South's last unbeaten record goes
Iron hold their nerve to inflict first defeat on Havant & Waterlooville
Braintree Town ended the National League South's last unbeaten record with a 3-1 victory at Havant & Waterlooville.
A crucial 68th minute penalty save by Iron keeper Michael Johnson proved to be the turning point of this exciting and enthralling encounter at Westleigh Park on Saturday.
The home side were looking for an equaliser when they were given a dubious penalty by referee Lee Brennan but Anthony Straker's spot kick was brilliantly saved by Johnson down low to his right and the loose ball was kicked clear.
Had the Hawks equalised they may probably have gone on to win but, despite pressing the Iron defence hard after the penalty miss, they struggled to make much inroad against a stubborn and well organised Iron defence who were relieved two minutes from time when Femi Akinwande raced clear from the halfway line to slot the ball home for that all important third goal.
It was a hard earned victory for Iron who, at times - particularly in the first half, had their backs to the wall but they showed growing confidence with some resolute defending which has now earned them 13 points from their last five games.
Iron manager Glen Driver was naturally pleased at the way his players responded adding: "Yes, we were under the cosh in that first half having taken an early lead and they could have scored two or three goals, but we battled hard as a defensive unit and showed what progress we have made in such a short time.
"Havant one of the top sides in the division but we stuck to our task, weathered that early storm and came back stronger in the second half when I felt we were the better side and fully deserved our three points," he continued. "The penalty save was the turning point and again Michael has demonstrated what a good keeper he is and he was also made several outstanding saves and caught difficult crosses throughout the game."
Iron had the best possible start taking the lead in just the fifth minute when the hard working Ade Cole turned his maker on the right of the home area before crossing into the middle where Tom Richardson headed the ball into the net.
But that lead only lasted until the 17th minute when home substitute Brad Tarbuck cut inside from the left wing firing in a shot low into the far corner of the Iron net.
Iron then lived dangerously with the home side's Sam Magri heading the ball against the Iron bar and then Roarie Deacon, standing on the edge of the penalty box, had the easiest of chances to help his side take the lead but somehow defender Harry Osborne managed to scoop the ball away off the goal line.
The home side were made to pay for squandering their chances when up at the other end on 40 minutes when a cracking move saw the ball released to Richardson who rounded keeper Ross Worner to drill the ball into the net to give Iron a half time advantage.
Four minutes after the restart Akinwande strode clear on one his usual sprints but his thunderous right-foot shot came back into play having crashed off the underside of the home crossbar.
A goal then would have given the Iron some breathing space but with some excellent defending, great saves by Johnson and a never-say-die performance from all Iron players, they held on with the icing on the cake being Akinwande's fine goal on 88 minutes.
The win pushes Iron up to sixth in the league but focus now switches to the FA Cup and a difficult tie away at Enfield Town this coming Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Braintree Town: Johnson; Osborne, Green, Clark (45 Donovan), Hutchins; Urquhart, Cole (73 Barker), Coker (59 Mills); Akinwande; Cerulli, Richardson. Unused subs: Banton, Christian-Law. Referee: Lee Brennan. Attendance: 1,351.
Match Preview - Saturday 14 September 2019
National League South - Havant & Waterlooville v Braintree Town
In 2018/19, Havant & Waterlooville finished 22nd in the National League Premier. Overall record 2018/19: P 46 W 9 D 13 L 24 F 62 A 84 Points 40. Home 2018/19: P 23 W 7 D 6 L 10 F 37 A 32 Points 27. They are currently 2nd on 20 points. Home 2019/20: P 5 W 2 D 3 L 0 F 10 A 2 Points 9. Last 4 home games: Won 3-1 v Hungerford Town, Drew 0-0 v Eastbourne Borough, Drew 0-0 v Chelmsford City, Won 6-0 v Dorking Wanderers. Top scorers (2018/19): Alfie Rutherford - 15, Nicke Kabamba - 5. Top scorers 2019/20: Jonah Ayunga - 8, Roarie Deacon - 4, Wes Fogden, Josh Taylor & Andy Drury - 2. Form last 6 games: DWDWWD.
Braintree Town are currently 8th in the Vanarama National League on 16 points. Away 2019/20: P 5 W 2 D 1 L 2 F 8 A 7 Points 7. Last 4 away games: Drew 2-2 v Concord Rangers, Won 1-2 v Chippenham Town, Lost 2-1 v Dartford, Won 0- 3 v St Albans City. Top scorers: Femi Akinwande - 4, Tom Richardson, Jason Banton & Adam Mills - 3, Alfie Cerulli - 2.
Form last 6 games: WLWWDW.
The last meeting at Martin Road was on 8 December 2018. The home side took all 3 points thanks to an Alfie Rutherford brace, with a Ryan Woodford consolation own goal sandwiched between for the Iron. All the goals came in the second half, with the winner scored in added time at the end of the game.
Following their relegation alongside us last season, manager Lee Bradbury was dismissed and has been replaced by former Sutton United boss Paul Dowsell. Dowsell has raided his former club for six players including the League's current leading marksman - Ayunga. Six players over the age of 30 joined including former Gillingham and Ebbsfleet front man Danny Kedwell. So far this season the Hawks remain unbeaten, but five draws has seen them seven points adrift of table toppers Wealdstone. Braintree meanwhile continue to evolve and have shown in recent matches their willingness to battle back after going behind in matches. A trait that should stand them in good stead as they attempt to be the first side to beat the high flying Hawks.
Talking to Ade Cole
Our box to box midfielder
DOB: 3/10/94 (25) Born: Newham, London
Career History: Blackpool, Dulwich Hamlet, Aveley, Heybridge Swifts, Enfield Town, Waltham Abbey, Romford, Grays Athletic, Leiston, Canvey Island
Q. What is your job?
A. Teaching Assistant/Support Worker
Q. Who do you support?
Q. Who is your favourite current player?
Likes: Music - R&B, Hip-Hop, UK Music
- TV/Film - Snowfall
- Food - Jollof rice & spag-bol
- Social Media - Instagram & Twitter
Q. What are your interests outside of football?
A. Being around music
Q. Tell me about your career to date, how did you end up at Blackpool?
A. I want there at 16 after being spotted by a scout at Southend; I was there 2 years under the management of Ian Holloway and then Paul Ince. I had a good time at Grays where I was voted into the team of the season, When Glen took over here he came in for me after I'd played for him at Leiston.
Q. Did you start out as a midfielder, what role beat suits your game/where do you prefer playing?
A. No, I was a striker. I would say that I'm a box to box midfielder.
Q. What have been the highlights of your career so far?
A. Playing with Jason Banton. I've not played in finals or play-offs, boring career.
Q. Have you played with or against any of your current team mates before/does that help you when starting out at a new club?
A. I played with Jake Hutchings during my time at Leiston. I know a lot of the boys from playing football. I knew Bants when he was at Liverpool/Palace - that's my claim to fame!
Q. Have you set yourself any challenges for the season?
A. I want to make the play-offs with the boys.
Q. To what level do you think you can progress?
A. As high as possible, would like to get back into full time.
Q. Who has been the best coach/manager you've worked with?
A. Luke Hobbs at Southend, he was like a father figure to me.
Q. How have you settled in at Braintree, how do you think you/we've done?
A. We made a slow start against some difficult team, but we're in good form at the moment. We can go as far as we want to go as a team. It's been good for me to have played in every game and to be voted player of the month by the fans.
Q. Who is the wind up merchant in the squad?
A. Me, but also Josh Urquhart
Q. Who is the most skilful?
A. I'd say me, but I play with Jason Banton!
Q. Who wears the best/worst gear?
A. Best - Femi, take a look at his Instagram. Worst - Adam Mills
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
Friendly at home on Tuesday
Iron XI to play Cambridge City
Braintree Town Manager Glen Driver has organised a friendly match this coming Tuesday evening, 10th September, against Cambridge City, to give a number of the first team squad additional minutes. Kick-off is 7.45pm and admission is free to all.
Enfield Town away in the FA Cup
Iron travel to Isthmian Leaguers in Second Qualifying Round
Braintree Town have been drawn away to Bet Victor Isthmian League side Enfield Town in the Second Qualifying Round of this season's Emirates FA Cup. The match will take place a week on Saturday, 21st September with kick-off at 3pm.
If the game at Enfield finishes as a draw, the replay will be at the Cressing Road Stadium the following Tuesday, 24th September, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Second half Iron turn it around
Glen: "I have to keep reminding them they have to do it over 90 minutes and not 45"
For the second Saturday running young Braintree striker Alfie Cerulli came off the substitutes' bench to score a match winning goal in this Iron's third home win in succession at Cressing Road on Saturday.
The 18 year-old, who had signed a contract at the Club during the week, again showed his tremendous potential by heading his goal on 77 minutes courtesy of a superb inch-perfect left wing chip into the area from Femi Akinwande.
In an entertaining game with free flowing football from end to end so many chances were created the final scoreline could have been 4-4 or even 5-5, all this after a poor first half showing by Iron.
It left manager Glen Driver fuming at half time and he gave the players a real rollicking in the dressing room adding: "I don't normally lose my rag but after that first half showing I couldn't let it go - we were outplayed by them, showed no effort to close them down and any decent work right through the team and we were lucky to only be a goal down after they scored in the 19th minute from a free-kick we failed to pick up their player."
His straight forward team talk clearly did the trick because Iron came out a totally different side on the restart and went on to dominate the second half playing some excellent football and constantly causing panic in the visitors' defence.
The half time substitution of Jason Banton for young Cerulli immediately paid off because he chased every ball and was involved in all the Iron attacks, forcing the visiting defence and their midfield to sit much deeper than in the first half.
Iron equalised on 47 minutes thanks to an amazing, jinking run from just over the half way line by Ade Cole who twisted and turned defenders before firing in a tremendous 20 yard shot in the top corner of the Hamlet net.
Two minutes later Tom Richardson thought he had scored when firing the ball into the net, but he was given offside. Despite this, Iron kept pushing forward with neat, attractive football.
They were rewarded on 77 minutes when Cerulli popped in the area to head home to give the Iron lead and moments later Cole could have scored his second when racing clear of defenders with only keeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer to beat the visiting custodian pulled off a fantastic save to deny him.
With the clock ticking down to the final whistle the visitors threw everything at the Iron defence and came close to scoring two or three times but some great last minute ditch tackles and clearances from the home area saw Iron duly hang on for victory.
Driver, thoroughly pleased with his side's second half performance, said: "It shows the character and commitment we have in the side and how we can play well and beat top sides.
"But excited though the players were, I have to keep reminding them they have to do it over 90 minutes and not 45 minutes - we cannot afford sloppy defending and poor passing to allow sides to score and take the lead," he continued. "Both sides could have scored more goals but again great defending by us ensured we collected all three points."
Goal winning hero Cerulli said: "Just pleased to get in the game at half time and scoring the winner - it tops off a good week for me having signed my first contract with the club."
Braintree Town: Johnson; Osborne; Clark, Hutchings, Green; Urquhart, Banton (45 Cerulli), Cole, Coker (82 Harvey); Akinwande, Richardson (84 Bonnett-Johnson. Subs not used: Barker, Donovan. Attendance: 539.
Next up for the Iron is an away match at Havant & Waterlooville next Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Cerulli earns a contract
Glen: "He's got his head down and worked hard"
Iron Manager Glen Driver has awarded striker Alfie Cerulli a contract following his excellent start to the season. 18-year old Alfie has come through the ranks at Cressing Road and impressed with his performances, including the winner at Chippenham Town last Saturday.
Glen was pleased to reward Alfie's progress: "He's got his head down and worked hard. I was pleased to see him sign a contract - he's deserved it."
Alfie was also happy: "I'm really enjoying my football and am pleased to commit my future to the Club."
Youth progress in FA Youth Cup
3-1 victory at Barking
Congratulations to our Under 18 side who won their FA Youth Cup Preliminary Round tie 3-1 at Barking on Thursday evening. The goals came from Liam Davey, Dec Cameron and Jordi Papple.
Their prize is a home tie against Welwyn Garden City on the Cressing Road Stadium pitch in the First Qualifying Round with this match provisionally scheduled for Wednesday 18 September, kick-off 7.45pm
Driver strengthens his squad
Former Millwall midfielder joins
Iron boss Glen Driver has further strengthened his squad ahead of Saturday's Vanarama National South match at home to Dulwich Hamlet. Joining the Club is 21-year old midfielder Harry Donovan. Harry started his career at Arsenal before moving on to Millwall in the summer of 2016. In his three years at the New Den, Harry spent time out on loan at both Dagenham & Redbridge in 2018 and, last season, Havant & Waterlooville in the National League Premier - making 17 appearances.
Femi Akinwande dishes Braintree's dressing room dirt!
League sponsors Vanarama have been busy opening the changing room doors... so what lies behind?
You can choose three team-mates to go on a road trip with - who do you pick to jump in the car and why?
Ade Cole will 110 per cent be in my car school, the guy is full of energy and won't sleep. Josh Urquhart has to jump in, he's another one full of energy and he's got good karaoke in him! Sean Bonnet Johnson has to be in the car he's got the best music taste.
But who is the one you wouldn't let near in the car?
Micheal Johnson wouldn't get a sniff near the motor! Not too sure about his music taste so I can't take that chance. And of course he's a goalie - I don't like goalies!
Which Braintree player would you not let touch your car stereo?
Micheal Johnson. He's not too keen on what music is played before games well I haven't seen him sing along to any so far.
Who is most likely to become a manager when their playing days are over?
I would say Sean Bonnet Johnson, he's got that management mind and I can see him taking up a managerial role.
But which one is the least likely to do the job?
Ade Cole! The guy doesn't watch football outside of playing it. He don't even know when the meet time is!
Who's the dressing room joker?
Ade Cole is definitely the dressing room joker - no matter what the day or the week it is, he comes in with good vibes and loud as ever
But who is grump what it comes to team banter?
Sergio Manesio don't really like banter! He's quiet, and just wants to play ball and go home.
Who spends the longest in front of the mirror after games?
Josh Erquhart is always combing his hair -then he bringing his own blow dryer!
Who would you say is your best mate at the club?
Me and Ade Cole get on really well. I knew him before I signed for the club but since we come to football together and go home together it plays a big part.
Best trainer in the squad?
I've got to give this one to myself! A couple of the lads know about the nutmegs - £2 fine please!
Sponsors Vanarama have recently 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 Mototama their club will earn £100 and you will receive £30 cashback!
For the latest van leasing deals head to Vanarama - link above.
For the latest car leasing deals head to Motorama - link above.
Iron held on Canvey Island
Late leveller denies three points
Ten-man Concord Rangers scored a second equaliser three minutes from time to deny Iron a third consecutive win in what was an entertaining game with end to end football on Canvey Island on Tuesday evening.
Overall a draw was perhaps a fair result although the home side will feel well satisfied having had to play the second half with only 10 men after the experienced defender Jack Cawley had been dismissed for a challenge on Iron striker Tom Richardson three minutes before the break.
Iron, who gave a left-back debut to 20 year-old defender Cameron Green, signed on loan from Premier League side Watford earlier in the day, had almost taken a lead early in the game when first Femi Akinwanda and then Ade Cole were denied by home keeper Chris Haigh.
Iron did take the lead on 37 minutes when Jason Banton weaved his way past defenders from the half way line before firing a great 25-yard shot in the top right-hand corned of the home goal.
Despite being a player short the Canvey side started the second half with determination and three times threatened the Iron goal but were denied by fine saves from Michael Johnson before they equalised on 57 minutes when a left wing cross was met first time by Decarrey Sheriff with a header that gave keeper Johnson little chance.
Back came Iron again and they regained the lead on 70 minutes when Cole followed up a Richardson shot parried by Haigh and he swept the ball low into the net.
Iron kept pressing hard for that vital third goal to give them a cushion but it never came and poor marking on the edge of the Iron area with three minutes minutes allowed home defender Aron Peacock to stride forward and drive the ball low into the right corner of the net.
With five minutes of added time both sides searched for a last-gasp winner, but it never came and both sides had to settle for a point each.
Braintree Town: Johnson; Urquhart, Clark, Hutchings; Green, Christian-Tyler (94 Bonnett-Johnson), Banton (81 Cerulli), Cole, Coker (78 Osborne); Richardson, Akinwanda. Unused subs were Manesio, Barker. Attendance: approximately 200.
Next up for Iron is a home game this coming Saturday, 7th September, against Dulwich Hamlet, with kick off at 3pm.
Match Preview - Tuesday 3 September 2019
Vanarama South - Concord Rangers v Braintree Town
In 2018/19, Concord Rangers finished 6th in the National League South. Although finishing in a play-off place, they were not allowed to compete as their ground did not make ground grading requirements. Overall record 2018/19: P 42 W 20 D13 L 9 F 69 A 48 Points 70* (3 points deducted). Home 2018/19: P 21 W 11 D 7 L 3 F 39 A 19 Points 40. They are currently 6th on 13 points. Home 2019/20: P 4 W 3 D 0 L 1 F 7 A 3 Points 9. Home record this season: Won 2-1 v Chelmsford City, Won 2-1 v Slough Town, Lost 0-1 v Maidstone United, Won 3-0 v Welling United. Top scorers (2018/19): Alex Wall - 24, Jack Midson (now Assistant Manager at Hemel Hempstead Town) - 15, Liam Nash, Sam Blackman, Juan Prados - 5. Top scorers 2019/20: Decarrey Sheriff - 4, Joel Nouble - 3, Kreshnic Krasniqi - 2. Form last 6 games: WLLDLW
Braintree Town are currently 8th in the Vanarama National League on 12 points. Away 2019/20: P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 F 6 A 5 Points 6. Away record this season: Won 1-2 v Chippenham Town, Lost 2-1 v Dartford, Won - 0- 3 v St Albans City, Lost 2-0 v Bath City. Top scorers: 2019/20: Femi Akinwande - 4, Tom Richardson & Adam Mills - 3, Jason Banton - 2. Form last 6 games: WWLWWL.
Connections: Midfielder Joe Gardner was brought to Cressing Road by former Concord boss Danny Cowley in 2016.
Concord appointed former player Dan Scopes as manager in May 2019. He led the Beach Boys to the Isthmian Premier League in 2012 alongside joint manager Danny Cowley. Like us, he has seen an overhaul of the playing staff during the summer. Leading the way in their goal scoring charts is former Colchester United striker Decarrey Sheriff. Our last meeting at Thames Road was on 12 September 2017. On a wet evening, an early goal in the eleventh minute from Phil Roberts was enough for the Iron to claim all three points.
This promises to be an enthralling encounter between two Essex sides making an early season play for the top seven. Glen's boys edge the current form table between the two sides having picked up twelve points in their last six games compared to Concord's seven points. It could all come down to the two former Colchester United strikers to make the difference.
Late drama secures 3 points
Iron level with the play-off places
It took a fantastic point blank reaction save from Iron keeper Michael Johnson three minutes into added stoppage time to ensure his side returned from Hardenhuish Park with all three points on Saturday.
Having come from behind and taken a one goal lead in the second half the home side, pushing hard for an equaliser late on and forcing three quick corners, were denied when a fierce header looked goalbound until Johnson managed to push the ball over the bar.
It would have been an injustice though had Iron not won this game because they dominated it for long periods with some outstanding play in midfield from in particular Jason Banton and Ade Cole who ran the home side ragged every time they attacked - but it was all too often wasted by poor finishing from the forwards.
Iron went behind after only 11 minutes when in their first attack the home side scored through Curtis McDonald thanks to lax marking in defence.
Iron pressed for an equaliser hitting the bar and Tom Richardson three times shoot tamely at goal when he should have done better but it all meant the home side went in at the break leading by that early goal.
Five minutes after the restart Iron could have scored from the penalty spot after new signing from Maldon & Tiptree, Olu Coker, was upended in the area but Richardson's spot kick was saved by keeper Will Puddy, formerly an Iron loan signing when at Bristol Rovers, low down to his right.
Two minutes past the hour and it was the hard working Coker who grabbed the equaliser when he turned his marker inside the area to fire the ball low into the net past Puddy.
As the Iron continued to dominate the game again chances were wasted but on 82 minutes, Alfie Cerulli, on for Richardson, kept chasing the ball into the home penalty box forcing defenders to panic and his persistence paid off as he forced the ball home from close range, much to the gratitude of the Iron contingent of supporters in the 468 crowd.
The Iron kept up the pressure in normal time with both Cole and Femi Akinwanda twice each going close but it took that last-gasp save from Johnson to see the Iron home and dry with all three points that pushes them up level with the play-off places in the table.
Iron manager Glen Driver admitted he had read the riot act to his players at half time adding: "We weren't quick enough at time, needed to shift the ball quicker, with better passing and putting them under constant pressure.
"The second half was so much better and we completely dominated the game and had we scored that penalty I think we would have gone on quite easily and scored more goals," he explained. "It was a good and well deserved win but as always I am more concerned as to the way we play throughout the whole match."
Iron, who lost defender Harry Osbourne on the morning of the game because his wife had a baby and he was replaced by Ollie Saunders, know they have to show more consistency in attack to score more goals adding: "Defensively we looked strong and likewise in midfield we were able to control the game but we must put chances away to win such games more comfortably."
Braintree Town: Johnson, Urquhart, Clark, Hutchings, Saunders; Banton (85 Bonnett-Johnson), Cole, Christian-Law, Coker (78 Harvey); Richardson (78 Cerulli), Akinwanda. Unused subs: Barker, Manesio. Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis. Attendance 468.
Next up for the Iron is an away match at Concord Rangers on Tuesday, kick off 7 45pm.
Match Preview - Saturday 31 August 2019
National League South - Chippenham Town v Braintree Town
In 2018/19, Chippenham Town finished 13th in the National League South. They are currently 13th on nine points. Overall record 2018/19: P 42 W 16 D7 L 19 F 57 A 64 Points 55. Home 2018/19: P 21 W 10 D 4 L 7 F 34 A 28 Points 34, Home record this season: Won 1-0 v Weymouth, Won 2-0 v Billericay Town, Drew 1-1 v Oxford C. Top scorers (2018/19): Nat Jarvis - 21, Karnell Chambers - 11, Nick McCootie - 9. Scorers 2019/20: Rhys Tyler, Luke Hopper, Nat Jarvis, David Pratt & Chris Zebroski - 1. Form this season: DDWLDWL
Braintree Town are currently 12th in the Vanarama National League on 9 points. Away record this season: Lost 2-1 v Dartford, Won - 0-3 v St Albans City, Lost 2-0 v Bath City, Scorers: 2019/20: Femi Akinwande - 4, Tom Richardson & Adam Mills - 3, Jason Banton - 2, Michael Clark - 1. Form this season: LLLWWLW. Connections: Goalkeeper Will Puddy was on loan at Cressing Road from Bristol Rovers in 2016. Former player Tyrone Mings now at Aston Villa was this week called up into the England squad.
Our last meeting at Hardenhuish Park was on 13 January 2018, the game ending in a one-one draw. In the first minute a Chippenham throw in on the halfway line was volleyed infield by Muleba straight to a blue shirt. The ball was headed forward and then passed first time onto Jackson who shot high into the top corner of the goal from the edge of the area. The equaliser came in the tenth minute, a long ball from halfway inside the Iron half was allowed to bounce and with two Chippenham defenders leaving it to each other; Reece Grant nipped in and rounded the keeper and scored into an unguarded net. It's been a hectic start to the season with this being the eighth game of the month. Braintree have yet to draw, whilst our opponents fixtures have yielded no more than two goals a game. There are a few familiar names in Town's front line to test the Iron rear- guard. With the Iron's last four games yielding sixteen goals, will it be attack or defence coming out on top in Wiltshire?
Talking to Tom Richardson
about Glen and the style he plays
DOB: 6/10/93 (25) Born: Rush Green, Romford
Career History: Romford, Brentwood, Brightlingsea, East Thurrock United, Aveley
Q. Do you have another job?
A. Yes, I'm a construction manager
Q. Who do you support?
A. Manchester City
Q. Favourite current player?
Likes: Music - R&B, House
Food - Chinese
TV/Film - Queen of the South on Netflix
Social Media: Twitter
Q. What are your interests outside of football?
Q. Tell me about your career to date, the highlights
A. I was 16 when I first played for Romford, started out in centre midfield, then a winger. At Brentwood I started playing up front. I was promoted with them via the play- offs. Then I won the League with Brightlingsea. I scored a hat trick for East Thurrock United in a FA Trophy game against Colchester United.
Q. Best goal scored?
A. Last year playing against Tooting & Mitcham, I lobbed the keeper from 35/40 yards.
Q. How did you come to be at Braintree?
A. I knew Glen from my time at Brightlingsea, I almost joined him at Leiston, but the travelling was too much.
Q. How have you settled in, who are you bonding with?
A. It's one of those squads where everyone bonds with everyone. I drive up with Harry Osborne so spend more time with him.
Q. You are striking up a pairing with Femi Akinwande, what are your strengths, how do you complement each other, will you outscore him?
A. We both like scoring, both had assists for each other and we're very similar players. If one of us drops the other goes long, it's becoming a natural part of our game. I'll be happy if we both get 15/20 goals.
Q. Do you have/set yourself a goal target, what would you be happy with?
A. I'd like to get 20, my best season was at Brightlingsea where I scored 27-8.
Q. Who has been the best coach/manager you've worked with?
A. Glen for the style he plays. Paul Martin at Romford for making me a striker and I've never looked back.
Q. Who has been your most difficult opponent?
A. Joe Ellul - we always have a good battle and he's a good mate.
Q. How does training here compare to what you've done before?
A. It's another level, a step higher, the quality is better.
Q. Who is the best marker in training?
A. Hutch - Jake Hutchings
Q. Who is the joker in the pack?
A. There's a few who think they are, Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Michael Clark, Josh Urquhart.
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
A. Definitely top half, pushing for play-offs.
Femi breaks Dorking hearts
Iron sizzle late on in the holiday heat
It took a last gasp strike from the workaholic striker Femi Akinwande four minutes into added stoppage time to ensure Iron won the first ever encounter between the two sides in searing August Bank Holiday Monday temperatures.
Just when it looked as if the outcome would be a draw in what had been a understandingly scrappy second half in the heat, Iron's never-say-die striker latched on to a through ball into the visitors' area and, holding off two strong challengers from defenders, twisted and turned both of them before firing in a low shot in the far bottom corner beating Dorking Wanderers keeper Ryan Sandford.
It was no more than the 23 year-old deserved for his sterling work throughout the afternoon having come close on 27 minutes from the opening goal forcing Sandford to tip his fierce shot over the bar.
On 36 minutes he was involved in creating the opening goal for Jason Banton who fired home from close range but the lead lasted only five minutes when a right wing cross into the Iron area was slotted home by the unmarked by Elliott Buchanan.
Both sides had further first half chances but it was home keeper Michael Johnson who kept the scores level when, on 44 minutes, he pulled off a great save from Matt Briggs.
The second half started disastrously for Iron when two minutes after the restart defender Michael Clark gave the ball away just inside the Iron half allowing the ball to be swept straight out to Tom Richards who drove the ball into the home net.
Undeterred Iron fought back and both Banton and Akinwande went close before, on the hour, Iron equalised when a ball up front was well held up by Tom Richardson who played into the path of Tyler Christian-Law to brilliantly slide the ball past the stranded Sandford.
With all substitutes on for both sides, play became a little frantic but, in the latter stages of the game, it was Iron who always looked as if they could snatch a late winner as they pressurised the visiting defence.
Deep into stoppage time up popped Akinwande again showing his pace and strength to bypass those two defenders before sending in a low low past Sandford for the winner sending home fans in the holiday crowd in raptures.
"I just knew that if we could keep pressing hard on their defence, who clearly looked tired at this stage of the game, we might be able to grab a winner," said Akinwande afterwards. "Thankfully I was able to hold off defenders and get that ball into the net - it was glorious!
"I had hoped we could have a few more minutes then I could have perhaps scored again and made it a hat-trick day for me but the win was great for all the team," he added.
Manager Glen Driver praised his side for never giving up adding: "It showed what tremendous character we have in the side and in particularly when we went behind. Well done I say to the players but, again, we must stop giving silly goals away which could have again cost us dearly."
Braintree Town: Johnson, Osbourne, Urquhart, Christian-Law (Bonnett-Johnson 88), Hutchings, Clark, Cole, Banton (Barker 79), Richardson (Cerulli 79), Akinwande, Mills. Subs not used: Gipson, Harvey. Referee: Callum Walchester. Attendance: 444.
Next up for Braintree is a trip to Chippenham Town this coming Saturday, 31st August, with kick-off at 3pm.
Match Preview - Vanarama South
Monday 26 August 2019 - Braintree Town v Dorking Wanderers
Last season, Dorking Wanderers finished 1st in the Isthmian League Premier Division. Their overall record last season was: P 42 W 28 D 9 L5 F 87 A 32 Points 93. Their away record last season was P 21 W 12 D 7 L 2 F 29 A 13 Points 43. Top scorers last season: Jason Prior - 21, Elliott Buchanan - 17. Scorers 2019/20 - Jason Prior - 4, James McShane - 2, Eliot Buchanan & Matt Briggs - 1. They currently sit 9th in the National League South on 10 points. Away results this season: Drew 1-1 v St Albans City, Lost 0-6 v Havant & Waterlooville, Won 0-1 v Slough Town, This season form: WWWLDL
Braintree Town are currently 14th on 6 points. Braintree Town home results this season: Won 5-0 v Eastbourne Borough,Lost 0-4 v Wealdstone, Lost 2-3 v Billericay Town. This season form: LLLWWL. Scorers 2019/20 - Tom Richardson, Femi Akinwande & Adam Mills - 3, Michael Clark & Jason Banton - 1.
Dorking Wanderers were only formed in 1999 by founder, Chairman and manager Marc White; he has overseen 13 promotions in 19 seasons. Last season's top scorer Jason Prior is the man to watch having also been the top scorer at Havant & Waterlooville with 26 goals in their 2017/18 promotion campaign from this League. The Wanderers made a bright start to the season with three straight wins, but were then brought crashing down to earth at Havant & Waterlooville with a 6-0 defeat. Both teams lost their Saturday games so an intriguing encounter waits this first ever meeting between the two clubs.
10 men let lead slip at Dartford
Ahead early on, Iron second best after the break
Iron went down to a late winning goal at Dartford's Prince's Park on Saturday which left manager Glen Driver disappointed by the way his players let their standards slip for the second half, having dominated the first forty-five minutes with attractive football that saw them outplay their hosts.
"We scored early after three minutes and controlled the game from then onwards but we needed that second goal before the interval," he said. "We had chances too but instead we gave away a poor equaliser three minutes before the break while in the second half we lost our way.
"In truth we were poor in the second half and didn't deserve anything and the players only have themselves to blame - it was bad and I have told them so," he continued. "It was unacceptable - we stopped passing the ball, stopped chasing and closing them down and simply allowed them to run at us - there can be no excuse for that to happen."
But for Iron keeper Michael Johnson saving a 30th minute penalty from Luke Wanadio after Jake Hutchings had handled in the area and the custodian pulling off a remarkable one-handed save, tipping the ball over the bar with his fingers on 75 minutes, the home side would have won by a bigger margin.
The Iron had a great start with good movement upfield leaving Femi Akinwande to cut in from the right firing a great low shot into the home net off the foot of the far post.
They should have added to their tally and on 35 minutes were denied a penalty when Tom Richardson was clearly hauled down in the home area but referee Steven Hughes ran away from the incident.
The Iron conceded the equaliser when a long throw in from the right wing on 42 minutes rebounded straight to ex-Iron midfielder Luke Allen who headed the ball past Johnson from close range.
Having dominated the first half the Iron went to pieces after the interval with the midfield struggling as the home put great pressure on the back four.
Their cause was not helped on 70 minutes when Adam Mills was shown a straight red card for retaliation even though the referee had given the Iron a free-kick for a foul.
With their backs to the wall it was only a matter of time when the home side would score and that came in the 87th minute when a high right wing cross to the Iron's far post was headed in by the unmarked substitute Norman Wabo.
It was a poor goal to concede but what the home side deserved for their second half fight back with Iron players left to contemplate where it went wrong after such a promising first 45 minutes.
Braintree Town: Johnson; Osborne, Saunders, Clark, Hutchings; Manesio (66 Bonnett-Johnson), Cole, Banton (75 Harvey), Mills; Richardson (86 Cerulli), Akinwande. Unused subs: Gipson, Barker. Attendance: 874.
Next up for the Iron is home game against Dorking Wanderers on Bank Holiday Monday, kick off 3pm.
Match Preview - Saturday 24 August 2019
Vanarama National League South - Dartford v Braintree Town
In 2018/19, Dartford finished 10th in the Vanarama National League South. They are currently 21st on 2 points. Overall record 2018/19: P 42 W 18 D 10 L 14 F 52 A 58 Points 64. Home 2018/19: P 21 W 12 D 6 L 3 F 32 A 21 Points 42. Last 4 home: 2019/20 Drew 1-1 v Havant & Waterlooville, Drew 1-1 v St Albans City, 2018/19 Won 2-1 v Billericay Town, Lost 0-1 v Chippenham Town. Top scorers (2018/19): Charlie Sheringham - 12, Elliot Bradbrook - 9, Phil Roberts - 8. Scorers 2019/20: Adam Cunnington - 2, Luke Wanadio & Norman Wabo - 1
Form this season: LDDLL.
Braintree Town are currently 12th in the Vanarama National League on 6 points. 2018/19 Away: P 23 W 5 D 5 L 13 F 23 A 34 Pts 20. Last 4 away: 2019/20 Won 0-3 v St Albans City, Lost 2-0 v Bath City, (2018/19): Drew 0-0 v Leyton Orient, Won 0-2 v Maidstone United. Scorers: 2019/20: Tom Richardson & Adam Mills - 3, Femi Akinwande - 2, Michael Clark & Jason Banton - 1. Form this season: LLLWW.
Connections: Josh Hill, Luke Allen who were part of our successful 2017/18 squad and last season loanee from Southend United, Norman Wabo now ply their trade at Princes Park.
Our last visit to Dartford in the League was on 23 December 2017 with both sides claiming a point each in a 1-1 draw. Braintree had the better of the early chances coming close on a couple of occasions, but it was the hosts who went ahead in the seventeenth minute. Their left winger raced past three defenders before crossing low to Pugh who swept the ball home from 7 yards. The equaliser came just before half time, Ricky Gabriel overlapping down he left, crossed low from the by-line and Marcel Barrington was on hand to drive the ball home from close range at the far post.
The two sides met again in May 2018 in the play-off semi-final, Billy Crook scoring the only goal of the game.
What a difference a week makes for Glen's new look squad. Pointless after three games, followed by eight goals and two clean sheets in the next two games. Dartford meanwhile have had three heavy defeats away from home and two one all draws at Princes Park.
It will a buoyant team and hopeful fans crossing the Thames this Saturday.
Talking to Michael Johnson
I feel I'm ready now to play at this level
DOB: 28/10/93 (25) Born: Stevenage
Football career: Stotfold, Hitchin Town, Biggleswade Town (Loan),
Q. Do you have another job?
A. Yes, I work in finance in London
Q. Who do you support?
Q. Who is your favourite current player?
A. Mo Salah
Likes: Music - R&B, hip-hop anything with a good beat
Food - Pizza
TV/Film - action movies like Taken
Social Media - Instagram, Twitter and Facebook
Interests outside football - American football, rugby
Q. Growing up were you always a goalkeeper?
A. No I used to play centre midfield. I was 14 when I first oll game and we had no keeper. The referee was impressed with me and got me training at Luton for 6 months.
Q. Tell me about your career, how you got started, highs and lows
A. Started at 17 with Stotfold U18s, went to Hitchin where I was on the bench a lot behind an experienced keeper. Then I played reserve team football for a couple of years, before progressing to the first team. I didn't do well and ended up going out on loan. When I came back, I took my chance and had 4 good years there. Lowlight was a very wt night against Weymouth, lost 3-0 I let a high hanging cross through my hands and it went in. Highlight was a play-off semi-final against Merstham where I was awarded man of the match.
Q. Which manager/coach has had the most influence on you?
A. A goalkeeping coach - Richard Wilmott who used to play for Stevenage. He was like a father figure to me, especially when things weren't going well for me.
Q. How did you come to be at Braintree?
A. My agent gave me a call asked if I fancied coming here. Glen called me and I had a good feeling about it.
Q. What challenges do you think you will face at this level?
A. It's the highest level I've ever played at. I'm constantly challenging myself working hard week in week out at the lower steps down, but I feel I'm ready now to play at this level.
Q. What differences have you noticed at this level so far?
A. There is more structure to the teams we've played. They stick to their game plan. At Bath they changed their tactics in the second half. It's a quicker game and we're now beginning to adapt.
Q. Who are the best players you've played with against?
A. Former Luton player Matt Spring at Hitchin, he was good on the ball and great for the young boys there. Against - Barry Hales, despite his age, he was big and strong. Isaac Vassell now at Cardiff, he was fast and strong too and Giovanni Brown who's recently signed for Colchester.
Q. At what level do you think you can play?
A. I watch football on TV and see keepers making mistakes I don't think I would make. League Two I think I could play in, anything higher would be a bonus.
Q. If you are sent off or injured during a match, who will go in goal?
A. Don't know, we've not really discussed it. Maybe Jake Hutchings, his knee needs a rst so he can stand still for a bit.
Q. Which Braintree player is the best finisher?
A. Tom Richardson, the rest need to work on it.
Q. Which Braintree player has the hardest shot?
A. Femi Akinwande, when he catches it right and not out of the ground!
Q. Where will Braintree finish?
A. A top ten finish would be unbelievable.
Five goal Iron up to mid-table
Second successive win for Iron
Continuing where they left off in midweek winning comprehensively at St Albans, Iron completed a successful week by hammering their Sussex coast visitors at Cressing Road on Saturday to prove any doubters of their true potential this season.
Such were Iron dominant, particularly in the second half, the only surprise for home fans was that in the end the winning margin wasn't even bigger because they scorned several decent chances in that second period.
It meant though that for the Iron it made two successive wins and cleansheets within the space of five days moving them further up the table as manager Glen Driver continues to develop his side having started just eight weeks ago.
Making one change from that midweek victory - Jason Banton coming for Charley Barker who dropped to the bench - Iron were denied two clearcut penalties with Tom Richardson being bundled over in the first half and late on in the second half Richardson squared the ball to Femi Akinwande who was sent flying on his face in the visitors' area by Manny Adevowale but referee Dale Wootton ignored.
Despite missing several chances during the game overall it was an easy win for the home side who took the lead with a powerful Adam Mills shot on 27 minutes and five minutes later Richardson converted after tremendous work down the left by Akinwande and they could have had two more goals before the break.
Hard though the visitors tried to get back into the game on the rare occasion they threatened home keeper Michael Johnson pulled off two fine saves before in the 65th minute Iron made the game safe when Banton moved forward from the centre circle running through unchecked before unleashing a 30-yard shot into the far corner of the net giving keeper Tom Hadler no chance.
On 81 minutes man of the match Mills added his second and his side's fourth with a slide rule shot on goal after Akinwande again had done all the hard work down the right wing and in the final minute Richardson put pressure on keeper Hadler and the ball fell to Akinwande who scores the goal he deserved on the day and so sealed a comfortable win for Iron.
Manager Glen Driver said he was delighted the way his side continue to adapt themselves to one another and their work rate and commitment was excellent adding: "I felt we wasted chances in the first half but in the second half we were outstanding.
"Incredible to think that eight weeks ago I didn't have a team but now we have a nucleus and can build on from here," he declared. "You get lows and highs in football and today it's certainly a high and the boys deserve it."
Braintree Town: (3-5-2):Johnson; Urquhart, Saunders, Clark, Hutchings; Manesio, Cole (84 Gipson,) Banton (66 Tyler Christian-Law), Mills (82 Trey Charles), Richardson, Akinwande. Subs unused: Barker, Bonnett-Johnson. Attendance: 356. Referee Dale Wooton.
Next up for Iron is the short to play at Dartford next Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Match Preview - Vanarama South
Saturday 17 August 2019 - Braintree Town v Eastbourne Borough
Last season, Eastbourne Borough finished 18th in the Vanarama National League South; they currently sit 12th on 5 points. Their overall record last season was: P 42 W 10 D 12 L 20 F52 A 65 Points 42. Their away record last season was P 21 W 4 D 6 L 11 F 19 A 31 Points 18. Top scorers last season: Charlie Walker - 11, Dean Cox 8, Ryan Hall - 7. Scorers 2019/20 - Nick Wheeler, Greg Luer & Kristian Campbell - 1. Last 4 away results 2019/20 Drew 0-0 v Maidstone United, Lost 1-0 v Billericay Town, (2018/19): Drew 1-1 v Slough Town, Lost 2-0 v Torquay United. This season form: LWDD
Braintree Town are currently 16th on 3 points. Braintree Town home record last season: P 23 W 6 D 3 L 14 F 25 A 44 Points 21. Braintree Town last 4 home results 2019/20: Lost 0-4 v Wealdstone, Lost 2-3 v Billericay Town, (2018/19): Won 2-0 v Dagenham & Redbridge, Won 2-1 v AFC Fylde. This season form: LLLW. Scorers 2019/20 - Tom Richardson - 2, Adam Mills, Femi Akinwande & Michael Clark - 1. Connections: Ian Gayle signed for Borough in the summer after spells at Welling, Wealdstone and Woking. Last meeting at Cressing Road: 9th December 2017 Braintree Town 3 Eastbourne Borough 2
In an entertaining game it was the visitors who took the lead in the 13th minute. A long punt downfield by the keeper was won in the air on the edge of the box by Dawes, he then chested the ball down before escaping his markers and fired across goal where Shaun Okojie slid the ball home from six yards. The equaliser came from top scorer Phil Roberts on 36 minutes. A deep Billy Crook corner was only partially cleared, straight to Roberts on the edge of the penalty area and his low drive went through a crowd of bodies and the keeper's grasp. Just past the hour, Roberts put the Iron ahead. A free kick taken by Crook half way inside the visitor's half was played high to the back post, Okoye rose highest to head the ball back across goal and leave Roberts a simple headed finish from close range. Borough were level on 75 minutes, a deep cross from Mills was won in the air on the edge of the box by Okojie and his knock down was swept across goal by Kiran Khinda-John. It took only two minutes for Braintree to re-take the lead. Roberts sent Roman Michael-Percil scampering away down the right, the diminutive winger outpacing his marker only to be pushed in the back for a penalty to be awarded. Billy Crook stepped up and converted to the right with the keeper going the wrong way.
Eastbourne Borough are another club under new management with Lee Bradbury taking charge in May this year a few weeks after his Havant and Waterlooville side were relegated alongside Braintree. With Braintree having recorded their first win of the season at St Albans on Tuesday evening, the boys will be hoping to make it a third consecutive blank on the road for the visitors, whilst seeing a blossoming partnership between Richardson and Akinwande put the Sports to the sword.
Talking to Jake Hutchings
all about having Raheem Sterling in his back pocket!
DOB: 20/12/95 (23) Born: London. Position: Centre Back
Career history: Leyton Orient U18, Torquay United U18 & 1st team, Grays Athletic (Loan), Weymouth FC (Loan), Frome Town (Loan), Hearts FC U20, Enfield Town, Frome Town, Grays Athletic, Wingate FC, Grays Athletic, Leiston, Merstham, Wingate FC, Merstham
Q. Do you have another job?
A. Yes. I'm a Site Manager in building works.
Q. Who do you support?
A. Tottenham Hotspur
Q Who is your favourite current player?
A. Lionel Messi
Likes: Music - I like all sorts, go with the flow
Food - Italian, a good steak
Film/TV - Love Island
Social Media - Twitter and Instagram
Q. It's fair to say you've done quite a lot of travelling since leaving Orient in 2013, talk me through some of those moves
A. Martin Ling was my manager at Orient, when he took the Torquay job, he took me with him, I had a good 3 years there. Then Torquay had a change of manager and I had 6 months left on my contract, my agent spoke to Craig Levein at Hearts. The first time I played nom-league was at Enfield. Brad Quinton was the manager there. I ended up back at Frome (but was training at Grays) as I'd done well for them on loan, but I was travelling from North London and it was getting too much. I then played around London and then met Glen at Leiston, 3 of us, including Ade Cole used to travel together. I had a 2 year contract but did my anterior cruciate ligament playing for Merstham, but in my second spell, we made the play-off final.
Q. At which club did you have your happiest times/career highlights?
A. The play-off final at Merstham and I made the squad a few times at Hearts when they won the Championship.
Q. Which coach or managers have had the biggest impact on your career?
A. As a player, Robbie Nielson at Hearts. He was a legend up there. He had very good man management skills, helped me to settle in and looked after me. In training if you wanted to stay behind and do more, he would take the time to do one to one with you.
Q. Which have been the best/worst grounds you've played at?
A. Best - Ibrox, there was a big rivalry at my time at Hearts with Rangers, Hibs and Celtic all battling it out. Worst is probably Alfreton in my Torquay days.
Q. Who have been the best players you've played with or against?
A. I once played against Raheem Sterling in a reserve game for Torquay against QPR, not long after that he got his move to Liverpool. The best I played with is probably Callum Paterson at Hearts, a Scottish international who is now at Cardiff City.
Q. What is the highest level you've played at, what is your aim longer term?
A. Scottish Premier League. I'd like to get back in to full time football again having now had 4 years of non-league football. I just want to play as high as I can.
Q. What attracted you to come and play for Braintree?
A. My relationship with Glen. I knew a bit about the club because of Brad and having played with the likes of Ricky Gabriel, Nathan McDonald, Mark Okoye and Billy Crook and following them on Twitter.
Q. You've been made captain, what do you bring to that role?
A. I've only been vice captain before, but playing under Glen, I can relay messages he wants. He knows what he'll get from me and I'm one of the most experienced.
Q. How difficult is it playing with virtually a new squad, have you experienced anything like it before?
A. No, not a complete squad. It was difficult pre-season as I never played with the same centre back and therefore couldn't form any sort of partnership. Now with Josh(Urquhart) and Michael (Clark) we can get settled and become more solid.
Q. There's also been a change of formation since pre-season with 3 centre backs and a change in style where we haven't constantly played out from the back; how has that come about?
A. We've played a formation that we thought would do well against Bath, playing 4-3-3 would have been to open. In pre-season it didn't matter about the results, so we tried to play out from the back. What we do now is play that way when it's appropriate.
Q. Do you know any of the lads from previous clubs, who have you bonded with?
A. Yes, Ade Cole from our time together at Leiston and Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Harry Osborne at Merstham.
Q. Two games in and no points on the board, how do you assess those first two games?
A. We've been close. Bath we conceded two unbelievable strikes. Billericay' it's been about fine margins, we were unlucky with the penalty awarded against us and with my miss-kick, I popped my toe as I landed just before I tried to clear it. They are also two big hitters in this League.
Q. Which player is the hardest to mark in training?
A. Jason Banton, he's very skilful.
Q. Where do you think Braintree will finish?
A. In and around the play-offs.
The Vanarama First Four - the Iron are off and underway and there's more to come!
Glen Driver: "Thank you to the Braintree supporters"
League sponsors Vanarama
So, the story so far . . .
How one result can change the outlook. It appeared a long season ahead after three defeats from three but a stunning 3-0 win at St Albans has people thinking again!
From the dugout . . .
Glen Driver dedicated his first win in charge to the fans, saying: "Thank you to the Braintree supporters, that win was for you. It's been a tough start for us but I'm proud of the players and to get my first win as manager of this great club."
Biggest result so far . . .
No question about it. Tuesday's convincing victory at Clarence Park could just prove to be the turning point.
Stat attack . . .
League position: 16th
Home goals for: 2
Away goals for: 3
Home goals against: 7
Away goals against: 2
What the supporters say . . .
Twitter was a happy place to be for the Iron faithful after that win in midweek.
"Quality performance and showed what this club is all about with entertaining football," wrote @Gaz1993
"Great away performance and something to build on" posted @Gavla69, while @barker69james added: "Onwards and upwards!"
Next up . . .
It's Eastbourne Borough at home on Saturday. The Sports have a five-point start and appear to be tough to beat.
Their one to watch . . .
Sergio Torres is always the man who makes things happen in the middle of the park.
We've met before . . .
The teams certainly have - and it's Braintree fans with the happy memories. In 2017, the Irons grabbed a 3-2 win both home and away against Eastbourne. Back in 2016, the Essex club put seven goals past them without reply!
League sponsors Vanarama
For the latest van leasing deals head to Vanarama
For the latest car leasing deals head to Motorama
The National League, Registered Office - 4th Floor, Waterloo House, 20 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5TB. Registered No: 3364308. Tel: 0121 643 3143.
Iron score three without reply
Driver: "Great to get that monkey off our backs"
Iron travelled to Clarence Park on Tuesday night in search of their first points of the season after three successive defeats. Manager Glen Driver made two changes to the starting line-up, with Adam Mills and Charley Barker coming in to replace Rob Harvey and Sean Bonnett-Johnson.
On a pleasant summer evening Iron started brightly. Ade Cole fired across the face of the goal early on. Five minutes later Mills raced through and looked certain to score, but Snedker reacted well in the home goal to save.
Mills was a constant thorn in the home team's side, and it was inevitably him that struck the opening blow. He twisted on the edge of the penalty area and fired high into the top corner of the net. Iron fans were still celebrating when just 90 seconds later their team struck again. This time it was the industrious Femi Akinwande who scored after bustling into the area down the right and firing in at the near post.
The visitors were good value for their half time lead but anticipated renewed effort from the hosts in the second half. Sure enough, St. Albans were very quickly out of the blocks and Iaciofano tested Johnson from 25 yards. Further chances came and went, with Iron digging deep. A deflected shot from Cole on 57 minutes was a rare moment of relief.
The closest scare came with 15 minutes to go. Hearts were in mouths as an almighty goalmouth scramble ensued. Josh Urquhart was on hand to desperately clear off the line.
With one minute left on the clock Michael Clark made the game safe for Iron. Substitute Alfie Cerulli broke forward with pace and shot from the edge of the box. His effort could not be held by Snedker and Clark was on hand to steer the rebound home.
It was the best possible way for the team to respond after the disappointing performance at the weekend against Wealdstone, and the team are up 6 places to 16th.
After the game Manager Glen Driver was pleased: "Great to get that monkey off our backs with our first points of the season. I changed it a little for tonight and I felt we looked compact and solid. Proud of the lads and I'm delighted with all three goals and for the fans who have seen a positive response to last Saturday. Looking ahead he added: "As a group we still have a lot of work to do, but our performance was encouraging. We'll build on this and we're already looking forward to Eastbourne on Saturday for what will be another tough test for us all." Team: Johnson, Urquhart, Saunders, Manesio, Clark, Hutchings, Cole, Barker (73m Bonnett-Johnson), Richardson (82m Cerulli), Akinwande (79m Harvey), A. Mills. Unused subs: Gipson, Charles. Attendance: 396.
Next up for the Iron is the visit of Eastbourne Borough this coming Saturday, 17th August, with kick off at 3pm.
Match Preview - Tuesday 13 August 2019
Vanarama National League South - St Albans City v Braintree Town
Last season St Albans City finished 9th in the Vanarama National League South. They are currently 16th on 2 points. Overall record: P 42 W 18 D 10 L 14 F 67 A 64 Points 64. Home: P 21 W 12 D 4 L 5 F 34 A 26 Points 40. Last 4 home: 2019/20 Drew 1-1 v Chippenham Town, (2018/19) Lost 0-4 v Torquay United, Won 2-1 v East Thurrock United, Won 3-1 v Chelmsford City. Top scorers (2018/19): David Moyo - 15, Ralston Gabriel - 12, Sam Merson - 9. Scorers 2019/20: Joe Iaciofano - 2. Form this season: DDL.
Braintree Town are currently 24th in the Vanarama National League with no points. 2018/19 Away: P 23 W 5 D 5 L 13 F 23 A 34 Pts 20. Last 4 away: 2019/20 Lost 2-0 v Bath City, (2018/19): Drew 0-0 v Leyton Orient, Won 0-2 v Maidstone United, Lost 3-1 v Wrexham. Scorers: 2019/20: Tom Richardson - 2. Form this season: LLL. Connections: Former Iron players Scott Shulton and Taylor Miles are now at City. Michael Clark played for City last season.
Our last visit to St Albans was on 2 April 2018 with the home side claiming a 2-1 victory. Josh Hill opened the scoring in the second minute. A free kick taken by Muleba in the centre circle found its way to Hill on the left corner of the penalty area and he placed a curling right footed shot off the far post and in. St Albans hit back in the second half with two Sam Merson strikes, the first slotting home a low cross from a corner at the near post. The second came with five minutes to play. A deep cross was neatly laid off by his strike partner and he placed his shot low into the bottom left corner of the net from 16 yards.
City's top scorer last season, David Moyo departed for Hamilton Academicals in the summer. He has been replaced by current top scorer Joe Iaciofano from Northampton Town. He is joined up front by much travelled striker Rhys Murrell-Williamson for whom this is his second spell at Clarence Park.
Neither side have been able to record a win in their opening three fixtures and will want to put that right. It's an early opportunity for the new Iron side to put things right following Saturday's disappointing result.
Too many basic mistakes for Iron
Driver: "It was a really disappointing performance"
Iron boss Glen Driver, like his team, were given a rude awakening by Wealdstone at Cressing Road on Saturday as they were simply on the end of a heavy four-goal defeat.
Apart from a bright, fifteen minutes spell just after half time Iron were second best for most of the match with a defence making many basic mistakes, a midfield on the day that could not impose themselves and two potentially goal-scorers up front starved of any genuine service.
Iron fans knew it was going to be a tough start playing three sides that did well last season to start their campaign but what will disappoint fans is that after an impressive display against Billericay Town in midweek, their side could follow that with a lack lustre, mistaken ridden performance.
But for some fine first half saves by home keeper Michael Johnson, Iron could easily have been three goals behind at the interval as they lacked cohesion or organisation throughout the side.
The visitors took the lead on 20 minutes when a sweeping, low left wing cross was turned into his own net by Ollie Saunders as he tried to clear the ball while up at the other end little was seen of the Iron attack against a vastly experienced visitors' rearguard.
Alfie Cerulli came on at half time for Ade Cole and Iron began to play some football. For a short period it looked as if they might get back into the game with Tom Richardson and Femi Akinwande working hard up front but missing the target or seeing efforts blocked.
After that bright spell it went from bad to worse for Iron as the visitors took a grip of the game and they scored their second goal on 73 minutes through Danny Green who waltzed around three flat-footed Iron defenders to slip the ball past the exposed Johnson.
The visitors kept pressing hard and soon added to their goal tally with Green again finding the net on 83 minutes and Billy Clifford firing home his side's fourth on 87 minutes which was a fair reflection on day.
So plenty of thinking for manager Driver who said: "It was a really disappointing performance where again we created our own downfall by making so many individual mistakes and you can't afford to that at our level. We've clearly plenty of work to do and I am confident we will make progress."
Braintree Town: Johnson; Harvety, Saunders, Urquahart, Clark; Hutchings, Cole (45 Cerulli), Bonnet-Johnson, Manesio (73 Mills); Richardson, Akinwande. Unused subs: Gipson, Folarin, Barker. Attendance: 428
Next up for the Iron is a trip to St Albans City this coming Tuesday, 13th August, with kick off at 7.45pm.
Match Preview - Saturday 10 August 2019
Braintree Town v Wealdstone
Last season, Wealdstone finished 7th in the Vanarama National League South. In the play-offs they won 3-1 at Bath City before losing 3-2 to Woking in the semi-final. Their overall record last season was: P 42 W 18 D 12 L 12 F 62 A 50 Points 66. Their away record last season was P 21 W 9 D 7 L 5 F 31 A 19 Points 34. Top scorers last season: David Pratt - 12, Bradley Bubb - 8, Dan Green - 7. Scorers 2019/20 - Ross Lafayette - 2, Connor Stevens & Own goal - 1. Last 4 away results 2019/20 Lost 1-0 v Dulwich Hamlet, (2018/19): Won 0-3 v Chelmsford C, Lost 2-1 v Hampton & Richmond Borough, Lost 3-2 v Torquay United.
Braintree Town home record last season: P 23 W 6 D 3 L 14 F 25 A 44 Points 21. Braintree Town last 4 home results 2019/20 Lost 2-3 v Billericay Town, (2018/19): Won 2-0 v Dagenham & Redbridge, Won 2-1 v AFC Fylde, Won 2-0 v Gateshead. Scorers 2019/20 - Tom Richardson - 2. Connections: Former Iron left back, Jerome Okimo, has now made over 100 appearances in two spells for the Stones.
Like the Iron, Wealdstone are under new management after parting company with Bobby Wilkinson in May 2019. Taking over the reins is former Hemel Hempstead manager Dave Brennan. Signing from Billericay Town are Michee Efete, Billy Clifford, Connor Smith and Ross Lafayette. Other new signings include goalkeeper Aston Oxborough, Nick Arnold, Afolabi Coker, Jacob Mendy, Matthew Saunders, Michael Phillips, Dejon Noel-Williams and Sanchez Watt. Last meeting at Cressing Road: 10 March 2018 Braintree Town 2 Wealdstone 2. Iron held a two goal lead at half time courtesy of a Luke Allen strike from close range and a Billy Crook penalty after the keeper brought down Dan Thompson. Two goals in six second half minutes from Matt Whichelow, cutting in from the left and firing home from the edge of the box and a Dan Green penalty awarded when McDonald was judged to have tripped David Pratt saw the visitors take home a point. Wealdstone went down one nil to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday evening after an impressive opening day home victory over Dartford by four goals to one. Meanwhile, Braintree lost by the odd goal in five to neighbours Billericay Town on Tuesday. With no points on the board for Driver's new look team, he'll have the boys focused on changing that come Saturday evening.
Talking to Glen Driver
The club needs to build a foundation
DOB: 25/4/74 (45) Born: Ipswich
Q. What is your job?
A. I have my own business- FGH MotorHomes
Q. Who do you support?
A. Ipswich Town
Q. What are you likes -
Music - Barry White, Soul & Reggae
Food - Indian, Mexican, Chinese
TV/Film - Only Fools & Horses
Q. Which Social Media do you use?
A. Twitter and Instagram
Q. Tell me about your own playing career?
A. Didn't really start playing until I was 18 as I'd go to watch Ipswich. I played 5-a-side and junior football, scored lots of gaols but only played when Ipswich were away. I ended up at Needham Market, scored 39 for them. Then I gad trails at Norwich City, Ipswich Town, Peterborough United and Northampton Town. I had the opportunity to go to Sweden and play for Malmo who were managed by Frank Thijssen at the time, but turned it down, which I later regretted. I then met Tony Kinsella, scored a few for Harwich, then Witham where I netted 39 goals in 2 different seasons, playing off a target man, running in behind. I also played for Stanway. I had 3 seasons scoring 39 goals, missed a penalty in one of those seasons which would've given me the 40.
Q. Tell me about your career so far as a manager?
A. I went straight into management at 39 with Ipswich Exiles. I was then player manager at Leiston, took 5 years out, came back to manage Felixstowe and Walton. Had more time off before going back to Leiston at step 3.
Q. You have brought in Tony Kinsella as your assistant; tell me about your relationship with him and what he'll bring to the club.
A. He's like a brother to me, I have total trust in him and learned so much from him. He encourages me to be positive and believe in my playing philosophy. He keeps me and the players grounded and wants to see me do well. He'll run sessions that will mirror our game plan and help to bring attractive football to the club.
Q. The club has had 6 different managers over the last 4 seasons of ups and downs after a period of stability of management and squad under Alan Devonshire. What is your aim?
A. The club needs to build a foundation, it has no reserve side but has three different youth set ups. We need to promote players through the youth/reserve system. At Leiston we had U10, 12, 14, 16 & 18 sides in place bringing players through. We want to bring stability to the club. Previous managers may have been head hunted, or scared of the work needed to do here. Everyone needs to be patient while we put things into place. We've done it before at Felixstowe and Leiston
Q. How have you settled in at Braintree?
A. Settled in well, I've worked hard, looked at 45 players and agents are always wanting me to look at more. I've spoken to Premier and Championship clubs to bring in player that fit our philosophy.
Q. What have you made of our friendlies?
A. Newmarket and Coggeshall, too many players and changes, so didn't really learn much in those games. Against West Ham I thought that we passed the ball as well as they did and our fitness levels were good. Against Brentford, they were a strong team with 7 players who'd played in the Championship. We made too many mistakes but did continue to try and pass the ball.
Q. You come to Braintree with players leaving and an affordable budget, how do you put together a team from scratch, what size squad do you think you need/can attain?
A. I'm looking to have a squad of 16/17. I identify players who are new and want to play for us. I've known a lot of them from the Bostik Premier League. A lot of them want to play for me, they are hungry players who want to well and progress their careers. A lot of them are Suffolk based where we've previously had lads based around London.
Q. The players you have signed, are any on contracts, if not, we've seen before at this level the better players or those not getting picked regularly leave. How easy/difficult is it to build a strong team under those circumstances?
A. This is a club of opportunities and a shop window. Players come here knowing that there'll be scouts here, more radio and newspaper coverage. I would hope that if players are wanted by other clubs that they would sign a contract so they can reward the club that has given them that opportunity.
Q. You have so far brought in quite a lot of players from a lower level, does that reduce expectations on where we may finish?
A. No, not at all. What we lack in experience we make up for with hunger. At Leiston we played Billericay Town and beat them 4-1 because we were hungrier than them. They will have to work hard for the badge and to keep the shirt. The players want to do well and push on in their careers.
Q. The opening month of the season sees us play 8 games, 24 points up for grabs. How do you assess our opening fixtures?
A. I don't set points targets; we take each game as it comes. Whatever points tally we get, we will be where we deserve to be in the table. Some of those early games may be a good time to play them with lots of new players. We may on occasions need to be more cautious.
Q. You have said you're looking for the team to play out from the back and that you're not interested in a player's height or age. In recent seasons we've conceded many goals from set pieces and corners and found it hard to contain those teams with a target man, how can you counter that threat?
A. We will have ways and means of dealing with that. We do have players who are good in the air. Our goalkeeper is brave and will come for crosses and talks to those around him. If you look at Barcelona and Man City, they're not big sides, but you don't see them conceding many goals at corners and free kicks.
Q. Do you have a favoured formation, does/will the squad have the flexibility to adapt to different systems?
A. Football is about players not systems and our squad will be able to adapt to different positions and systems when required.
Q. Do you know who is to be captain, what are his qualities/what will he bring to the side?
A. Yes I know who my captain and vice-captain are. He'll be young, a talker, leader, hungry and demanding.
Q. What would you define as a successful season?
A. Fourth from bottom. But then I said the same thing in my time at Leiston where we finished 5th and 6th!
Iron impress despite defeat
Driver's work in progress showing positive signs
Iron were unlucky not to have earned at least a point from this clash at Cressing Road on Tuesday against Essex neighbours Billericay Town in what was an entertaining game for both sets of fans.
Despite taking the lead on 12 minutes with a Club debut headed goal for young striker Tom Richardson, the visitors equalised through a rather dubious penalty on 16 minutes scored by the experienced Matt Rhead.
With Iron playing all the attractive football going forward they, at times, severely tested the visitors' rearguard while young teenager Jayden Gipson, deputising for newly signed defender Josh Urquhart, had an excellent game in the heart of the Iron back-line.
For long periods, Iron looked the more comfortable side on the ball with the visitors playing the long, high ball up front to Rhead an arch exponent of holding it up and laying it off to team mates.
The more experienced visitors grabbed the lead on the hour through Moses Emmanuel but within two minutes Iron were level with a brilliant header from Richardson.
Both sides traded attacks in the latter stages of the game but it was the visitors who snatched what would turn out to be the winner on 70 minutes when defender Charlie Wassmer raced into the Iron box unmarked and headed home a right wing cross.
Undeterred, Iron again came back strongly and young substitute Charley Barker went close with a header that just dropped over the bar.
Despite a flurry of attacks by the Iron in time added on, that illusive equaliser never came but it was again another vastly improved performance from Iron which bodes well for the future.
Manager Glen Driver was full of praise for his team's 90 minutes of effort adding: "I felt we played all the football on the night and there are small margins in winning or losing but I thought we had done enough for a draw.
"We've done remarkably well to have put a team together from scratch in seven weeks and play so well against an expensively assembled experienced side," he continued. "But we do have to defend better because we gave them two goals when we should have done better.
"We also need to have more players going forward and scoring goals but it's something we are working on and we are making progress," he added. "It will take a little time but I felt we were better for the whole of the 90 minutes compared to Saturday's opening game when we only really competed in the first half."
Braintree Town: Johnson; Harvey, Saunders (76 Mills), Gipson, Clark,; Hutchings, Cole, Bonnet-Johnson (79 Cerulli), Banton (60 Barker); Richardspn, Akinwande. Unused subs: Clements, Folarin. Attendance: 868
Next up for the Iron is another home game this coming Saturday against Wealdstone, kick off 3pm.
Match Preview - Tuesday 6 August 2019
Braintree Town v Billericay Town
Last season, Billericay Town finished 8th in the Vanarama National League South. Their overall record last season was: P 42 W 19 D 8 L 15 F 72 A 65 Points 65. Their away record last season was P 21 W 9 D 5 L 7 F 40 A 32 Points 32. Top scorers last season: Moses Emmanuel - 25, Jake Robinson - 16 Adam Coombes - 13. Last 4 away results (2018/19): Lost 2-1 v Dartford, Won 1-4 v Gloucester City, Drew 2-2 v Dulwich Hamlet, Lost 2-1 v Slough Town.
Braintree Town home record last season: P 23 W 6 D 3 L 14 F 25 A 44 Points 21. Braintree T last 4 home results (2018/19): Won 2-0 v Dagenham & Redbridge, Won 2-1 v AFC Fylde, Won 2-0 v Gateshead, Lost 2-4 v Bromley.
Both sides had contrasting outcomes on the opening day of the 2019/20 season with Billericay Town winning one-nil in time added on at home to Eastbourne Borough, whilst Braintree went down to two early second half goals at Bath City. Our Essex neighbours have been busy in the summer enlisting new recruits after falling short of the play-offs last season. Amongst those new signings is former Lincoln City front man and well known to Braintree Town fans - Matt Rhead. They have also picked up Doug Loft a midfielder released by Shrewsbury Town, former Hemel skipper and top scoring midfielder Jordan Parkes, defenders Craig Robson, Gavin Gunning, Ronnie Henry, Ben Nunn and Charlie Wassmer. This will be a big test for Glen and the boys in the first Essex derby of the season. They should be encouraged by their first half performance at Bath where they had the better chances. Let's get behind the boys and help turn Cressing Road into a home fortress.
Iron can't match Bath second half
15 minute spell ended Iron hopes of a point.
A 15 minute spell at the start of the second half by home side Bath City, in which they scored two goals in three minutes ended Iron hopes of returning home from Twerton Park with a point on Saturday.
It was a disappointment too for new manager Glen Driver who had seen his entirely new team play well in the first half against the much fancied home side promotion candidates but conceding those two quick goals - from Tom Smith on 47 minutes and substitute Ross Stearn three minutes later - took the steam out of the Iron from which they never really recovered.
With two late central defender signings - Josh Urquhart from Billericay and the returning Michael Clark from St. Albans - Iron looked strong in defence and despite most of the players having not played together pre-season they put in a really creditable first half showing.
The Iron should have taken the lead on 15 minutes when a quickly taken free-kick by Urquhart in the centre circle saw the ball sail towards to the home goal where back-pedalling keeper Ryan Clarke just managed to get a hand on the ball pushing on to the crossbar.
The rebound fell kindly straight to the feet of the unmarked striker Tom Richardson but with a gaping goal in front of the youngster, he put the ball straight into the hands of Clarke and had he scored would have been a great early confidence booster for Iron.
After such a promising first half, Iron were caught cold when City changed format to 4-4-2 at half time and bringing on Stearn, their top scorer last season, who effectively took control of the midfield and set up several good home attacks while Iron's midfield, so dominant in the first period, lost their way.
Once two goals down and despite using all three substitutes to try and regain that first half initiative, Iron failed to make real impact on the home rearguard and it was City who ran out deserved winners on the day.
With a new team it will take players a while to gel and get to know one another and also play the way Driver and his coaching staff want Iron to perform. Despite the outcome, this was still a commendable performance bearing in mind a month ago Iron had few players signed.
"It was disappointing that after such a tremendous first half we never reached the same heights in the second half," Driver declared afterwards. "But with time and patience we will get better and even from this game there we can take many positives.
"Had we taken that clear first half scoring chance it would have been a different game and different outcome," he continued. "The midfield didn't work as hard and close down in the second half as they did in the first and it's something we have to instil in all the players that you have to do it for 90 minutes and not 45 minutes."
He added: "You can't afford to give players at this level time and space or you will get punished as we did in that second period. But it's work in progress and whilst the youngsters did well obviously we need to bring in a couple with the kind of experience that Josh and Michael have at this level because they make such a big difference at the back in this game."
Braintree Town: Johnson; Folarin (62 Mills), Urquhart, Clarke, Saunders; Hutchings, Bonnet-Johnson (64 Banton),Manesio, Cole; Richardson (64 Ceruli), Akinwande. Unused subs: Clements, Harvey. Attendance: 789.
Next up for the Iron is a home game against Billericay Town on Tuesday, kick off 7.45pm.
Match Preview - Saturday 3 August 2019
Vanarama National League South - Bath City v Braintree Town
In 2018/19 Bath City finished 5th in the Vanarama National League South. They made the play-offs losing 1-2 at home to Wealdstone. Overall record: P 42 W 20 D 11 L 11 F 58 A 36 Pts 71. Home: P 21 W 12 D 4 L 5 F 33 A 18 Pts 40. Last 4 home (2018/19): Won 1-0 v Oxford City, Lost 0-3 v St Albans City, Drew 1-1 v Woking, Drew 1-1 v Wealdstone. Top scorers (2018/19): Ross Stearn - 14, Ryan Brunt - 10, Adam Mann - 9. Their manager Jerry Gill was appointed in October 2017. He is an ex-player, playing for them 1990-96. Earlier in his career he played for Birmingham C for five seasons. City had the best defence with only 36 goals conceded all season.
In 2018/19 Braintree Town finished 23rd in the Vanarama National League. Overall record: P46 W11 D8 L27 F 48 A 78 Pts 38. Away: P 23 W 5 D 5 L 13 F 23 A 34 Pts 20. Last 4 away (2018/19): Drew 0-0 v Leyton Orient, Won 0-2 v Maidstone U, Lost 3-1 v Wrexham, Lost 2-1 v Solihull Moors. Top scorers: Mo Bettamer, Reece Grant - 6 Callum Morton, Korrey Henry - 5
Our last visit to Bath was on 21 October 2017 with the teams playing out a 1-1 draw. The home side were awarded a penalty in the second half after a push by Mark Okoye, but Nathan McDonald saved Jarvis's effort down to his left. George Rigg eventually gave the home side the lead on 79 minutes, shooting from distance, his shot appeared to catch the outstretched boot of Luke Allen and looped over McDonald. The Iron equalised 6 minutes later, Frimpong carrying the ball through centre midfield, he fed Bithmoutine on the left and his low cross was met 6 yards out by Oliyide. In stoppage time, goal scorer Rigg was shown a second yellow and given his marching orders for a foul on Roberts. After an unbeaten last month of the season, Iron manager Danny Searle was tempted away to take up the reins at a reprieved Aldershot Town. The Club has turned to former Leiston manager Glen Driver as the Iron attempt to bounce back to the National League for the second time in three seasons. It's a new season, in a new League with a new manager and new players, many of whom are stepping up the League hierarchy. It's a tough opening fixture for the young Iron squad in the Roman city of Bath; let's hope the boys make their own history.
Meet - Tony Kinsella
DOB: 30/10/61 (57) Born: Orsett
Football career: Millwall (x2), Tampa Bay Rowdies, Ipswich T, Enfield, Doncaster Rovers, Chelmsford City
Position: Centre Midfield, 2 Eire U21 caps, also called up to full squad but had to withdraw due to injury.
Likes: Music - Food - Indian
TV/Film - Only Fools and Horses
Social Media - Facebook
Q. Tell me about your footballing career
A. I played in the FA Youth Cup final with Millwall, made my fell debut for them at 17 against Wrexham. I was in the promotion side there under George Graham from League 3 to League 2.
I went to America when Millwall needed to raise some cash, the Tampa manager was Gordon Jago who had been my manager at Millwall. I also played under Bobby Robson at Ipswich, joining them in 1981 (the year Villa won the League)
Q. Who were the best players you played with?
A. I played against George Best in the USA. The best players I played with were at Ipswich, there were some great players there, but I would say Arnold Muhren was the best.
Q. How/why did you get into coaching?
A. I had to retire as a player through injury at 27. So I did my coaching badges, then started out at Colchester United side of excellence, before moving on to Ipswich Town Academy working with Brain Klug
Q. How long have you known Glen and what has he asked you to do in your role?
A. I've known him about 25 years; I had him as a player at Witham. We remained close friends and whenever he's been a manager, he's asked me along to assist him. I do the coaching here.
Q. How have you settled in here?
A. I like it here; it's similar to our time at Leiston. There's not a massive budget and it's a challenge. At Leiston we built a young successful side and hope to do the same here.
Q. It's a new squad that's being built here, how long will it take to get them to gel together?
A. How long's a piece of string? I think it's going to take a good few months to get things in to shape, to get the players knowing each other's strengths and weaknesses. We've had lots of trialists signed and released a few. The club needs a time of stability and a good foundation like we built at Leiston.
Q. You've had a lot of players to look over pre-season, what are you looking for?
A. Young hungry players with good attitudes. Players who are willing to listen and learn.
Q. What have you made of the friendlies?
A. Pre-season with so many comings and goings, I think we've done well to get down to 20 players within a month to choose from. There have been some decent games and hard tests like the Brentford game.
Q. Where do we need to improve before the season starts?
A. We need to settle on a system, work on players in training and let them know what we want from them in the system. The first thing we look for is attitude and work ethic.
Q. With 8 games in August, where would you like/expect us to be?
A. We couldn't have asked for a harder start with three of last season's play-off contenders. If we can consolidate and be in mid table, we will have done well.
Q. What expectations do you have for this team?
A. We want to see players improve.
Q. What challenges do you think this League holds?
A. Many, lots of big clubs with big budgets, but the challenges don't phase us, just enjoy it.
Q. Which games are you looking forward to?
A. The local derbies, big crowds and a good atmosphere.
Q. Which teams do you think will be challenging for promotion?
A. Billericay Town, Bath City both spending in pre-season. Wealdstone and Havant & Waterlooville, Maidstone United.
Q. Where do you think Braintree can finish?
A. With a young squad I'm hoping we can finish mid-table and then build on it.
Q. Any message for the fans?
A. I hope they enjoy the season. We'll put out a team that will give 100%. We may sometimes get found out but the players will work hard for the club.
Driver bolsters Braintree squad
Iron boss adds eight!
Braintree manager Glen Driver completed a busy week by adding eight additional players to his squad.
Forward Jason Banton joins from Truro City, where he spent last season on loan from Torquay United. The 27 year old forward/winger was an England under-17 international and had a number of clubs as a young player, spending time at Arsenal, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool and Leicester City, before making his debut in the Football League at Burton Albion in October 2011. He signed with Crystal Palace in 2012, and was loaned out to Plymouth Argyle and Milton Keynes Dons before joining Plymouth permanently in January 2014. He signed with Wycombe Wanderers in June 2015, and spent a brief time on loan at Hartlepool United. On 13 February 2016 he signed for Notts County until the end of the 2015-16 season, he was released by Notts at the end of the season and signed for Crawley Town, subsequently going on loan to Scottish Premiership side Partick Thistle. At the end of the 2016-17 season Banton was released by Crawley and joined National League Woking. On 20 June 2018 he joined Gary Owers' National League South challengers Torquay United and had loan spells last season at St. Albans City and Dulwich Hamlet.
Femi Akinwande joins the Club from Concord Rangers. The 23-year old striker spent nine years with the Millwall academy before joining Dartford in 2013. After having trials for Brentford and Crystal Palace, Akinwande signed for Fisher in January 2015. He then moved to Maldon & Tiptree for the 2015-16 season, and after 12 goals in 18 appearances, he joined Colchester United's Academy on a development contract until the end of the season. He made his professional Football League debut in March 2016. He later joined Bishop's Stortford, made a return to Maldon & Tiptree, and played for East Thurrock United on loan in the 2016-17 season. He was released by Colchester in May 2017 and returned to East Thurrock before moving on to Concord Rangers.
Michael Clark has re-joined the Club after spending last season at Concord Rangers. The centreA centre half who will be 22 in September, captained the Leyton Orient youth team during the 2015-16 campaign. In his first season as a pro, Clark was sent on loan to East Thurrock United at the start of the 2016-17 season, making 33 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals. Clark was recalled from his loan and drafted into the Leyton Orient first team squad in February 2017, and made his debut as a second-half substitute for Tom Parkes in the 1-0 league defeat at home to Cheltenham Town on 25 February 2017. A second loan spell at East Thurrock was announced in December 2017, before Clark agreed to switch to Cressing Road last summer.
Ollie Saunders joins the Club from Grimsby Town, where he joined as part of the Club's 2017 intake of youth players. At home as either a left back or on the left side of midfield, Ollie is nineteen in November and has impressed manager Glen Driver with some assured performances in pre-season.
Adam Mills started his career as a youngster with Needham Market before joining both Maldon & Tiptree and Sudbury. A mobile wide player, Adam then rejoined Needham two years ago before training with Braintree during pe-season. The 22-year old winger/striker is another to have impressed Glen Driver with his performances in the friendlies.
Josh Urquhart has joined the Club from Billericay Town, having previously been with Wealdstone - who he left in the summer of 2018. Josh made over 50 appearances for the club and lifted the Essex Senior Cup, Isthmian League Cup and Isthmian League title. Although he prefers a midfield role, Josh successfully played in a full back role for much of last season. The 28-year old has also played for St. Albans City, East Thurrock and Hampton & Richmond Borough.
Emmanuel Folarin has signed for the club from neighbours Coggeshall Town. The 27-year old defender has also had spells with Tilbury, Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley and Hayes & Yeading.
Charley Barker is a twenty-year old midfielder who has joined the Club from Isthmian League Premier Division side Haringey Borough, where he was a regular in the North London's successful side. Prior to his spell at White Hart Lane, Charley started his career at Leyton Orient, before spending time at Cheltenham Town.
Vanarama National League South fan preview
Braintree season ticket holder Vaughan Creer has all the answers!
League sponsors Vanarama have been getting the fans' perspective ahead of the new season - which kicks off this Saturday ...
We're nearly there - the new season is upon us - what have Braintree fans got to look forward to?
When Glen Driver was appointed, he exclaimed his desire to bring a positive footballing philosophy and a bracket of entertaining football, and many players have expressed their excitement to play under Glen. This certainly will be something to look forward to for us fans.
New manager, new players and a new division. How do the fans feel the new-look Iron are taking shape?
It's hard to tell at the moment, with our pre-season outings consisting of many trialists, however a lot of players seem to bond well with their team-mates and their manager. Players like Trey Charles, Tom Richardson and Michael Johnson have already played well and will look to carry this form on to the season.
What's been his best bit of business this summer?
I would say Tom Richardson is a fantastic addition to our squad. With four goals already in pre-season, he's impressed everyone after coming up from a lower division. I admire his desire to work as hard as he can in pressured situations.
Who will be your one to watch coming August 3?
Our one to watch has to be Alfie Cerulli, our only player from last season who has signed on for this year. He's a young striker who played five times last season, coming on as a substitute he scored two goals against Gateshead and Dagenham, and we hope his goals will start to tally up when the season begins. One of our own, as they say.
Who are the other sides to watch out for and could be in the promotion mix?
A real threat for promotion this year will be Billericay Town, if Glenn Tamplin continues to give them significant financial boosts and signing top-tier players, they will most definitely be looking to go up this year.
What away day can't you wait for?
I'm looking forward to visiting Dartford's Princes Park this year, as they are renowned for their well-kept ground. I'm hoping we can recreate some memories of the play-off semi-final from two years back.
And what game would you like to win more than any other?
Obviously it's Chelmsford City. Two years ago when we played each other, both fixtures ended in a 2-2 draw, so hopefully we'll come out on top this year.
What opposition player would you most like to see in your side - and what makes him so good?
Billy Crook would be great to have back, a creative midfielder who could get forward and defend, plus a calm penalty taker also.
Vanarama, the leading van leasing brand in the UK, have recently launched the National League 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.
Second best after break in final friendly
King's Lynn good value for two-goal victory
Iron wrapped up their pre-season friendlies losing to newly promoted National League North side King's Lynn at the Cressing Road on Saturday in what was a keenly fought encounter but one that left both managers with food for thought before the league officially kicks off next Saturday.
In a fairly even first half both sides hit each others woodwork twice and there were goal scoring chances at either end with Iron keeper Michael Johnson pulling off a great 18th minute save from Andy Marriott while, up at the other end on the half hour, Tom Richardson came closest to opening the Iron account but when clear on goal he lobbed his shot high over the bar.
Iron's Jason Banton did get the ball into the Lynn net shortly afterwards but the referee penalised him for fouling keeper Alex Street.
The second half belonged to the visitors who upped their game and with the Iron making a total of seven changes during the half the team lost their way with poor passing, slack marking and a lack of cohesion.
So it was no surprise when on 64 minutes former Iron striker Michael Gash picked up a poor pass out of the Iron defence and punished the home side by driving the ball hard and low goalwards which keeper Johnson managed to get a hand to it but couldn't prevent it from going into the net.
Four minutes later the visitors added a second albeit with a slice of luck when a low, right cross from substitute Aaron Jones clipped the back of Iron defender Ollie Saunders diverting the ball past Johnson who was caught wrong-footed.
The visitors continued to control the game and could have scored again while at the other end the Iron's best attempts were from substitutes Alfie Cerulli and Adam Mills who fired first time shots wide of the target.
The result and performance leaves Iron manager Glen Driver and his back room team with some thinking and action before Saturday's opening day match against Bath City.
Braintree Town: Johnson; Osborne (Forest, trialist), Saunders, Hutchings, Gipson; Cole, Bonnet-Johnson, Manesio, Banton; Richardson, Akinwande.
Second half substitutes: Mills, Cerulli, Charles, Osie, Michael-Percil, Harvey, Clements.
Next up is the start of the 2019/2020 National League South season, next Saturday 3rd August, and a trip to Bath City's Twerton Park Stadium, with kick-off at 3pm.
Odd goal in three win at Maldon
Two goals either side on home penalty
Iron returned from Maldon on Tuesday evening with a hard fought win, writes Jon Weaver. Tom Richardson was the first to show, shooting just wide after four minutes from 20 yards. Rob Harvey came closest to scoring in the opening half, finishing an intricate move with a flick that rolled just past the upright. The home side created several openings, with Michael Johnson coming to their rescue with several fine saves.
Braintree made six changes at the break and the second half began with a goalless draw looking the most likely outcome. Maldon came closest when Johnson saved twice in quick succession, while at the other end Cerulli and Michael-Percil both spurned one on one opportunities.
After 67 minutes Michael-Percil played in Cerulli. His shot was palmed into the path of Akinwande who headed into the net for Braintree, but was judged to have been offside. Braintree got the breakthrough four minutes later. Ollie Saunders surged down the left wing and drilled a low ball across the goal for Akinwande to convert from close range.
With eight minutes left Iron conceded a needless penalty, which was converted by the home side.
But it only took a minute for Iron to regain their advantage with what turned out to be the winning goal. Akinwande broke through on the right and slid the ball back into the path of Mills who struck the decisive blow.
TEAM: 1 Michael Johnson 2 Harry Osbourne 3 Trey Charles (18 Ollie Saunders) 14 Jermaine Osei (16 Ade Cole) 5 Jake Hutchings 6 Kyran Clements 7 Rob Harvey (20 Roman Michael-Percil) 8 Sean Bonnett-Johnson (16 Sergio Manesio) 9 Tom Richardson (19 Femi Akinwande) 10 Tom Murphy (12 Adam Mills) 11 Jason Banton (17 Alfie Cerulli).
Iron conclude their preparations on Saturday when King's Lynn Town visit the Cressing Road Stadium at 3pm.
Patience rewarded at Bury
Three goal win for Braintree
Roman Michael-Percil appeared in a Braintree shirt for the first time since the 2018 play-off final, as Iron travelled to meet Bury Town in their fifth pre-season fixture, writes Jon Weaver.
Nineteen players were used, although for the first time no new faces were seen. On a warm afternoon, Iron started well and knocked the ball around with purpose, while also cutting out the individual errors that have proved so costly in recent games.
The first chance of the game came after eight minutes. Bury's Ross Crane struck at the far post but his low shot was held by Johnson. Gipson was commanding in the centre of defence until going off injured after 35 minutes and the experienced Jason Banton was busy with probing runs and intelligent passes. Up front clear chances were few and far between and half time arrived with no goals scored.
The remaining seven substitutes all came on at the break and Iron began to get on top. After 52 minutes a poor back pass was pounced on by Alfie Cerulli. As he sped into the penalty area he was closed down by Ollie Fenn and forced to drag his shot agonisingly wide of the upright. Soon after, a sublime through ball from Cerulli set Jermaine Osie up but his low effort was saved by Norwich City loanee keeper, Daniel Barden.
A goal was coming and it duly arrived on the hour. Ade Cole delivered an accurate low cross with pace into the danger area, giving Cerulli the simple task of applying the finishing touch, via the underside of the crossbar. Six minutes later Braintree had doubled their lead. Cerulli was again involved, employing neat footwork before setting up Ade Cole to crash the ball into the top corner from outside the box.
With 13 minutes to go the hosts were awarded a penalty. Protests from Iron's Trey Charles earned him the first yellow card of the season. Bury's young substitute in the no. 14 shirt stepped up to take the kick but struck the inside of the post. The ball rebounded to him and his second attempt was saved by Johnson before the second rebound was converted. The officials initially seemed to disallow the goal, and then gave it. Confused spectators watched on as discussions were held before the restart and ultimately the correct decision was made to disallow the goal as the taker had touched the ball twice before any other player had played it.
There was still time for Iron to add a third goal to round off their most satisfying pre-season performance to date. An effort from Cerulli was diverted by Fenn into Aaron Lamont's path and he found the bottom corner of the net from 12 yards.
TEAM FIRST HALF - 1 Michael Johnson 2 Harry Osbourne 3 Ollie Saunders 4 Sergio Manesio 5 Kyran Clements 6 Jayden Gipson (5 George Essuman) 7 Roman Michael-Percil 8 Sean Bonnett-Johnson 9 Tom Richardson 10 Femi Akinwande 11 Jason Banton.
SECOND HALF TEAM - 1 Michael Johnson 2 Harry Osbourne 19 Trey Charles 15 George Essuman (3 Ollie Saunders) 5 Kyran Clements NN - Rob Harvey 16 Ade Cole 12 Aaron Lamont 17 Alfie Cerulli 20 Jermaine Osie 14 Adam Mills.
Next up for Braintree is the short trip to Park Drive this coming Tuesday evening to play Maldon & Tiptree, which kicks off at 7.45pm.
Brentford XI impress against Iron
West London side win 4-0
Iron entertained a young Brentford side at Cressing Road Stadium on Tuesday evening, again fielding a different team in each half. Iron almost scored after 8 minutes when Adams Mills' long range effort was tipped away for a corner by Sheppard in the visitors' goal. The slick moving West Londoners enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and Titon and Onen had tame efforts saved by Johnson.
The opening goal was gifted to the visitors, with Iron losing possession in front of goal and being swiftly punished by a trialist. Two minutes later Onen doubled the score and Iron went in at the interval two down.
Ten changes were made at half time, with Johnson once again the only player to stay on. Braintree restarted purposefully and both Trey Charles and Alfie Cerulli shot just wide from distance. In the 57th minute the ball was given away cheaply in midfield, with Brentford's Onen dribbling into the area and finishing well.
Brentford's Brissell completed the scoring with 17 minutes to go. Iron continued to create chances. Both Akinwande and Cole narrowly missed before a strong run and drive by Cole caused Andersson to pull off a good save.
Next up for Braintree is a trip to Ram Meadow on Saturday to play Bury Town at 3pm.
TEAM FIRST HALF - 1 Michael Johnson 2 Harry Osbourne 3 Charlie Banya 4 Tyler Christian-Law 5 Jake Hutchings 6 Kyron Clements 7 Sean Bonnett-Johnson 8 Aaron Lamont 9 Tom Richardson 10 Adam Mills 11 Jason Banton.
SECOND HALF - 1 Michael Johnson 15 Rob Harvey 18 Ollie Saunders 12 Jayden Gipson 14 George Essuman, Sergio Manesio, 16 Ade Cole 20 Jermaine Osie 17 Alfie Cerulli, Femi Akinwande, 19 Trey Charles.
Braintree all square with West Ham