Mo levels things up in time added on
It took a dramatic goal four minutes into added on time at the end of this game at Cressing Road on Tuesday evening to see the Iron grab an equaliser and collect their first point at home.
The visitors, who had dominated the first half and could have been four goals up by half time, finally conceded under late severe pressure from Iron and after a sweeping move down the right wing Mohamed Bettamer ran on to drive the ball low into the net past the despairing keeper Scott Loach for the equaliser.
The Iron players though have to thank goalkeeper Ben Killip who pulled off five fantastic first half saves, including a 10th minute penalty, and twice again in the second half denied the visitors with great saves.
The visitors had swamped the Iron in the first half completely dominating the game and creating so many chances but only managed one goal on 25 minutes when Niko Muir finally beat Killip to give his side the lead.
After such an impressive performance away to Chesterfield on Saturday the Iron's first half performance left home fans shell shocked at the lack of effort, energy and with players not doing the basics, such as passing the ball to one another.
Such was one-way traffic on 22 minutes Iron manager Brad Quinton took off central defender Josh Hill, who was having a poor game after giving away the early penalty, and brought on Christian Frimpong to try and stabilise the defence.
The visitors though remained dominant and but for some plucky defending, Killip's saves and poor finishing by the visitors they would have had the game sown up.
A severe lecture by Quinton, initially keeping his players out on the field at the interval, seem to at least galvanise his players and they played much better in the second half which was a more even affair.
The Iron at last pressed further up the field and several half chances went begging. The visitors always still looked threatening on the counter attack but their finishing was wayward and Killip was outstanding in goal.
The first Iron appearance of Irnti Rapai, coming on as a substitute on 55 minutes certainly improved Iron's forward play as he linked up well with Bettamer and both had good attempts at goal while first Christie Pattison and then Luke Allen fired home shots just narrowly missing the target.
To their credit Iron kept pushing for that unexpected but hoped for equaliser and it came deep into stoppage much to the delight of the home fans in the 606 crowd.
The Iron's first half performance left Quinton livid and afterwards he said: "It's the worse 45 minutes of football I have seen from any side I have managed - it was diabolical and totally unacceptable.
"But for Ben Killip we would have been dead and buried and it was a totally unacceptable performance from my players," he went on. "I have clearly some sorting out to do and the players know only too well what I have said from the start - if they don't perform, do as we want them and then put in the kind of performance in the first half then they will be on their way out.
"We need one or two new faces coming in and it will happen because we can't have a repeat of the first 45 minutes," he added. "This is a tough league as we know and you have to be on your game right from the start and in every game and we didn't do that in this game."
Braintree Town: Killip; Muleba. Webber, Clark, Hill (Frimpong 22); Durojaiye (Della-Verde 70), Allen, Rowe (Rapai 55), Lyons-Foster; Bettamer, Pattisson. Unused subs: Bettache, Ochieng. Referee: Peter Gibbons. Attendance: 606.
Next up for the Iron is a home game on Saturday against Havant & Waterlooville, kick off 3pm.
A game of what ifs for Braintree
Braintree Town put up a tremendous away performance against the Championship favourites at the Proact Stadium on Saturday but came away with nothing after conceding the only goal of the game in the 58th minute.
It could have all been so different had the Iron, who successfully had set their stall out from the start and contained the home side for long periods, had taken the one first half golden goal chance of the game on 17 minutes.
Pressing hard with some good movement and passing the chance came when they forced the home side defender Drew Talbot into a mistake that saw Daniel Rowe break completely clear on goal and he should have scored with only keeper Shwan Jalal to beat.
The youngster should have chipped the ball over the keeper but instead chose to drive it forcing Jalal into a diving save with his feet and the chance had gone.
Had the Iron scored then the outcome of the game could well have been different because they more than held their own against the full-timers but it was clear to the faithful 57 Iron fans in the 4,927 crowd that a goal scoring striker remains a priority.
All the good build up play and creative work was all too often wasted in the final quarter and frequently during the game they forced the home defence into some panic defending.
With Jo Ellul and Reece Grant both injured the Iron brought in Daniel Rowe and Josh Hill kept his place in the heart of the defence and they more than held their own consistently frustrated the home side.
What turned out to be the only goal of came on 58 minutes with a home side counter attack that caught the Iron's right side of defence napping and Curtis Weston nipped in onto a Marcel-Antoine Fortune quick pass and he drilled a low shot into the Iron net.
Two minutes early Iron keeper Ben Killip had pulled of a great save at the feet of Fortune to keep his side in the game and again the new keeper excelled all afternoon and is one of the bright spots for the Iron in their start to the season.
Once in front the home side naturally had renewed confidence but full credit to the Iron defence they weathered the storm and continued to try and play their football.
Ironically in the final 10 minutes of the game they were on the front foot and created confusion in the home defence leaving keeper Jalal to twice scramble the ball away at the last moment and then defender Talbot was forced to sky the ball away as it was heading goal wards.
Even at this stage had Iron a striker they may well have grabbed that all important equaliser.
Manager Brad Quinton was also disappointed they didn't come away with a point adding: "The players stuck to our game plan, worked hard and created chances and had we scored first with out first half chance it would have been a different game and it goes to show that at this level you have take the chances when they come or you get punished."
"But we are improving each game and we are going in the right direction," he added.
Next up for the Iron is a home match against Hartlepool United this coming Tuesday evening, with kick off at 7.45pm.
Braintree Town: Kiilip; Muleba, Webber, Clark, Hill; Durojaiye, Della- Verde (62 Bettamer), Lyons-Foster, Pattison, Rowe (71 Allen); Thompson. Unused subs Frimpong, Orchieng, Bettache. Referee: Andrew Miller. Attendance: 4,927
Chesterfield v Braintree T
Chesterfield finished bottom in EFL Division 2 last season on 38 points. Their home record last season was: P 23 W 8 D 3 L 12 GF 27 GA 33 Pts 27. Last 4 home results: Won 3-0 v Aldershot T, 2017/18 - Won 1-0 v Newport C, Lost 1-2 v Wycombe W, Lost 0-1 v Mansfield T. Top scorers last season: Kristian Denis (now Notts Co) - 21, Jak McCourt (now Swindon T) - 6 Andy Kellett (now Notts Co), Joe Rowley & Louis Reed (on loan from Sheffield U, now at Peterborough U) - 4. Scorers this season: Charlie Carter - 2, Zavon Hines (p) & Drew Talbot - 1
Braintree T last 4 away (League) games: Drew 1-1 v Barnet, 2017/18 - Won 1-2 v Truro C, Won 0-1v Hungerford T, Lost 2-1 v St Albans C. Suspension news: Crook to serve a further 3 game ban, McDonald has completed his suspension and is available for selection.
Chesterfield dropped out of the Football League for the first time in their history last season. Former player Jack Lester was put in charge at the end of September 2017, but was unable to steer them clear of the drop and was mutually dismissed at the end of the season. In stepped Martin Allen, the other manager relegated from the EFL. The ex-Bees boss has brought a few players who played under him at The Hive.
Their opening fixtures saw them win 1-0 away to Ebbsfleet and a midweek home victory against the Shots followed.
Braintree come in to this game on the back of gaining their first point of the season in an evenly contested match at The Hive; however, they have yet to find the net from one of their won players. Joe Ellul was substituted in the first half and was on crutches at the end, so must be a doubt for selection.
The Iron have only met the Spireites once before when drawn at home to them in the F A Cup 1st Round (Nov 2014); the League One side handing out a 6-0 beating to the hosts.
A tough task awaits as Brad takes his boys to one of the promotion favourites.
Iron worthy of a point at Barnet
A gritty second half performance from Iron ensured they returned home with the first point of the new season at the Hive on Tuesday evening in what was an all round improved display after their opening day home defeat on Saturday.
Playing with more verve, cohesion and teamwork they were well worth their half time lead and although they were under the cosh at times in the second half, as the home side pressed hard, Iron deservedly held out for a point.
It left manager Brad Quinton with a smile on his face who said: "That's much better and more of what I expect from my players and I am delighted we're off the mark.
"I thought we played really well in the first half and deserved our lead," he said. "We knew they could come at us after the interval but the players showed tremendous determination and grit to compete and deny them a victory. We've still a lot of work to do but I feel after this performance we are on the right track."
Making three changes from the first game - Joe Ellul, Kodi Lyons-Foster and Dan Thompson coming into the starting line-up - the Iron set about the home side from the off forcing five corners in the first nine minutes.
When the home did press Iron keeper Ben Killip, who has been a revelation in his first two games at the Club, pulled off two fine first half saves while on quick counter attacks Iron caused the home rearguard frequent problems.
Their efforts were rewarded on 35 minutes when a marauding run down the right by Jon Muleba saw his low, hard right wing cross cause all kinds of problems and in the end forcing defender Jack Taylor to concede an own-goal as his tried desperately to clear the ball.
Four minutes later the Iron suffered a blow when Ellul, looking strong in the middle of the Iron defence, was forced off with a leg injury to be replaced by Josh Hill, but the Iron kept up the chase for that all important second goal.
Fully deserving their first half lead, Iron knew it would be a backs-to-the-wall style second half which is what happened and on 66 minutes, after much pressure, the home side equalised when substitute Shaq Coulhirst managed to scramble the ball over the line as the Iron defence struggled to clear the danger.
For a brief spell the home side naturally tried to force home their renewed confidence and the Iron defence lived dangerously with the woodwork saving them once and also another two fine saves from Killip.
Having weathered the storm Iron, with two late substitutes helping their cause, came back into the game more and twice young sub Reece Grant was unlucky late on not to have snatched a winner.
In the final minute Killip kept his side in the game and saved a point as he pulled off a fantastic reaction save from a ricochet shot that looked to be dipping into top corner of the Iron net but he somehow managed to get a hand to the ball to push it around for a corner.
It would have been an injustice had Iron not taken at least a draw from what was an entertaining game with end-to-end football from both sides and Iron can now look forward to another away game on Saturday when they visit Chesterfield.
Braintree Town: Killip; Muleba, Webber, Clark, Ellul (39 Hill); Durojaiye, Allen (66 Rowe), Della-Verde, Pattisson; Lyons-Foster, Thompson (72 Grant). Unused subs: Bettache, Frimpong. Referee: Lloyd Wood. Attendance: 1,507.
Barnet v Braintree Town
Barnet finished 23rd in EFL Division 2 last season on 46 points. Their home record last season was: P 23 W 8 D 6 L 9 GF 24 GA 25 Pts 40. Last 4 home results: Won 3-0 v Chesterfield, Won 2-0 v Newport C, Won 1-0 v Forest Green R, Won 2-1 v Crewe A. Top scorers last season: Shaquile Coulthirst - 11, Alex Nicholls (now Crewe A) - 8, John Akinde (now Lincoln C) - 7
Braintree's away record last season was: P 21 W 8 D 7 L 6 GF 33 GA 32 Pts 31. Braintree T last 4 away (League) games: Won 1-2 v Truro C, Won 0-1v Hungerford T, Lost 2-1 v St Albans C, Drew 1-1 v Hampton & Richmond B. Top Braintree Town Scorers last season: Billy Crook- 10 (7p), Luke Allen- 7, Marcel Barrington - 6
Suspension news: Crook to serve a further 4 game ban, McDonald will complete his suspension on completion of this match.
The Bees went through four managers in an attempt to stave off relegation from League 2 last season. With games running out, they turned to Martin Allen for a 5th time to save them, but didn't quite make it. In the summer Allen left to take over also relegated Chesterfield.
Again Barnet have turned to an old hand in former Daggers boss John Still to take over the reins. Still has raided his previous club to bring in players to the Hive, including former Iron favourite Dan Sparkes.
Barnet's opening fixture of the season saw them return from Aldershot with a 0-0 draw, whilst the Iron suffered a home defeat to FC Halifax Town. A tough test awaits the Iron at the Hive, but don't forget to buddy up as the hosts offering 2 for the price of one admission to the game.
Debutant Killip keeps the score respectable
The young Iron team did their best but it was not quite good enough in the end in their first game back after promotion back to the Vanarama National League and, despite an encouraging even first half display, they allowed a more experienced and streetwise Yorkshire side to dominate the second half who deservedly they went away from Cressing Road with all three points on Saturday.
And but for the heroics by debutant Ben Killip in the home goal who pulled off six outstanding saves during the afternoon the wining margin would certainly have been greater.
Despite a fairly even first half with both sides counter attacking well and both side having chances the visitors' breakthrough came two minutes from the interval when they gained four consecutive quick corners and from the last one scored the opening goal.
It came from a series of accurate corners by Ben Tomlinson and with his final effort his cross was met at the far post by the unmarked Jonathan Edwards who headed it back across the goal and into the top corner of the Iron net.
It was a bitter blow for the Iron right on half time and it clearly affected the players because in the second half they were second best and struggled to cope with the quickness and accurate passing of the visitors.
The all important second goal for the visitors came on 65 minutes when from another left wing Tomlinson corner defender Nathan Clarke ran unchallenged into the Iron to deliver a bullet like header into the top corner of the net giving Killip no chance.
From then on it was almost one-way traffic as the young and inexperienced home side ran out of ideas and again but for the superb agility from Killip in the home goal the final scoreline would have been much different.
The Iron's failure to penetrate the visitors' defence in that final quarter of the field and clearly lacking a target man up front also led to their demise and left manager Brad Quinton with plenty of thinking to do before his side go to Barnet on Tuesday night.
"It's going to be a big learning curve for my young players and the more experienced visitors cleared their lines and did a horrible defensive job when needed but we didn't do the same," he declared. "You have to be on your toes all the while at this level and it cost us the game from two corners otherwise I thought we did well even if we overplayed it too often proving to be our own worse enemies."
Braintree: (4-3-2-1): Killip; Muleba, Webber, Clark, Hill; Durojaiye, Allen (67 Rowe), Ochieng (77 Grant), Verde (69 Thompson), Pattisson; Bettamer. Subs not used: Bettache, Ellul. Attendance: 621. Referee: Will Finnie
Next up for the Iron is an away league game at Barnet on Tuesday evening (kick off 7 45pm).
Braintree T v FC Halifax T
Last season, FC Halifax T finished 16th in the Vanarama National League on 55 points. Their away record last season was: P 23 W 4 D 10 L 9 GF 17 GA 28 Pts 22. Last 4 away results: Drew 0-0 v Maidstone Lost 1-0 v Torquay U, Lost 2-0 v AFC Fylde, Drew 1-1 v Guiseley AFC. Top scorers last season: Tom Denton (now Alfreton) - 10, Matthew Kosylo - 9 Adam Morgan - 4.
Braintree Town finished 6th the Vanarama National League South on 54 points. Braintree's home record last season was: P 21 W 11 D 4 L 6 GF 40 GA 23 Pts 26. Braintree T last 4 home games: Won 3-0 v Gloucester C, Drew 0-0 v Oxford C, Won 4-3 v Whitehawk, Won 2-1 v Concord R. Top Braintree Town Scorers: Billy Crook- 11 (7p), Reece Grant & Luke Allen - 7. Suspension news: Billy Crook starts the season with a 5 game ban, goalkeeper, Nathan McDonald serves a 2 match ban. Our quick return to the top tier of non-league football presents us with an opening day fixture against FC Halifax Town.
The Shaymen have had a busy summer returning to full time status for the first time in a decade. They have also gone a major squad re-building with only a handful of players from last season. Their manager, Jamie Fullarton took over the club in February 2018 having previously managed Notts County two years previous, his only other managerial post.
The Iron meanwhile will parade new signings to join several of last season's play-off winning squad. Coming in are Michael Clark formerly of Leyton Orient, Olu Durajaiye from Welling & Lyle Della-Verde from Dartford. With McDonald suspended, new signing Ben Killip will have the opportunity to make the number one shirt his own.
FC Halifax were amongst the lowest scorers in the division last season and I predict a low scoring, close encounter.
BQ continues build-up to the season
This final run out for both teams before they kick off the serious business of their new National League season this coming Saturday turned out to be a tepid affair at Cressing Road on Saturday and lacked the traditional passion of a local derby between these two neighbours.
With both managers using the game to play several trialists and with many substitutions throughout the afternoon, there was understandably a lack of cohesion on behalf of both teams with City arguably the better side in the first half while Iron dominated the second.
As a result chances at either end were few and far between with City's Rhys Murphy narrowly heading over on 26th minutes and five minutes before the break Christie Pattison fired in a shot for the Iron which narrowly missed the visitors' goal.
With regular Iron keeper Nathan McDonald suspended for the first two league games manager Brad Quinton gave a trial to Ben Killip who played 10 games in goal for Grimsby Town last season but he was really troubled in the first half while another trialist was left-back Kristian Campbell, who played against the Iron last season when playing for relegated Bognor Regis Town.
Half time saw wholesale changes for the Iron with only Christian Frimpong remaining from the first half with further debuts given to trialists Kodi Lyons-Foster, 21, who played for Whitehawk last season against the Iron, and midfielder Henri Orchieng.
Iron certainly had the better of the second half with first Billy Crook firing close on 51 minutes and then on 75 minutes trialist Mustafa Taryiki, formerly with Wealdstone, should have scored when set up for a goal but he shot tamely at visiting keeper Ross Worner.
The visitors almost snatched what would have been an undeserved winner on 87 minutes when one of their six un-named trialists drove a rising shot that brushed the top of the Iron crossbar.
The game finally petered out with both managers probably satisfied more with the chance to look at possible new recruits rather any concern over the result.
Braintree Town: Killip; Muleba, Campbell, Frimpong, Ellul; Durojaiye, Della-Verde, Pattison, Barrington; Grant, Thompson. Second half Iron substitutes: Jones (gk), Bettache, Allen, Crook, Bettamer, Rowe, Orchieng, Tariki, Lyons-Foster. Attendance: 254.
Next up for the Iron is the opening National League game against FC Halifax Town at Cressing Road this coming Saturday, kick off 3pm.
Coggeshall beaten in latest friendly
Braintree Town travelled the six miles down the A120, enjoying a 10-second rain shower on the way, before securing a single goal victory over last season's Thurlow-Nunn League champions Coggeshall Town. The goal was scored by Mustafa Tiryaki.
The team was as follows: 1 Nathan McDonald, 2 Jonathan Muleba (SUB: 15 Mahrez Bettache), 3 Kristian Campbell, 4 Michael Clark (18 Christian Frimpong), 5 Josh Hill, 6 Joe Ellul, 7 Joe Allen (14 Lyle Delle-Verde), 8 Olu Durejaiye (Billy Crook - NN), 9 Danny Rowe (Irnti Rapai - NN), 10 Mohamed Battemer (12 Christie Pattison), 11 Mustafa Tiryaki (16 Reece Grant). Unused sub - Marcel Barrington.
Iron lads improve fitness with two games in 24 hours
Iron continued their pre-season build-up with the squad split over two games against Cambridge United on Friday evening and at Dereham Town on Saturday.
Against a strong Cambridge United side, the visitors took the lead very early on. For much of the rest of the game their wasn't much to choose between the sides. Iron changed eight of their starting line up at half time and Cambridge made multiple changes. Two goals in two minutes at the end of the game gave Cambridge a bigger winning margin than they possibly deserved.
On Saturday Iron controlled much of the first half of the game without particularly troubling the Dereham goal. Defensive lapses twice enabled the home side to get through but on each occasion timely goal line clearances prevented them taking the lead. However the home side did break through just before the interval to go in 1-0 ahead.
Ten of the starting line up had played against Cambridge the night before and understandably in such difficult conditions the second period was lacklustre.
In injury time a Joe Ellul header was acrobatically tipped over the bar to prevent the tie going straight to a penalty shoot out. The final whistle blew shortly afterwards, and it was the Bostik North side who lifted the Chris Wright Memorial Trophy.
With thanks to Jon Weaver, the line-ups were as follows:
v Cambridge United: 1 Nathan McDonald, (SUB. 1 Ashlee Jones), 2 Jonathan Muleba (35 Mahrez Bettache), 3 Ben Wyatt (17 Aaron Jones), 4 Joe Ellul (14 Cody Lyons-Foster), 5 Josh Hill (replaced by Joe Ellul, returning to the pitch), 6 Michael Clark (replaced by Christie Pattison, returning to the pitch), 7 Marcel Barrington (15 Christian Frimpong), 8 Luke Allen (16 Billy Crook), 9 Lyle Delle Verde (replaced by Mohamed Bettamer, returning to the pitch), 10 Mohamed Bettamer (12 Irnti Rapai), 11 Christie Pattison (15 Reece Grant).
v Dereham Town: 1 Nathan McDonald, 2 Mahrez Bettache, 3 Archie Edwards (SUB. 17 Edwin Mensah), 4 Lyle Delle Verde ( 16 Isaac Nkosi) 5 Joe Ellul, 6 Christian Frimpong, 7 Luke Allen, 8 Billy Crook (15 Toib Adeyemi), 9 Irnti Rapai (12 Reece Grant), 10 Marcel Barrington (14 Jack Curtis), 11 Christie Pattison (replaced by Irnti Rapai returning to the pitch).
Sudbury beaten 4-2
Braintree Town recorded their third pre-season victory with a 4-2 victory at Bostik Division One (North) side AFC Sudbury on Tuesday evening. Iron trailed 1-0 early on, but stepped up to lead 4-1 before conceding a late second. The goals came from Mohamed Bettamer (2), Dan Thompson & Reece Grant
Next up for Iron is another friendly match at home to Cambridge United, this coming Friday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Tajbakhsh hits the target
Braintree Town recorded their second pre-season victory with a battling two-goal victory over a strong Ipswich Town side at Cressing Road on Saturday - a goal in both halves from Aryan Tajbakhsh saw Iron prevail. The first came after 13 minutes when Tajbakhsh found space on the edge of the Championship side's defence to steer the ball low past Town keeper Dean Gerken's left. Iron continued to create chances, but had to wait until twenty minutes into the second half before doubling their advantage. Ipswich Town's Martyn Waghorn caught Marcel Barrington 25 yards out to concede a free-kick, which Tajbakhsh duly lifted over the wall past the stranded Gerken, just inside the right upright.
Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Ben Wyatt, Olu Durjaiye, Josh Hill, Michael Clark, Marcel Barrington, Billy Crook, Dan Thompson, Aryan Tajbakhsh, Christie Pattison. Substitutes: Reece Grant, Irintl Rapai, Edwin Mensah, Joe Ellul, Mahrez Bettache, Christian Frimpong, Charley Barker.
Next up for Iron is another friendly match at Sudbury, this coming Tuesday evening, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
Braintree welcome Portman Road side
Iron welcome Championship neighbours Ipswich Town to Cressing Road on Saturday, 14th July, with kick-off at 3pm. The Portman Road side have indicated that they will be bringing a strong side to test Braintree, newly promoted back to non-League football's top flight!
Admission for the match will be just £10 for adults and only £5 for OAPs and under 18s. Tickets for the match will not be available in advance and all spectators can pay at the appropriate turnstile (1-4) on arrival. A colour programme will be available - just £2. The clubhouse will be open before, during and after the match with a range of Molson Coors finest ales and lagers. Unfortunately spectators will NOT be allowed to bring drinks into the stadium. Hot food and drink, plus ices and cool drinks will also be on sale. No segregation will be in place.
Colchester score five without reply
Braintree were given a thorough reality test against Football League visitors Colchester United at Cressing Road on Tuesday evening where clearly higher fitness levels and being sharper to the ball from full-time training showed its benefit compared to the home side's part-timers who at times struggled to get into the game.
It left Iron manager Brad Quinton disappointed with his side's performance adding: "We have some individuals who are obviously not up to the fitness levels required and we shall start putting that right in the next training session.
"We were sloppy at times with our passing and individual mistakes caused unnecessary problems," he continued. "Some players were too slow to react when losing possession so we still have a lot to work on.
"It was still a good chance though to have a look at several new players and also playing them in different positions and with different formations which is what these games are all about," he added. "We'll be working hard in several areas before our next game on Saturday against Ipswich Town."
Iron went behind on 11 minutes when Frank Nouble whipped in a quick shot giving keeper Nathan McDonald no chance and the only surprise was that the U's didn't score again before the interval having dominated play and had several decent goal scoring chances.
The start of the second second half saw both sides making several changes and it was U's who scored their second on 52 minutes through substitute Mikeal Mandaron and three minutes former Iron loanee Sam Szmodics added a third with the home defence all at sea.
Another substitute, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, added a fourth goal for the visitors who wrapped up the scoring on 87 minutes when Szmodics set up Mandaron for his second goal.
Although conceding four second half goals, Iron did play better and did cause the visiting defence a few problems but there's clearly training ground work still to be done by Quinton before they kick off their National League campaign.
The game against Ipswich Town on Saturday kicks off at 3pm.
Two in each half at Newmarket
Iron opened up their pre-season friendlies with an impressive and comfortable win against Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side Newmarket Town at a blisteringly hot Cricket Field Road on Saturday.
It left Iron manager Brad Quinton pleased with his opening friendly game adding: "It's good for the players to get their first game under their belts. We knew it would be hot but I felt the players coped well as they have in training so far.
"There's a long way to go before the real kick off and we have some tougher friendlies coming up starting with Colchester United coming to Cressing Road on Tuesday evening (kick off 7.45pm)," he said. "We've several new players on board plus a number of trialists. These games are ideal for us to have a look at them and all of them will get a chance to show what they can do over the next month."
First half goals from regular midfielder Luke Allen (a penalty on nine minutes) and new signing Lyle Delle-Verde (ex-Dartford) on 16 minutes gave the Iron a two-goal lead at the interval.
Second half strikes from young Reece Grant on 69 minutes and a debut Iron goal on 85 minutes from Albanian-born Irnti Rapai, who was playing in the Greek Premier league last season, completed the scoring. But for some heroic saves from home keeper Alex Archer the Iron would have won by a far bigger margin.
Other players making their Iron debut were Aryan Tajbakhsh (ex-Crawley Town), Olu DuroJaiye (ex Welling Utd). Chris Pattison (ex Carshalton), Charley Barker and Edwin Mensah.
Another new siging central defender Michael Clark (20), ex-Leyton Orient, made an impressive debut in defence alongside Iron regular Josh Hill while full-backs Jon Muleba and Ben Wyatt completed a solid back line.
Regular goalkeeper Nathan McDonald played the first half giving way to young Harry Aldridge for the second half.
Iron welcome Anton Smith
Braintree Town have appointed Anton Smith as their new Reserve Team Manager with immediate effect. Anton has experience with Waltham Forest, Leatherhead and Reading Football Clubs and will guide the Iron Reserve side in next season's Thurlow-Nunn League Division One South.
Anton is keen to hit the ground running and will be organising his first training session on Monday evening at the ground, starting at 7.30pm. All of last season's reserve team players are invited to attend. If you are interested in attending a trial for our reserve side next season, please contact Anton on anton_Ls@hotmail.co.uk.
FC Halifax Town visit for opener
Braintree Town resume their place in non-League football's top tier on Saturday 4th August with an opening day home Vanarama National League match against FC Halifax Town. Having been relegated from the National League in 2016, Halifax bounced straight back from the Vanarama North via the play-offs in 2017. Last season The Shaymen finished 16th of the 24, in their first season back in the top flight.
Two tough away trips against former Football League sides follow. On Tuesday, 7th August, Iron make the short journey to Harrow to play Barnet and then on the second Saturday of the season, 11th August, visit Chesterfield. Iron fans may remember Chesterfield visiting Cressing Road for a FA Cup First Round tie in 2014 when the Spireites edged the game 6-0!
Christmas sees Braintree playing Ebbsfleet United with Boxing Day in Kent and New Year's Day in Essex. In between Iron visit Alan Devonshire's Maidenhead United on Saturday, 29th December.
Easter is late next year and Braintree's penultimate game is at home to Dagenham & Redbridge on Easter Monday, 22nd April before a last game of the season at Leyton Orient on Saturday, 27th April.
In the FA Cup, Braintree are once again exempt until the Fourth and final qualifying round, not entering the competition until Saturday, 20th October, with the draw provisionally set for lunchtime on Monday, 8th October. In the FA Trophy, Braintree are once again exempt until the First Round Proper, not entering the competition until Saturday, 15th December, with the draw provisionally set for lunchtime on Monday, 26th November.
Kick-off time changed to accommodate England at 3pm!
The kick-off time for Saturday's opening pre-season friendly at Newmarket has been bright forward to 1pm. This was agreed with the Suffolk club to accommodate England's World Cup Quarter Final against Sweden which kicks off at 3pm.
Billy Crook found guilty despite no corroborative evidence
At our Vanarama South match against Hemel Hempstead Town on 20 January 2018, former player Scott Shulton made allegations against player Billy Crook to the match referee Wayne Cartmel and these were forwarded to the Football Association for their attention. At the time, Club Secretary Tom Woodley spoke with the referee after the game and was advised by him that neither he nor his assistants had heard the alleged remark.
However, as a result of the allegations, Crook was charged with misconduct by The FA, who alleged that he had used abusive and/or insulting words towards Shulton in the fixture. It was further alleged that this breach of rule was an 'Aggravated Breach' as it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or nationality.
The allegations were denied by Crook, who asked for a personal Commission hearing, which took place at Wembley on 12 June, where he was represented by First Team Coach Barry Bolton.
During the Commission, the match referee confirmed that he had not heard the alleged comment and neither had the other match officials. As a result, he felt that cautions would not add any value and was happy to continue without any sanctions. Additionally, it was stated that the alleged incident was not captured by video footage.
In his statement Shulton admitted that he and Crook had argued during the game and then went face to face with each other. Shulton then admitted making statements to Crook 'to deliberately wind him up'. Shulton then claimed that Crook abused him and then admitted grabbing Crook by the throat.
The Commission then considered Crook's interview with The FA in March when Crook claimed that Shulton dragged his foot down the back of his Achilles calf and then, after that - which the camera didn't get, Shulton grabbed Crook by the throat. When asked about the alleged abuse, Crook confirmed that he 'Definitely wouldn't say that. Never.'
During Crook's subsequent evidence, he described having a good footballing relationship with Shulton and described him as a player who would try and 'rile a few players'. He said that at the time of the alleged incident, he felt a late challenge and he kicked out, before he was grabbed by the throat. Crook added 'that's when the allegation came out'. He was 100% sure that he had not abused Shulton, as he was not somebody that caused confrontation or reacted. Crook then stated that he's been playing football since being on a scholarship at Crystal Palace, up to the age of 27 in non-League and he has never had any dissent record. He has only ever had one red card in his career, which was for a mis-timed tackle.
In making their findings, the Commission stated that the burden of proof was on The FA to prove the charge. It stated that the applicable standard of proof was the balance of probability, which meant that the Commission had to be satisfied an event occurred if the Commission considers that, on the evidence, the occurrence of the event was more likely than not.
The Commission accepted there was conflict between the versions of events as Crook denied saying the comments as alleged. However, some significant aspects of the evidence were not disputed. Crook conceded that he reacted angrily to the late tackle against him by Shulton, and that he had retaliated by kicking out, something he did not usually do. The Commission concluded that, on the balance of probability, they decided that Crook had used insulting and/or abusive words towards Shulton.
In setting out sanctions, the Commission took into account Crook's exemplary disciplinary record, but imposed a five-match suspension, a £300 fine and a requirements to complete an online Football Association education course.
Having heard the evidence of both players, we note that there was no corroborative evidence from any of: The FA's match officials; the other 20 players; or any of the 432 crowd that day. Both the Club and player are disappointed that the Commission's findings were merely on the balance of probability and not on the grounds of reasonable doubt. As a result, both the Club and player are now considering further action and may make another statement in due course.
£2 a pint & chips!
Another World Cup special has been lined up for this coming Tuesday evening, 3rd July, when Gareth's boys take on Columbia in the last sixteen of the World Cup.
The Iron Clubhouse will be open from 6pm and the last 16 World Cup game will be screened live at 7pm.
Selected ales and lagers will be reduced to just £2.00 from 6.30pm-end of game!
We also hope to have some of the infamous Iron T-Bar chips available during the evening.
Come on England.
Cambridge visit on a Friday night
Braintree Town have added an extra pre-season friendly match as Iron prepare for their return to non-League football's top flight. The Club will entertain Sky Bet League Two neighbours Cambridge United to Cressing Road on Friday, 20th July, with kick-off at 7.30pm.
Two new faces plus three more from last season sign up
Iron manager Brad Quinton continued to make progress with his squad yesterday, signing five more players. Joining the Club are defender Michael Clark from Leyton Orient and winger Lyle Della-Verde from Dartford, while three more of last season's promotion-winning side have also signed. Michael Clark will be 21 in September and joins Braintree from Leyton Orient. He captained the Leyton Orient youth team during the 2015-16 campaign, winning the South East and West Youth Merit League. 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. He 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 in the 1-0 league defeat at home to Cheltenham Town in February 2017. He finished the season with nine first team appearances for The O's. Last season Clark made three more appearances for The O's and also had a second loan spell at East Thurrock in December 2017, making seven appearances.
Lyle Della-Verde is a 23-year old winger who joins Iron after impressing at Dartford last season. After playing for Tottenham Hotspur and Southend United, Lyle signed for Fulham in 2011, turning professional on his 17th birthday in January 2012. He made 8 appearances for Bristol Robvers on loan during 2014/15. He signed for Fleetwood Town in July 2015, where he made 8 appearances before joining Crawley Town in February 2016, where he made a further 12 appearances. 2016/17 saw him made 17 appearances for Welling United and then 22 for Concord Rangers before switching to Dartford last summer, where he made 34 appearances for the Vanarama South runners-up.
Brad has also re-signed Billy Crook, Luke Allen and Mahrez Bettache.
Brad adds to squad and agrees terms with five
Braintree Town manager Brad Quinton has been hard at work adding to and securing the best of his squad. He has agreed terms with signed 25-year old defender/midfielder Olu Durojaiye. Olu, a Nigerian player who was called up for his country's Under-20 Development Squad, played in the Vanarama South for Welling United last season. He started his career as a youngster for Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City, before joining Scottish sides Falkirk and Brechin City. He has also played for non-league clubs Enfield Town, Hayes & Yeading United, Hungerford Town and Haringey Borough.
His time at Tottenham saw him rise through the ranks to the Under-18s as a striker. He then trialled with Cheltenham Town, Brentford and Oxford United before moving to Norwich City in August 2012, where he signed a professional contract. In July 2013, Durojaiye moved north of the border to Scottish Championship club Falkirk, spending two seasons at the club before finishing the 2014-15 campaign on loan at Scottish League One side Brechin City. After spells at Enfield, Hayes & Yeading and Haringey Borough, he signed for Welling United in August 2017.
Brad also advised that he has agreed terms with Nathan McDonald, Billy Crook, Marcel Barrington, Luke Allen and Dan Thompson. Discussions continue with other players and new faces and Brad hopes to be in a position to update further next week.
nurturing the best of the youngsters
Braintree Town FC have a vacancy for the post of Reserve Team Manager, who will be playing in next season's Thurlow-Nunn League Division One (South). If you are interested in managing the up and coming Iron stars of tomorrow and playing a vital role in nurturing the best of the youngsters from the affiliated Braintree Town Youth FC into First team players in the years to come, then send your CV to Club Chairman Lee Harding at braintreeTFC@aol.com.
plus promotion celebrations, Bar-B-Q & chips!
A special weekend of promotion celebrations, cheap beer, Bar-B-Q, World Cup football and chips awaits!
On Saturday we have a work party in the morning with all willing victims entitled to one of the Chairman's free drinks!
The Iron Clubhouse opens at 12 noon and the World Cup continues on the TV, with the 1pm game being Belgium v Tunisia from England's group, followed by South Korea v Mexico at 4pm and Germany v Sweden at 7pm.
The lads will be back for pre-season training with a double morning & afternoon session planned! We also have a Promotion Special Bar-B-Q planned for 2.30-3pm, under the guidance of David 'Chef du Jour' Green & Matt 'I'll give it a go' Hawtin.
And just to make that football and Bar-B-Q slip down a little easier, selected ales and lagers will be reduced to just £2.50 from 2pm-6pm!
Moving on to Sunday and the build up to England's game starts with the Iron Clubhouse open at 12 noon and selected ales and lagers will be reduced to just £2.00 from 12 noon-3pm!
We also hope to have some of the infamous Iron T-Bar chips available for the game!
Come on England (and Sweden!)
Colchester to visit in July
Iron have completed their pre-season schedule with the visit of Sky Bet League Two neighbours Colchester United to Cressing Road on Tuesday, 10th July, with kick-off at 7.45pm.
The Club will also be sending a squad side to visit Stanway Rovers on Wednesday, 11 July, subject to re-instatement work being completed on the Stanway pitch. Kick-off for this match will be 7.45pm.
All players invited back plus Bar-B-Q in June
Braintree Town manager Brad Quinton has taken up the option to extend the playing contracts of both Jon Muleba and Christian Frimpong - and has also invited his entire squad back for pre-season training - as he starts work on building a competitive squad for next season, the Club's seventh year in non-League football's top tier since 2011.
Brad said: "The boys were there for me when I needed them last season and they all deserve a chance to play in the level above because each and everyone of them have earned it."
To celebrate the Club's promotion, there will be a Summer Bar-B-Q on Saturday, 23 June when we hope to see the team management and full first team squad back at Cressing Road for a celebration.
While we're all celebrating our promotion, you also be able to watch three of the World Cup matches on the big screens in the clubhouse:
South Korea Republic v Mexico at 4pm and
Germany v Sweden at 7pm.
Most prices frozen at 2016 levels
The Club have agreed their matchday and season tickets pricing for next season. Following the Club's swift return to non-League football's top tier, prices have risen, but most have been frozen at the level when we were last members of the National League two years ago!
As with last season, both adult and concession season tickets allow supporters to sit or stand and receive five games free of charge, while an under 18 season tickets offer an incredible fifteen games free!
A new initiative for the coming campaign is the introduction of a new family ticket for an adult and under 18 combined together. The family ticket offer sees the younger supporter provided with entry for just £21 - less than a pound a game! If you wish to add additional adults or under 18s as part of the family group, speak to Lee Harding.
As usual, 'early bird' discounts are offered for season tickets purchased on or before Saturday 2 June 2018. To get yours, the Club office will be open: Monday-Friday from 10.30am-4pm. The Iron Clubhouse will be open Saturday and Sunday 12-5pm and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 7pm-11pm. Just bring your form and payment with you! Any queries to 01376 330976/345617.
Supporters can pay for their season tickets by card, cash or cheque and the season ticket application form can be downloaded here: SEASON TICKET APPLICATION FORM.
Iron arrange attractive set of friendlies
Braintree Town have started work on their pre-season campaign as they return for a seventh season in non-League football's top flight after a year away.
Iron will start their pre-season build up with a trip to Newmarket Town and their superb 3G pitch at Cricket Field Road on Saturday, 7th July, with kick-off at 3pm. It will also give us an opportunity to meet up with former Iron favourite Micky Shinn who is now Newmarket Town's Manager.
Next for Iron will see the visit of Sky Bet League Two side Colchester United on Tuesday, 10th July, kick-off 7.45pm, followed by Championship side Ipswich Town to Braintree on Saturday, 14th July, with kick-off at 3pm. The Portman Road club have confirmed that they will be bringing the first team squad for the match.
On Tuesday evening, 17th July, Braintree will visit Bostick League side AFC Sudbury, with kick-off at King's Marsh being 7.45pm.
Iron will then welcome Sky Bet League Two side Cambridge United on Friday, 20th July, kick-off 7.30pm. Next up for Iron is a trip to Bostick League side Dereham Town on Saturday 21st July, kick-off at Aldiss Park will be 3pm.
On Tuesday evening, 24th July, we make the short journey to last season's Thurlow-Nunn League champions and near neighbours Coggeshall Town. Iron manager will take the full first team squad to Coggeshall - newly promoted to the Bostick League. Kick-off at West Street will be 7.45pm.
Iron will complete their pre-season schedule with a another local game, at home to Chelmsford City, on Saturday 28th July with kick-off at 3pm. To assist both clubs, it has been agreed to share the gate receipts of this match on a 50:50 cup-tie basis with The Clarets.
Three successive away victories set up top flight return
Iron are back in non League football's top flight just twelve months after relegation after a fabulous team performance led to a nail-biting penalty shootout which they dramatically won 4-3 at The Beveree on Sunday.
After 120 minutes of normal time and extra-time it all came down to a penalty shootout and although Billy Crook missed the first one for the Iron it was excellent spot kicks from Dan Thompson, Marcel Barrington, Josh Hill and finally Diaz Wright that seal victory.
It led to a joyous pitch invasion by the huge group of Iron fans in the 3,127 crowd with champagne flowing as the team received their trophy and left manager Brad Quinton almost speechless.
"I'm over the moon to have won promotion at my first attempt with the club and it's down to the truly magnificent performance of the lads in these three play-off games," he declared. "I never thought in my wildest dreams that we could do it particularly with having to play all our three play-off games away from home.
"We had a game plan the boys stuck to it and all of them worked their socks off each giving well over 100 per cent on the day," he continued. "We want to enjoy the moment together and take it all in - I just can't really believe it's happened and the fans again today have been fantastic with their support as they have all season."
The Iron, keeping the same starting line-up as they have in the two previous play-off matches, saw a tense early start to the game after the kick-off was delayed 10 minutes to allow queuing fans to get in the ground.
Disappointingly too they went behind after only eight minutes when Max Kretzschmar was left unmarked out on the right wing and he strode inside to slid the ball past keeper Nathan McDonald.
Undeterred by this setback Iron gradually came more into the came as the first half progressed with more possession and more chances to score with their best chance coming on 29 minutes when Jon Muleba did well to work his way down the right flank sending in a curling cross that young Reece Grant fired straight at home keeper Seny Dieng.
But Iron's expected equaliser came right on half time in the 45th minute when Thompson showed his strength and prowess brushing off home defenders down the left wing before clipping the ball into the home area where Grant slipped his marker to head home.
A draw was probably a good reflection of the first half play but the second half definitely saw Iron more in the ascendancy and creating more chances going forward and, on 70 minutes, Hill almost scored with a shot on the turn which was closely followed by a Barrington shot that was charged down at the last moment.
On 82 minutes Iron should have taken the lead when keeper Dieng rushed out of his goal as the ball was pushed through by Iron but Grant was quicker to the ball, squaring it to Thompson. With the goal at his mercy and Dieng out of position Thompson slid the ball towards the empty net only for full-back Ben Wynter to hooked it away off the goal line at the last moment.
With the heat taking its toll on all players and both sides becoming edgy in their approach play the game looked to be heading for a draw and a penalty shootout. In extra-time play was a little frenetic at times from both sides as they tried hard to push for a winner but in the end the score remained 1-1.
With the resultant penalty shootout it was Iron who conquered with the impressive young midfielder Wright firing home the Iron's fifth penalty after Brendan Kierman had missed the home side's fourth spot kick, giving the Iron victory 4-3.
Braintree Town: McDonald; Muleba, Gabriel, Hill, Okoye; Wright, Allen (63 Michael-Percil), Crook, Barrington; Grant (105 Wyatt), Thompson. Unused subs: Aldridge, Frimpong, Bettache. Referee: Tom Reeves. Attendance 3127.
Sunday, May 13, 3pm - Hampton & Richmond Borough v Braintree Town
Hampton & RB finished 4th in the Vanarama National League South on 72 points. Their home record this season is: P 21 W 9 D 11 L 1 GF 30 GA 16 Pts 38. Last 4 home results: Won 3-1 v Truro C (P-O), Drew 1-1 v Truro C., Drew 1-1 v Gloucester C, Drew 1-1 v Welling, Drew 1-1 v Braintree T. Top scorers this season: Max Kretzschmar - 17 (5p), Bradley Hudson-Odoi - 10 (1p), Charlie Wassmer - 8.
Braintree Town finished 6th the Vanarama National League South on 69 points. Braintree's away record this season is: P 21 W 8 D 7 L 6 GF 33 GA 32 Pts 31. Braintree T last 4 away games: Won 0-1 v Dartford (P-O), Drew 0-0 v Hemel Hempstead T (P-O), Won 1-2 v Truro C, Won 0-1v Hungerford T. Top Braintree Town Scorers: Billy Crook - 11 (7p), Luke Allen & Reece Grant - 7, Marcel Barrington - 6.
This seasons meetings: 19 August 2017 Braintree T 2 (Roberts, Crook (pen)) Hampton & RB 1 & 24 March 2018 Hampton & RB 1 Braintree T 1 (Barrington).
Both meetings this season featured sending offs. In our home fixture it was Borough's Joe Cook who was dismissed after denying Wynter a goal scoring opportunity. When the Iron went to the Beveree Stadium in March, it was the Iron's turn to finish the game 2 players short. Billy Crook was the first to leave the playing field for a raised foot challenge in the 31st minute. Despite being a man down, Braintree took the lead with 12 minutes remaining. Luke Allen led a Braintree counter attack running from outside his own area well into the home team's half, before releasing the ball down the left to Thompson, who put in a low cross that was met on the run by Barrington. Borough equalised 3 minutes later following an attack down their left flank. Two Braintree players were unable to prevent a low cross reaching the 6 yard box where the ball somehow evaded McDonald and was stabbed home from close range by Wynter. The Iron were reduced to 9 men in added time when Luke Allen picked up his second yellow of the afternoon.
Unlike our previous two play-off matches, we now face a team we have beaten this season. Our hosts were the lowest scoring team in the top 7 with 58 goals. Defensively, their record of defeats was only matched by champions Havant with six losses. They drew more games than any other VNLS team (18) and were second, again behind Havant, in goals conceded (37).
In the play-offs, they faced Truro C for the second week running, eventually overcoming them in extra time. A penalty from top-scorer Kretzschmar was enough to beat our neighbours Chelmsford C who had themselves been reduced to 10 men after Barnum-Bobb had handled on the goal line in the semi-final play-off.
Hopefully we'll see a game where all 22 players remain on the pitch and the in form Iron give a good account of themselves as they battle to return the Club to the National League after one season's absence.
Sunday, May 13, 3pm - Hampton & Richmond Borough v Braintree Town
Promotion Final Tickets currently only available on line at: www.buytickets.at/hrbfc.
For those fans unable to use this facility, we can order on line at the Club on your behalf if you call in and see us with your payment card and provide name and date of birth of all people you want to purchase tickets for.
The Club office and Club shop will be open all this week from:
Wednesday 9th - 10.30 am - 4.30 pm
Thursday 10th - 10.30 am - 8.30pm (Club house open 7.30 till late )
Friday 11th - 10.30am - 4.30 pm
Saturday 12th - 10.30 am - 4.30 pm
Also the club shop will be open the same times, with an end of season sale and many items at half price - so pop along and grab an orange bargain!
Sunday, May 13, 3pm - Hampton & Richmond Borough v Braintree Town
The following arrangements have been implemented for next Sunday's match.
It has been decided that the match will be ALL TICKET and tickets can only be ordered online via the following link: www.buytickets.at/hrbfc. Tickets should be printed out and presented at the turnstiles on the day.
Admission will be: £12 adult, £7 concessions, £3 u16s & u5 free. Please note: There will be a £1.25 booking fee for tickets purchased online.
Disabled access can be obtained by contacting the club in advance, on email@example.com. Carers will be admitted free where required.
Overflow parking will be available on a first-come-first-served basis, so come early to avoid disappointment. Stewards will direct drivers to the location.
We understand that some rail disruption is likely next Sunday due to engineering work and Iron supporters may wish to contact the Independent Supporters Club on 07950 614908 for news on coaches which, we understand, will depart for Hampton at 11am on Sunday.
Hampton away on Sunday
Braintree Town reached the Vanarama South Promotion Final with a single-goal victory at Dartford on Saturday. Having drawn at home and away in the league against the Kent club it was always going to be a tight game.
While Iron had much of the possession during a nervy first forty-five minutes, the home side had arguably the better chances. Nathan McDonald had to be at his best to deny Ronnie Vint who saw his shot superbly saved by Braintree's number one after twenty minutes.
Moments later a teasing cross from Diaz Wright on the left just evaded the unmarked Billy Crook at the far post.
On the half hour Crook tried his luck, but failed to hit the target, while Alfie Pavey really should have done better with his header at the back post just before the break.
Six minutes after the re-start Reece Grant unlocked the Dartford defence to break through one on one with home keeper Berti Sckotterl, but Grant was denied by a well timed tackle outside the box.
Substitute Roman Michael-Percil replaced Grant on the hour and could have opened the scoring on 70 minutes when he broke through the Dartford defence, only to see his snap shot well blocked by Sckotterl.
But a minute later the goal finally came. Jon Muleba broke forward on the right before cutting inside. He fed the ball into the Dartford penalty area where a number of players tried to shoot or block before the ball fell to Crook who beat Sckotterl from close range.
Wright could have added a second with his effort from all of 25 yards with ten minutes to go, but it was well gathered by Sckotterl.
The home side thought they had a good claim for a penalty four minutes from time after a cross into the box struck Luke Allen, but appeals were waived away by the referee.
In the four minutes of time added on Dartford's Ryan Hayes tried his luck at the back post, but his effort sailed high and wide into the crowd.
At the final whistle celebrations followed and Iron now travel to fourth-placed Hampton & Richmond Borough for the Promotion Final next Sunday, 13th May, with kick-off at 3pm.
Braintree: McDonald, Muleba, Gabriel, Hill, Okoye, Wright, Allen (Frimpong 90+3), Crook, Grant (Michael-Percil 60), Thompson, Barrington (Wyatt 83). Un-used subs: Aldridge, Bettache. Attendance 1704.
Dartford v Braintree T - Vanarama National League Play-Off Semi-Final
Dartford finished 2nd in the Vanarama National League South on 86 points. Their home record this season is: P 21 W 15 D 3 L 3 GF 51 GA 20 Pts 48. Last 4 home results: Won 2-0 v Bath C, Won 3-1 v Weston-Super-Mare, Won 1-0 v Hampton & RB, Won 3-2 v Hemel Hempstead T. Top scorers this season: Alfie Pavey - 22, Elliot Bradbrook - 16(4p), Andy Pugh - 13.
Braintree Town finished 6th the Vanarama National League South on 69 points. Braintree's away record this season is: P 21 W 8 D 7 L 6 GF 33 GA 32 Pts 31. Braintree T last 4 away games: Drew 0-0 v Hemel Hempstead T, Won 1-2 v Truro C, Won 0-1v Hungerford T, Lost 2-1 v St Albans C. Top Braintree Town Scorers: Billy Crook- 10 (7p), Luke Allen & Reece Grant - 7, Marcel Barrington - 6.
This seasons meetings: 8 August 2017 Braintree T 2 (Oliyide, Crook (p)) Dartford 2 & 23 December 2017 Dartford 1 Braintree T 1 (Barrington)
Both meetings this season have been tightly contested affairs. Hosting Dartford in our first home game of the campaign, the Iron took a two-nil lead before the Darts rallied to share the points. In the return fixture just before Christmas, it was the home side that took the lead on 17 minutes, Pugh cut in from the left wing, evading several attempted tackles, before driving home low from a tight angle. McDonald was to deny the hosts from extending their lead with two good saves, one at point blank range with his feet. The equaliser came just before half time, Oliyide played in Gabriel down the left side of the penalty box, the full back drove on to the by-line and cut back a low cross which was met with a powerful low shot from Barrington at the far post. Despite the Iron controlling most of the second period, it ended all square.
Dartford were pipped for the title on goal difference by Havant & Waterlooville, this despite racking up nine successive victories on their run-in. Darts were the League's top scorers finding the back of the net on 81 occasions.
The Iron progressed to the semi-finals of the play-offs after an energy sapping 120 minutes football on a soft pitch; followed by a nerve jangling penalty shoot-out. Much elation (and relief) followed and now we go to what will arguably be our hardest test so far. Good luck to Brad and all his staff and players in keeping the dream alive.
McDonald saves Shulton penalty in shoot out
Braintree Town are through to the semi-finals of this season's Vanarama National League South promotion play-offs after a dramatic finale to last night's goal-less draw at Hemel Hempstead.
There was little to separate the two sides in an engaging end-to-end tie that lasted more than two hours.
The winner was ultimately decided by the taking of kicks from the penalty mark and, after Marcel Barrington and Luke Allen had converted their two kicks, it was former Iron player Scott Shulton that gave Iron fans in the 1165 crowd hope when his spot-kick was superbly saved by keeper Nathan McDonald.
Although our third kick was also unsuccessful, Hemel then missed their last two kicks which, combined with a successful third for Iron saw Iron through.
The game itself swung from end to end. McDonald used his legs well to deny Moyo after ten minutes, before Thompson's long-range effort zipped just wide of the target eight minutes later. Just after the half hour Sanchez-Watt opened up the Iron defence, but saw his effort found the side-netting.
After the break Iron upped their game and both Reece Grant and Barrington testing the home defence. But Hemel were also dangerous on the break with McDonald reacting quickly to deny Moyo's shot.
Wright broke through the home defence mid-way through the second half and was crudely brought down by Parkes who was fortunate to escape with just a caution.
Late on saw both sides push forward with a dipping effort from Josh Hill just looping over the crossbar, but neither side could break the deadlock - so the game entered extra-time.
Moyo saw his header come close five minutes into the extra thirty for the home side, before Marcel set up Allen who's shot needed a superb save from home keeper Walker to prevent the first goal.
Iron looked to have a valid penalty appeal four minutes into the second fifteen of extra time when he was pulled down from behind, but the match referee has having none of it.
As penalties loomed, Thompson and Rick Gabriel combined to score but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Braintree: McDonald, Muleba, Gabriel, Hill, Okoye, Wright, Allen, Crook (Wyatt 70), Grant, Thompson (Michael-Percil 80), Barrington. Un-used suns: Aldridge, Bettache, Frimpong. Referee: Will Finney. Attendance: 1165.
Next up for Iron is a Vanarama National League South promotion play-off semi-final away at Dartford this coming Sunday, 6th May, with kick-off at 3pm. Admission prices for this match are as follows: Adults £14, Concessions £7, Youth £5, Junior £2, Under 5s Free.