QPR keeper Marcin Brzozowsk, in for the injured Michael Johnson, defenders Brendan Ocran and Steve Sheehan - and two more on the bench this was certainly a vastly improved home performance after the last one when losing 0-4 to Hampton & Richmond.
With Borg instilling stronger discipline, particularly in defence, there was more organisation in the side against a vastly more experienced visitors who are full-time and have several former Football League players in their ranks.
The Iron took the lead on 23 minutes when Williamson surged down the left wing before crossing a low ball into the Hawks' area where at the far post young Alfie Cerulli slid the ball into the net.
The visitors quickly responded and Iron full-back Cameron Green had to scope the ball off the goal line and twice Brzozowski had to pull of excellent saves to keep his side in the lead.
The visitors though equalised on 36 minutes when Jonah Ayunga fired in a terrific shot but still the young Iron refused to surrender territory and the sides went in level at the break.
It was the visitors though who took the lead on 64 minutes when Josh Taylor beat two home defenders to drive a 25-yard shot that gave the Iron keeper no chance.
With end to end football in the final few minutes there was excitement and goals at both ends.
First on 89 minutes Hawks' substitute Alfie Rutherford powered home what looked to the winning goal but again the Iron players, re-energised under Borg, kept pushing forward for a possible equaliser in added on time.
They were rewarded when Williamson, having been fouled, stepped up and sent in an unstoppable free-kick much to the delight of team mates and Iron fans in the 430 crowd.
Borg said: "I'm absolutely delighted for the players who all put in such a magnificent shift and I felt we fully deserved to get a point.
"We know they have a big budget with loads of quality and more experienced players and are full-time looking to be champions but I told my boys to go out there, enjoy it, work for each other and never give us which has always been my motto," he declared. "They did just that and it was tremendous when you look how young and inexperienced side we are and none of them never stopped working."
Borg, who aims to bring in at least three more players next week to further boost his squad, added: "We've not even had time to work on set pieces yet in training with so many players coming and going but we are on the right track."
Braintree Town: Brzozowski; Ocran, Green, Sheehan, Matsuzaka, Frimpong; Law, Kirkpatrick, Barker (64 Chiedozie); Williamson, Cerulli. Unused subs: Hinds-Cadette, Stone, Skubich. Referee: Jack Packham.
Next up for the Iron is the away local derby match at Chelmsford City on Boxing Day, kick off 3pm.
Borg adds keeper cover
R's keeper joins through to January
George Borg has completed his third signing of the day by adding 21-year old goalkeeper Marcin Brzozowski on a sort term loan from Queen's Park Rangers.
George Borg said: "MJ's been brilliant since I've been at the Club and we all know he's won us games on his own! He remains my number one, but he's been playing with a bit of an injury for a week or two now. Bringing Marcin to the Club will allow MJ a bit of a breather to fully recover. My thanks go to QPR for helping us this close to Christmas."
Match Preview - Vanarama National League South
in association with LV BET
Saturday 21 December 2019 - Braintree Town v Havant & Waterlooville
Havant & Waterlooville are currently 3rd in the Vanarama National League South on 35 points. Their away record this season is: P 7 W 5 D 2 L 0 F 20 A 9 Points 17. Top Scorers- Jonah Ayunga - 12, Alfie Rutherford & Danny Kedwell - 7
Last 4 away League results: Won 1-3 v St Albans City, Won 1-4 v Wealdstone, Drew 2-2 v Maidstone United, Won 0-2 v Oxford City. Form last 6 games: WWWDWL.
Braintree Town are currently 10th in the Vanarama National League South on 26 points. Their home record this season is P 9 W 4 D 1 L 4 F 14 A 18 Points 13. Last 4 home League results: Lost 0-4 v Hampton & Richmond Borough, Lost 0-3 v Hungerford Town, Drew 1-1 v Maidstone United, Won 1-0 v Oxford City. Form last 6 games: LWLLLL. Top Scorers - Femi Akinwande (now Billericay Town) - 6, Tom Richardson (left the club), Jason Banton (Now Romford) & Ade Cole - 5.
The teams met just over three months ago on 14 September 2019 which saw the Hawks previously unbeaten home record fall to Iron. Tom Richardson gave the Iron an early lead in the fourth minute before Brad Tarbuck equalised for the hosts on seventeen minutes. Iron forged ahead again with a second goal for Richardson six minutes short of half time. The points were wrapped up in the final stages of the game with a goal from Femi Akinwande.
The last meeting at Cressing Road was on 18 August 2018 when the two promoted clubs played out a high scoring encounter. Rory Williams put the visitors ahead with just two minutes on the clock. Reece Grant notched his first of the afternoon just past the half hour mark before Mo Bettamer added a second shortly after. The Hawks equalised on the stroke of half time through Jordan Rose.
With just under twenty minutes remaining, Grant scored his second of the day to put the home side back in front. With six minutes of added time the Hawks managed to score in the 94th and 96th minutes through Kabamba and Rutherford and take three points back to Hampshire.
Ironically, the two sides meet again with Havant unbeaten in the League on their travels, although they did succumb last time out in the F A Trophy down the road at Chelmsford City.
There have been several changes in playing staff and a dip in form for the Iron since that game in September. No doubt George will be parading some new faces and instilling a new team spirit to upset the odds once again.
More changes to Borg's Iron squad
Striker returns plus changes to Iron defence
Iron boss George Borg continues to work on his squad. Joining the Club are 25-year old striker Jordan Chiedozie and 26 year old defender Gavin Hinds-Cadette.
Jordan Chiedozie has already played for the Club having made five appearances for Braintree on loan from Cambridge United during the 2015-2016 season, scoring twice. He started his career at AFC Bournemouth before moving on to Concord Rangers and then Cambridge United in 2014. Returned to Concord in 2016 and then spent a season at Margate before spending last season at Chelmsford.
Gavin Hinds-Cadette is an attacking right wing back. He started his career at Hoddesdon before moving on to Aylesbury United and then Berkhamsted.
Both are eligible for tomorrow's match with Havant & Waterlooville. Released by the Club are defenders Michael Clark and Jack James who we thank for their efforts and wish well in the future.
Borg brings in Sheehan
central defender added to Iron squad
Braintree Town manager George Borg has added another new face to his squad with the addition of 29-year old centre half Stevie Sheehan from East Thurrock United. Stevie has had two bouts with the Rookery Hill club, either side of two years at Canvey Island. The second spell with the Corringham based club was in the National League South last season.
Iron boss George Borg was delighted with his latest addition: "Stevie's the sort of player we need to improve our defence. He'll be a big presence in the side and also in our dressing room."
George Borg makes changes
striker in and out - more to follow
George is using the current two week break from action to review the squad. Dipo Akinyemi has been released to sign for, we understand, Welling United. George has already signed a replacement and we are currently awaiting confirmation before making a further announcement. Further signings are expected over the next seven-ten days. Watch this space!
Vanarama's Fanarama! - Looking at 2019 through the eyes of an Iron supporter
Braintree fan Vaughan Creer offers league sponsors Vanarama a unique take on the year, and his hopes for 2020
We're at the half-way stage - sum up the season so far for us in your own words.
We began the season worryingly, losing our first three games, however a fantastic turn of form from the squad lead to us reaching as high as 5th in the table. A few poor results later, and Glen Driver departed. Player-management didn't seem to work, and we are now under former Iron manager George Borg - we're hoping to bring success back to the club.
There's been changes at the helm of course which is never easy - how important is it that there's stability in the dug out now?
Stability in the dugout is vital, it means that the team can maintain a relationship with the managerial team, it will build the squads morale and boost their confidence.
What will 2020 bring for Braintree?
Hopefully a positive turn, and show our recent form to be a minor blip in our season so far, pushing for a play-off position is the ambition of the fans.
Who is your club's player of the season so far?
Michael Johnson. Constantly putting in top-class performances, keeping the opposition's score low, saving penalties, and winning us multiple games.
What your high point so far?
Best moment of the season has to be our last-second winner against Dorking Wanderers, a very tough opposition, and we came back from behind to win the match with a Femi Akinwande strike in the 94th minutes pushing us up towards the play-off positions.
From what you have seen, who is winning the National League South?
Wealdstone surely have it in the bag by now. Top of the league by seven points and showing no sign of stopping any time soon.
Away days: what one sticks out this season as your favourite and why?
Unfortunately I haven't been able to make it to any away games this year, but will 100 per cent be dragging my father out for Chelmsford away, and that will be a fantastic experience - if we win of course!
Why did you first start following the club and how did you first get involved?
I was, and still am, very involved with football. It's fantastic escapism from life, and I wanted a regular fix of football, with a team I can affiliate with and share a passion with. So my local side seemed the perfect answer. I entered the Vanarama Season Ticket giveaway for the 2018/19 season, and to my surprise, won a pair of season tickets for my father and I. We attended every home game that year, and enjoyed awaydays at Leyton Orient, Chelmsford, and Barnet.
What makes Braintree Town so unique and so special to you?
Braintree carries a local connection with it, along with the 121 years of history the club has progressed through, rising all the way to the top of Non-League, and until 2017, hasn't been relegated once. Unfortunately, two came in three years, however this doesn't stop fans turning up week in, week out. The fans, players, managerial team and backroom staff always seem to form a special bond with the supporters. I just don't think that I'd feel the same supporting any other team, and that will never change.
The National League's leasing partner Vanarama have this season launched the Club Reward scheme to help fans back their club's budget. Every time a fan takes out a brand new van lease with Vanarama or a brand new car lease with Motorama their club will earn £100 and you will receive £30 cashback!
For the latest van leasing deals head to Vanarama.
For the latest car leasing deals head to Motorama.
Borg & the boys restore a bit of Iron pride
Defensive resistance broken with seven minutes remaining
With thanks to Jon Weaver.
At the end of another difficult week, Iron made their first visit to Slough Town's impressive Arbour Park facility, provided for them by their local council. It was the first meeting between the two clubs since the 2005-06 season, and the first time that Iron had actually played a game in Slough itself since 1935.
George Borg was in charge of the team, which had three changes from the previous week. Jason Banton had left for Romford, Ade Cole was injured and Rhys Murrell-Williamson dropped to the bench. In came Charley Barker, Oxford United loanee Yoav Sade and Dan Matsuzaka was making a welcome return to the club. Academy graduate Frankie Stone was on the bench for the first time.
The home side are enjoying a very good season, and sat third in the table, despite being winless in their last three games. They started brightly and created three good opportunities within the first eight minutes. Michael Johnson got down low to push a Matt Lench drive away from a corner, and Warren Harris twice failed to find the target. The early onslaught continued throughout much of the game, but for everything that Slough threw at them, Iron were up to the task and repelled and broke up waves of attacks.
Matsuzaka was imperious at the back, with Michael Clark and Christian Frimpong also putting in battling performances that inspired everyone else to dig in and work hard for the cause.
In the second half Matsuzaka headed wide from Iron's only corner, and that was the closest that Jack Turner in the Slough goal came to having anything to do. In contrast Johnson continued to handle with confidence and as the minutes ticked by on the electronic scoreboard in the corner of the ground it looked more than possible that Iron might be able to escape with a point. Those thoughts came unstuck with just seven minutes remaining. The Iron keeper reacted to parry a dangerous shot from Francis Amerty, and Lench was on hand to tuck the loose ball away.
Up front both Alfie Cerulli and Dipo Akinyemi battled hard with the scraps that came their way, but there was to be no dramatic finale and as the referee's final whistle blew Iron's travelling supporters were appreciative of a performance that was full of battling and competitiveness, qualities that had been entirely absent seven days earlier.
After the game George was realistic: "After the week we've had I felt the lads responded magnificently. Slough are a good side, but we worked hard defensively and it was a shame to concede so late. But we've now got a fortnight to have a sort out. I've got some work to do and that starts right away. As ever, I'm looking forward to it."
Next up for Braintree is the visit of Havant & Waterlooville a week on Saturday, 21st December, with kick-off at 3pm.
George adds two
Big Dan is back and Frankie earns promotion
George Borg has added another couple of players to his first team squad.
Returning to the Club is Dan Matsuzaka who rejoins Iron following his departure from Sutton United. The 22-year old centre-half played twelve matches at the end of last season and was instrumental in securing four wins and a draw from our last six matches.
Stepping up from the Club's Academy is Frankie Stone, who will be nineteen years of age in March. Frankie is a previous Colchester United scholar and is at home on the left in either attack or in a midfield role.
Both players will be available for tomorrow's trip to Slough Town.
Match Preview - Saturday 7 December 2019
Vanarama South: Slough Town v Braintree Town
Slough Town are currently 3rd in the Vanarama National League South on 34 points. Last season they finished 11th on 63 points. Their 2018/19 Home record was P 21 W 9 D 7 L 5 F 26 A 19 Points 34. Their home record this season is: P 9 W 6 D 2 L 1 F 16 A 18 Points 20. Last 4 home League games: Won 2-1 v Chelmsford City, Won 1-0 v Welling United, Won 3-1 v Billericay Town, Won 3-1 v Hampton & Richmond Borough. Top scorers: Ben Harris - 9, Warren Harris - 7, Matt Lench - 6. Form last 6 games: WWWDLD.
Braintree Town are currently 8th in the Vanarama National League on 26 points. Away record: P 10 W 4 D 1 L 5 F 17 A 22 Points 13. Last 4 away League games: Lost 6-2 v Welling United, Won 0-3 v Hemel Hempstead Town, Lost 3-0 v Weymouth, Lost 5-1 v Tonbridge Angels. Top scorers: Femi Akinwande - 6 Tom Richardson, Jason Banton & Ade Cole - 5. Form last 6 games: DLWLLL.
This is the second season at this level for the Rebels. They had a slow start to the season, failing to win any of their five opening fixtures. Since then, they have only been beaten once in the League and share the best defensive record of 18 goals conceded, along with Weymouth, Havant & Waterlooville and Bath City.
It's backs to the wall time for our Iron side with George Borg stepping in to replace the departing Jake Hutchings. Once again Iron will be looking to overturn the form table as they travel to Berkshire.
Hutchings steps down
George Borg to take game at Slough
Jake Hutchings has stepped down from his role as player-manager at the Club with immediate effect. Jake advised the Club late last night (Thursday) of his decision, having organised training and arrangements for Saturday's match. First team coach George Borg has agreed to take Saturday's match at Slough.
Chairman Lee Harding said: "I understand and appreciate the reasons behind Jake's decision. With a young child just a few weeks old, taking on the extra responsibility of managing our Club does take significant time and Jake said that he had decided to take a break from football to concentrate on his family. We will always be grateful to him for stepping in to steady the ship and wish him well for the future. We ask that all supporters get behind George and the team at Slough tomorrow (Saturday) before we then have a two-week break to get ourselves prepared for the busy holiday schedule."
Jason Banton has left the Club to join Romford. We thank him for his efforts and wish him well for the future there. We hope to have news on signings later this afternoon.
Early goals set up Hampton win
Iron lack cohesion as squad reorganisation continues
Iron suffered their third consecutive defeat on Saturday and there were few complaints as they were beaten by a resurgent Hampton side who won comfortably.
Both player-manager Jake and coach George are currently reorganising their squad with new signings gradually being introduced for recent departees, but their cause was not helped by the failure of a late fitness test on Jake himself. This dictated that fit again Christian Frimpong played his first game for the Club in almost two years, deputising in the heart of defence and his performance was one of bright spots for home fans in the afternoon.
Iron went behind after two minutes when keeper Michael Johnson could not connect with a high ball which allowed Ruaridh Donaldson the opportunity to get in first to head the ball into the net.
With the visitors creating several clear-cut chances they doubled their lead on 17 minutes when early substitute Louie Soares found space at the far post to drill a low shot into the corner of the net past Johnson.
Two goals down at the interval Iron did try to rally themselves in the second half - the young substitutes Charley Barker and new signing Joav Sade both made telling contributions with far more energy and commitment than some other team mates.
But any hope of a comeback disappeared in the 59 minutes when Johnson was accused of pulling down visiting striker Danilo Orse-Dadomo in the 18-yard box = allowing Ryan Hill to convert the resultant penalty.
At the other end both Dipo Akinyemi and Alfie Cerulli went close with efforts but often the approach play was too laboured and lacked cohesion from the midfield.
The visitors did add a fourth goal in the last minute when defender Charlie Wassmer was allowed to run into the Iron area unmarked to head the ball into the net to give them victory and the three points they fully deserved.
Braintree Town: Johnson; James, Green, Frimpong, Clark; Banton (65 Sade), Kirkpatrick (82 Skubich), Cole (57 Barker), Murrell-Williams; Cerulli, Akinyemi. Unused sub: West. Attendance 390. Referee Jason Richardson.
Next up for the Iron is an away trip to Slough on Saturday, with kick off at 3pm.
Match Preview - Vanarama National League South
Saturday 30 November 2019 - Braintree Town v Hampton & Richmond Borough
Hampton & Richmond Borough are currently 11th in the Vanarama National League South on 22 points. Last season they finished 15th in the Vanarama National League South on 49 points. Their away record this season is: P 9 W 3 D 0 L 6 F 10 A 19 Points 9. Top Scorers - Danilo Orsi-Dadamo - 8, Tyrone Lewthwaite - 6, Sam Deadfield - 4. Last 4 away League results: Lost 2-1 v Weymouth, Won 0-2 v Hungerford Town, Won 0-1 v Welling United, Lost 3-1 v Slough Town. Form last 6 games: WLLDWW.
Braintree Town are currently 8th in the Vanarama National League South on 26 points. Their home record this season is P 8 W 4 D 1 L 3 F 14 A 14 Points 13. Last 4 home results: Lost 0-3 v Hungerford Town, Drew 1-1 v Maidstone United, Won 1-0 v Oxford City, Won 2-1 v Dulwich Hamlet. Form last 6 games: LDLWLL. Top Scorers - Femi Akinwande - 6, Tom Richardson, Jason Banton & Ade Cole - 5.
Borough appointed former Hendon and Dulwich Hamlet boss Gary McCann in May this year. The squad has had something of an overhaul pre-season with last season's top scorer Chris Dickson (17 goals) now at AFC Hornchurch. Connections: Sergio Manesio who was part of this seasons squad who played for Borough last season.
The last League meeting between the two clubs was on 24 March 2018 which ended in a 1-1 draw. It also saw two red cards for the Iron. Braintree started the game well until the dismissal of Billy Crook for a raised foot. The Iron continued to thwart the home side and took the lead on the counter in the 78th minute. Luke Allen striding forward from his own half, playing in Marcel Barrington to his left who drove home a low shot across the home keeper.
The lead lasted just 3 minutes, a low cross from Borough's left was fumbled by McDonald and Wynter drilled home from close range. In the final minute of normal time, Luke Allen received his second yellow of the game. (Highlights can be found here https://www.thenationalleague.org.uk/archive6517-match-info/match-centre/1-2850811)
The Iron retuned to the Beveree Stadium on 13 May 2018 for the play-off final. The home side took an early lead through Kretzschmar before Reece Grant nodded home following some great individual skill from Dan Thompson down the left. There were no further goals and extra time could not separate the two teams. Braintree held their nerve the better in the penalty shoot-out with Diaz Wright scoring the winning penalty to return the Iron the the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Charlie Wassmer and Christian Frimpong are the only two players from that day that are currently at their respective clubs, although Wassmer was at Billericay Town earlier in the season.With another cup exit last Saturday, Jake will be looking to get the League form back on course.
Talking to Alfie Cerulli
I only wanted to sign for Braintree
DOB: 2/2/2001 (18) Born: Harold Wood
Previous Clubs: Tottenham Hotspur (Yth), Colchester United (Yth), Witham Town
Q. Do you have a job?
A. Yes, I'm a football coach
Q. Who do you support?
A. Manchester United
Q. What music are you listening to at the moment?
A. Chart music
Q. Favourite food?
Q. Where did you go on holiday?
Q. Which social media do you use?
A. Twitter & Instagram
Q. What was it like to be offered a contract here?
A. Really, good, it shows my commitment to the club. Other clubs were interested but I only wanted to sign for Braintree
Q. Do you have any thoughts on what career you would follow if football didn't work out?
A. I'd go down the coaching route, I'm currently doing my level 2 which finishes next month.
Q. What differences have you noticed between playing in this League compared to last season?
A. It's just as competitive. In this League anyone can beat anyone, but in the Premier there is a bigger gap between the teams.
Q. Is there a different feel to this squad compared to last season?
A. Both groups are a great set of boys, made me welcome and encouraged me. Perhaps the calibre of some of the loan players we had last season was higher, they helped me to compete with this group.
Q. How do training sessions compare to those you has last season?
A. They are just as good and intense. Most of it is about keeping the ball and out of possession stuff like tracking runners or things from the weekend game.
Q. You said last season that Danny Searle was the best coach you'd worked with, you must've been sad to see him leave?
A. People move on, but he'd helped me massively. Glen came in and did well for me and helped me to improve.
Q. Tom and Femi have had regular starting places, how do you compliment them, what do you offer that is different?
A. Tom is and out and out target man, hold the ball up, when I play with him I play a bit deeper. Femi is powerful, a good runner with the ball and can be unpredictable. I'm more of a technical player.
Q. How was pre-season, how did you keep fit during the summer break?
A. I love it down the gym; I'm down there five times a week. Pre-season was hard, it was my first as a senior player. There was lots of running and it was very intense.
Q. What was it like for you pre-season with so many players trying out for the club?
A. There were lots of players from Bostick League level who are good enough for this League. It was a challenge for me, but I like a challenge.
Q. Are there any players you've struck up a bond with?
A. Isaac Skubich, I played Academy and Youth football with him.
Q. How do you pass your time on away trips?
A. I listen to music or watch Netflix.
Q. Which player in training gives you a hard time?
A. Josh Urquhart, he's a demanding player which is good for me as a young player.it gives me a taste of what it's like playing senior football and improves me.
Q. Who is the biggest moaner?
A. Josh Urquhat
Q. Who is always last out of the changing room?
A. Ade Cole
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
A. If we keep the same team spirit - play-offs.
Yate battle back to win Trophy tie
Early goal undone by later strikes for visitors
New signing Dipo Akinyemi came in to the starting line up, partnering Tom Richardson, up front. The Iron No. 9 was starting his first game for six weeks after recovering from injury. Out went Femi Akinwande, who has left the club to join Billericay, and Rhys Murrell-Williamson. Charley Barker came in for his first start in a home game.
Braintree made the best possible start to this F.A. Trophy tie, when Banton pounced on a defence splitting ball and rounded a hesitant Forster to roll the ball into an unguarded net.
The visitors set about getting back into the game and Louis Britton should have scored when through on goal, but his shot struck the post. Their attacking intent kept Johnson busy in the home goal, although he was able to handle everything that was thrown at him. At the other end Forster saved from debutant Akinyemi's low drive, and Banton played in Richardson, who shot across the face of goal with no one on hand to tap the ball in.
Yate continued to play the more cohesive football in the second half and got the opportunity they needed thanks to a penalty in the 73rd minute. Michael Clark's tackle was judged by the referee to have taken out his man and Britton sent the spot kick out of Johnson's reach for the equaliser.
Iron became more desperate in their attempts to avoid a midweek replay in the West Country. Cerulli came on as substitute and fired high when well placed. Other attacks broke down through rushed final balls or misplaced passes and it was left to Britton to secure a fully deserved winning goal for the visitors with ten minutes left.
Sadly, for the second season running, Iron have exited both national F.A. competitions without winning a game, and now move on to league action when they entertain Hampton & Richmond next Saturday.
TEAM: Johnson, James, Green, Kirkpatrick, Clark, Hutchings, Barker, Cole (Murrell-Williamson), Richardson (Cerulli), Akinyemi, Banton. UNUSED SUB: Skubich.
Jake freshens up squad for Trophy game
Iron make striker switch and sign two more
Iron manager Jake Hutchings has signed Dipo Akinyemi from fellow National League South side Dulwich Hamlet. The 22-year old striker trained with the first team squad last night (Thursday) and Secretary Tom Woodley has confirmed that he will be available for selection in tomorrow's FA Trophy tie.
Dipo began his career at Potters Bar Town before moving on to Stevenage in 2014, making his first-team debut at the start of the 2015-16 season. After a period on loan, he signed for Dulwich on a permanent basis in March 2018 and helped the club to promotion to the National League South during the remainder of the 2017-18 season. Akinyemi scored 17 goals in 53 starts for the Champion Hill Club.
Jake has also added youth team goalkeeper Hayden West and now fit again defender Christian Frimpong to his squad.
Leaving the Club is Femi Akinwande, who has been transferred to Billericay Town, we wish him well for the future.
Match Preview - Buildbase F A Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round
Saturday 23 November 2019 - Braintree Town v Yate Town
Yate Town are currently 19th in the Southern League Premier Division on 14 points. Their away record this season is: P 8 W 2 D 1 L 5 F 10 A 13 Points 7. Top Scorers- Louis Britton (on loan from Bristol City) - 8, Nick Peare - 5, Olly Mehew & Luke Spokes - 3. Last 4 away League results: Drew 1-1 v Beaconsfield Town, Lost 2-0 v Wimborne Town, Lost 2-0 v Dorchester Town, Won 0-2 v Tiverton Town. F A Trophy Results: Drew (home) 3-3 v Tiverton Town, Drew (away) 3-3 v Tiverton Town (won 4-1 on penalties), Won (home) 6-3 v AFC Totton. Form last 6 games: DWDWLD
Braintree Town are currently 8th in the Vanarama National League South on 26 points. Their home record this season is P 8 W 4 D 1 L 3 F 14 A 14 Points 13. Last 4 home results: Lost 0-3 v Hungerford Town, Drew 1-1 v Maidstone United, Won 1-0 v Oxford City, Won 2-1 v Dulwich Hamlet. Form last 6 games: LLDLWL. Top Scorers - Femi Akinwande - 6, Tom Richardson & Ade Cole - 5.
Yate Town were promoted to the Southern League Premier last season after overcoming Cinderford Town 3-1 in the play-off final. Their best performance in this competition was in 2004/05 when they reached the third round. You have to go back to 2001/02 to find Braintree's best run in the Trophy, reaching the fifth round where they were beaten at home by Margate by two goals to one.
Yate Town have the better form of late whilst the Iron have become somewhat inconsistent. Jake and George will be hoping to take advantage of the Bluebells poor away form as they look for a quick response to Saturdays result.
Talking to Tyler Christian-Law
When we have our strongest team out, we're capable of beating most.
DOB: 29/12/92 (26) Born: Enfield
Previous clubs: Enfield (Yth), Margate, Wealdstone, Burnham, Ware, Hanwell Town, Erith & Belvedere (Loan), Romford, Wingate & Finchley (Loan)
Q. Do you have another job?
Q. Who do you support?
Q. Favourite player?
A. Dennis Bergkamp
Q. Likes - Music - R&B, Hip-hop
Film - Batman, the Dark Knight
Food - Thai
Holiday destination - Bali
Social Media - Instagram & Twitter
Q. Where did you have your best season?
A. As a young player I did well at Margate until they changed their manager. Signing permanent for Hanwell Town was probably my best season; I stayed fit and made most appearances.
Q. How did you come to be at Braintree?
A. Pre-season I was at Aldershot, but because of their budget they couldn't take me on. Danny Searle recommended the club to me and I played against Brentford. I then left and came back after the poor start to the season.
Q. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
A. Strengths, passing, tenacity, determined, winning mentality. Weakness - picking up knocks, keeping fit.
Q. What have you made of the football in this League?
A. A lot of teams are hyped up, I'd expected the bigger teams to be better than they are. When we have our strongest team out, we're capable of beating most of them.
Q. Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
A. Jamie Lawrence (ex Bradford City midfielder). I used to train with him. He gives you that winning mentality, don't expect it to be handed to you on a plate, you have to work hard for it.
Q. Best manager you've worked for?
A. Ray Duffy at Hanwell Town, his philosophy was like it is here, playing out from the back. We had players there who had played Connnie South and were capable of playing that way.
Q. Best/worst grounds you've played at?
A. Best - Priestfield, Gillingham. Worst - Barking
Q. Who is the most skilful player in our squad?
A. Jason Banton
Q. Who is the best tackler?
A. Michael Clark
Q. Who is the best finisher?
A. Femi Akinwande
Q. Who is the worst dressed?
A. Adam Mills
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
Welling inflict heavy defeat
Mad half hour gives Braintree a mountain to climb
Iron travelled to Welling United's Park View Road with high hopes of building on their excellent win at Hemel Hempstead, in what was player-manager Jake Hutchings' first game in sole charge.
Welling were the first to show, and came close on two occasions before taking an 8th minute lead. Swaine headed a deep free kick back across goal where it was bravely headed in by Widdrington. Iron's Jack James was injured when he collided with the post. A stretcher was called for, but he was able to make his own way off the pitch, being replaced by Charley Barker.
The home side continued well on top and extended their lead after 20 minutes. Former Iron striker Korrey Henry fired home a knock back from Green.
Seven minutes later Welling were awarded a free kick in front of goal. The wall left a lot of the goal visible and Cook's tame shot looked to have been comfortably saved by Johnson, only for the ball to slip under his body and into the net. At this point it was all one way traffic and minutes later Henry added a fourth, with a glancing Widdrington header inches away from a fifth.
To their credit, Braintree then established a foothold in the game. Femi Akinwande struck the inside of the post from distance, and a free kick from Jason Banton glanced against the crossbar and over. Ade Cole pulled a goal back before the break and there was enough encouragement as the half ended to give belief that Iron could get back into the game.
Shortly after the restart the home side were awarded a disputed penalty. Henry stepped up to send Johnson the wrong way and effectively settle the contest.
Braintree went on to enjoy the majority of position from this point on, working hard to break down a home defence who were content to sit back and protect what they had. Banton, Cole and Akinwande all worked hard but the final ball was often missing or overlooked and shots from distance were blocked. Akinwande was slipped through neatly and scored from close range. At 5-2, another goal or two for Iron might have put a truer reflection on the scoreline but with two minutes of normal time remaining Cosgrave broke free for Welling, carrying the ball 70 yards with only a retreating Hutchings in attendance. The ball was fed through to Henry who finished in style to get his fourth of the game. Last season he scored 5 in 14 starts for Braintree.
In injury time a curling effort from the edge of the box from Charley Barker was tipped away by Wilks when it had looked destined for the top corner. With the final whistle blown, Iron were left to reflect on a hefty defeat strewn with costly errors, but one in which to their credit they kept plugging away and could have scored several more.
Both teams ended the game with 10 men. Welling's Mings was sent off for his actions during a prolonged bout of pushing and shoving. In the dying minutes Iron's Tyler Christian-Law received a straight red card for a robust challenge.
Braintree: Johnson, James (Barker), Green, Christian-Law, Clark, Hutchings, Kirkpatrick, Cole, Akinwande, Banton, Murrell-Williamson (Cerulli). UNUSED SUBS: Richardson, Skubich. Attendance: 538.
Hutchings & Borg to take Iron forward
Iron merge generations to plan for the future
Braintree Town have completed their review of managerial arrangements following the departures last week.
Taking on the role of First team player-manager is popular Club captain and centre half Jake Hutchings - who joined the Club in the summer and has impressed as a nineteen match ever-present this season.
Chairman Lee Harding was delighted to reach an agreement with Jake: "I've been very impressed with the way he's conducted himself since joining our Club in the summer. As both a commanding centre-half and our Club captain, his quiet and assured approach has played a key part of our success so far and I know he has both the support and respect of the lads in the dressing room. You only have to see how the lads responded on Saturday. I think we've definitely fallen on our feet!"
Jake will be assisted by George Borg who returns to the Club as First team coach.
Harding added: "George will be remembered by many Iron fans as the man who took the Club to the Isthmian League play-offs, the Isthmian championship and then Conference South play-offs in three successive seasons from 2005. An excellent and experienced coach, I think the pair of them will compliment each other really well."
Yate Town at home in FA Trophy
Southern Leaguers to visit a week on Saturday
Braintree Town have been drawn at home to Yate Town in the FA Trophy. Yate Town play in the BetVictor Southern Premier South and reached the Third Qualifying Round with an impressive 6-3 Second Qualifying round victory over AFC Totton on Saturday. This match will take place at the Cressing Road Stadium a week on Saturday, 23rd November, with kick-off at 3pm. If a replay is required, it is likely to be at Yate Town's Lodge Road on the following Tuesday evening, 26th November, subject to confirmation.
Best of the season from Iron
Braintree back into the play-off places - playing with panache and smiles on their faces
Under new management, Iron secured an excellent win with an outstanding performance at Hemel Hempstead Town's rain swept Vauxhall Road on Saturday from a performance which must rank as the best display of the season comfortably beating the promotion chasing home side.
They attacked from the first whistle playing some fine passing football that the hosts simply couldn't cope with and when the Iron defence was put under pressure at the start of the second half, stout defending from a well organised rearguard saw players putting their bodies on the line to deal with any danger.
Playing with flare, commitment and cohesion sadly lacking in some of their recent games, Iron kept up the pressure right to the final whistle with the players expressing themselves whilst working as a proper team and supporting one another.
After a turbulent week behind the scenes at the club, two of the senior players - Jake Hutchings and Josh Urquhart - volunteered to sort out the team and prepare them for what was expected to be a severe test.
But they did an excellent job with the players responding in the right fashion and going about their tasks with renewed vigour with Hutchings adding afterwards: "Everyone was up for it and we told them how we wanted to play and they did exactly that with a performance and win we thoroughly deserved."
Ironically the only team change saw the one player the previous management chose not to play - Jason Banton - making the starting line-up and his work-rate and commitment paved the way for the Iron win as he was involved in almost everything the Iron did in midfield and creating goal scoring chances up front.
With Femi Akinwande leading the attack and back to his best he, Banton and the ever-busy Ade Cole threatened the home goal early on and all went close to opening the scoring.
Iron pressure paid off in the 26th minute when a sweeping right wing move saw the ball swung over to the far where Banton forced the ball home off keeper Sam Beasant and the post to give them the lead.
They could have added two or three more goals before the break but with such a slender lead the home side came out stronger and for a few minutes pressurised the Iron defence but on 56 minutes it was Banton who help settle the nerves when getting first to a 50/50 ball in the centre circle and then slipping the ball through to the on-rushing Cole who ran on with glee to slide the ball into the net under the body of Beasant.
That second goal was needed to give Iron breathing space but they still kept up their constant attacking pressure on the home defence. Ten minutes later it paid dividends again when again another sweeping move upfield saw the ball through to Jack James down the right and he calmly kept his composure before firing in a low shot into the far bottom corner of the net for his first goal for the club.
Keeping a clean sheet and scoring three excellent goals away from home was no more than the Iron deserved on the day and just rewards for all the players' efforts after such an upheaval in the couple of days leading up to the game.
Chairman Lee Harding was equally pleased: "Credit to both Jake and Josh for helping the Club and their efforts paid off with our best performance of the season. Playing without pressure and with a little panache, it was great to see the lads enjoying their football again with smiles on their faces."
Braintree Town: Johnson; James, Green, Clark, Hutchings; Urquhart, Cole, Kirkpatrick (86 Barker), Christian-Law; Akinwande (90 Murrell-Williamson), Banton (68 Cerulli). Unused sub: Richardson. Referee: Scott Tallis. Attendance: 481.
Next up for Iron is a trip to Welling United's Park View Road ground for another League match next Saturday. This is followed seven days later with our FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round tie - with the draw for this expected at lunchtime tomorrow (Monday). News on that as soon as we have it.
Match Preview - Saturday 9 November 2019
Hemel Hempstead Town v Braintree Town
Hemel Hempstead Town are currently 4th in the MANarama National League South on 29 points. Last season they finished 16th on 48 points. Their overall record last season was P 42 W 12 D 12 L 18 F 52 A 67 Points 48. Their 2018/19 Home record was P 21 W 6 D 7 L 8 F 27 A 36 Points 25. Their home record this season is: P 7 W 5 D 1 L 1 F 13 A 6 Points 16. Last 4 home League games: Drew 1-1 v Eastbourne Borough, Won 2-1 v Bath City, Won 2-0 v Chelmsford City, Won 3-0 v Billericay Town. Top scorers: Liam Nash - 8, Sam Ashford & Ricardo German (on loan from Crawley Town) - 4. Form last 6 games: WWWWDL.
Braintree Town are currently 9th in the MANarama National League on 23 points. Away record: P8 W 3 D 1 L 4 F 12 A 16 Points 10. Last 4 away League games: Lost 3-0 v Weymouth, Lost 5-1 v Tonbridge Angels, Won 1-3 v Havant & Waterlooville, Drew 2-2 v Concord Rangers. Top scorers: Femi Akinwande & Tom Richardson - 5, Adam Mills - 4. Form last 6 games: WWLLDL
The two teams last met in the League on 9 September 2017 in an entertaining high scoring encounter. The Iron had made a bright start testing the home keeper in a couple of occasions, but it was the home side that hit the front first. McDonald had already repelled one goal bound effort from the left with his feet, but Town reworked the ball out wide on the right, where a cross was met by an onrushing, unmarked Charlie Sheringham to head home. The lead only lasted 5 minutes, Scott Shulton sending in a low cross from the left where former Iron player Taylor Miles stuck out a foot and directed the ball into the net. A few minutes before half time, Braintree took a lead into the break, a cross from the right was chested down by Roberts and Shulton swept home a low shot into the far corner of the goal.
Having played well in the first 45 minutes, the second half, just short of the hour mark saw a mad 7 minutes where the home team established a two goal lead. A long goal kick was allowed to bounce over the Braintree backline and with McDonald way off his line; Liburd nipped in, rounded the keeper and stroked the ball into an unguarded net. Kaloczi then headed home a free kick before Parkes fired home from the edge of the box. With 15 minutes left, Roberts reduced the deficit, played in down the left of the penalty area and shooting home across goal. Iron of course would gain some revenge when Hemel hosted the first play-off game on 2 May 2018. The game finished nil-nil and neither team could break the deadlock in extra time, before the Iron ran out 3-2 winners on penalties.
Braintree go into this latest encounter on a poor run of form which has seen them slip out of the play-off places. Meanwhile former Concord Rangers boss, Sammy Moore who took over in May this year, has already improved the Tudors aspirations. This looks like a game that could see another high scoring encounter with the Iron needing to tighten up at the back.
Iron players positive for Saturday
Stability key to our future
Chairman Lee Harding spent time with the first team squad to discuss the departure of Glen Driver on Thursday evening and received a positive response, with both captain Jake Hutchings and Josh Urquhart offering to organise both training and arrangements for Saturday's game at Hemel.
Harding was quite philosophical about Driver's departure: "I'm confident that we have been consistent in our dealings from day one with Glen. The budget was clearly explained and we have only made additions to it since the start of the season. The only financial restrictions that the Club put in place are an expectation to operate within it!
I always expected that, with a new squad, there would be ups and down, but I'm not sure finances were anything to do with Glen's decision to step down. It does seem that some comments at games and on social media have had an impact, but sometimes you have to develop a thick skin to what is said by a very small minority.
There was never any expectation that the budget would only be maintained by progress in the FA Cup. Glen knew that any prize money from the cup wins would be added to his budget as a windfall - alas it wasn't meant to be.
The team have done well to date and we sit in a comfortable position in the table. I also believe that Tony Kinsella has done really well for us and deserves a lot of the credit for the quality of football we have played.
Yes, recent results have been disappointing but, for the Club, this is a long-term project to build on solid, affordable foundations. We have seen from other clubs the consequences of spending more than you can afford.
So we wish both Glen and Tony the very best and now look forward to supporting the first team in the future."
The MANarama Big Interview:
- A new home is where Braintree's heart is
League sponsors MANarama ask how important a new stadium could be to the club
Sam Elliott at the Manarama League caught up with Braintree Chairman Lee Harding earier this week to see if a landmark really could be on the horizon and if he's still dreaming of things falling into place.
"In 2023 we celebrate 100 years at Cressing Road," he explained to Sam.
"I know things rarely play out that way in life but wouldn't it be fantastic if that's the final year at the old place before we finally get the key to the new stadium?
"The ground is 97 years old. The old girl has served us superbly well. We love the place, it's home, but it has its limitations and that's why we've been looking at the future for quite a while now."
Quite a while is a bit of an understatement. Braintree's long-serving figurehead has been trying for the best part of two decades to push the club forward. A few false starts hasn't put Harding off, mind you. The Iron are continuing to liaise with the local council over potential sites in the town. So will patience eventually pay off?
"Oh I hope so!" he says. "I have been trying since 2003 - around 17 years now. We're continuing to work with the local authorities and we'll keep pushing for it because we know how important a new stadium is to the club and could be to the town.
"Overnight, the Club's income would have the potential to double maybe even treble - that is exactly how important a new home is to us and why we keep on trying.
"I want to finish the project, and I am keen to deliver this before I die. I would like to think I have 15-20 years left in me yet! I want to see the club walking out there and so do so many others.
"If we can get this right, then it would give the club a massive lift in so many areas. We would love to celebrate the centenary at Cressing Road with the news that something very big is around the corner."
But what could the thumbs up from the local council actually spark?
"The club for some time has been operating on a beg, borrow and steal policy - not so much of the steal, but you take the point," he adds.
"It's make or break for the Club - it would allow us to have a real future. We've been relegated twice from the National League top flight in two of the last three seasons - with a promotion in between! - because we just can't match some of the former League clubs pound-for-pound. But when we do get it right we can even start thinking about the Football League as we did just three years ago. Wouldn't that be fabulous for Braintree?
"By doubling or potentially even trebling our income, we'd give ourselves a chance to push on and with new facilities we can attract more people to come out and support the club on a regular basis.
"We won't stop trying. It's too important and we have worked too hard to give up on the dream."
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