Braintree Town 3
Bailey-Dennis 5, Marks 70, Gibson (pen) 90
The Town's winless run in the Blue Square Bet Premier was extended to six games after a disappointing defeat at Braintree.
The hosts took the lead in the fifth minute when Adam Bailey-Dennis outjumped Mark Tyler to nod home but two minutes later the Hatters were level when Andre Gray finished well.
Braintree had a goal ruled out and hit the post in the first half as they went in search of a second goal before half-time.
After Town began brightly after the break but Sean Marks headed the hosts back in front on 70 minutes when unmarked at the back post.
And things got worse in injury time for the Hatters when Marks won a penalty and Billy Gibson fired past Tyler.
The Town began showing three changes to the side that lost last time out to York City. There were starts for Andre Boucaud, Aaron O'Connor
and Shane Blackett. Danny Crow, Robbie Willmott and Godfrey Poku were the trio to miss out. Poku was, however, on the bench.
With Paul Buckle in the stands, the new manager - who will take over officially on Sunday - watched on as Braintree took a fifth-minute lead. It was simple in it's excution. A ball from the right was hung up high in the Town's penalty area, Tyler came and missed his attempted punch and Bailey-Dennis, the tallest man on the pitch, got above the goalkeeper to head home.
Hurt by going behind so early it was vital that the Town hit back immediately. Two minutes later that's precisely what happened. O'Connor did well in the penalty area to cause confusion amongst the Braintree defence which allowed the loose ball to roll in the direction of Gray who ruthlessly finished from 10 yards, slipping the ball under the body of Nathan McDonald for his third goal in as many matches since joining from Hinckley.
Braintree, safe in mid-table and enjoying a fine season since their promotion last year, came close twice in the space of three minutes to retake the lead when Marks nodded wide on 12 minutes before his strike partner Ben Wright found the side-netting two minutes later.
O'Connor, creator of the Town's first goal then came close to putting his side ahead for the first time when he headed over a difficult chance following Alex Lawless' right-wing free-kick.
It was end-to-end and entertaining stuff as both sides pressed for a second goal. On 20 minutes Braintree thought they'd got their noses in front once more when Marks' header beat Tyler but the celebrations were cut short when the referee spotted a foul in the six-yard box.
Braintree were having the better of the ball but the Hatters were looking a threat on the break but the hosts felt aggreived on the half-hour when they thought Boucaud's foul on Aswad Thomas took place in the penalty area. The officials didn't agree and from the resultant free-kick Wright's effort clipped the top of the Town wall.
Neither goalkeeper had really been fully extended but that all changed two minutes before the break when Tyler produced a fine save to tip Kenny Davis' rasping 25-yard effort onto the post. Braintree protested in vain that their skipper's effort had been stopped by the Hatters' number one as the referee signalled for a goal-kick.
After a whirlwind start to the first half it was almost the same at the beginning of the second when O'Connor missed a glorious chance to put the Hatters ahead seven minutes after the restart. Thomas' poor back-header presented O'Connor with the chance to run through on goal but, with time and space on his side, he could only force Nathan McDonald, the Braintree goalkeeper, into a point-blank save.
The Town were playing some tidy football, having changed tact at half-time and going 4-4-2, but they almost fell behind for the second time just after the hour when Matt Paine's goal-bound free-kick, heading towards the top corner, was caught brilliantly by Tyler.
The Iron had slowly but surely crept back into the game having withstood pressure from the Town and, on 70 minutes, they took the lead for a second time with another header. Wright's deep free-kick found strike partner Marks unmarked and his deft flick beat an exposed Tyler from six yards.
After that set-back the Town huffed and puffed in search of a second equaliser, with striker Stuart Fleetwood thrown on for Lawless with 14 minutes left.
The Hatters came close to finding an equaliser two minutes from time when Curtis Osano poked a shot at goal that McDonald fumbled but, before Gray could tuck home the rebound, Braintree cleared.
That was to be the Hatters' last chance and, in injury time, the hosts compounded their misery by scoring a third goal. With the Town committed going forward, Marks broke downfield, was upended by Osano and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Gibson who converted from 12 yards to seal victory for the Iron.
Minute-by-minute analysis see below.
Braintree Town&nbsp;3 (Bailey-Dennis 5, Marks 70, Gibson (pen) 90))
Luton Town 1 (Gray 7)
FULL-TIME All over here, another defeat for the Town. Report, reaction and photographs to follow.
90 mins + 2 &nbsp;GOAL! BRAINTREE 3-1 Town (Gibson) Tyler goes the right way but BILLY GIBSON fires past low past Tyler. 3-1, game over.
90 mins - PENALTY TO BRAINTREE. Osano on Marks. Gibson to take.
88 mins - Chance for 2-2, Osano pokes a shot at goal which is spilled by McDonald but before Gray can turn home the loose ball, the hosts hack it clear for a corner.
87 mins - Almost 3-1, Wright smashing a low left-foot effort from 15 yards that Tyler gets his hands to. Good stop. Time ticking here for the Town.
85 mins - Last five now...
80 mins - Last 10 minutes here. Town pushing for a second equaliser. The attendance is 1,703 which includes 882 shouting for the Hatters.
76 mins Third and final sub for the Town as Lawless is replaced by Stuart Fleetwood.
70 mins &nbsp;GOAL! BRAINTREE 1-0 Town (Marks) - They've been on top this half but now the Hatters are behind for the second time. A long, high free-kick from Ben Wright finds his strike partner SEAN MARKS unmarked in the box to head home past an exposed Tyler.
66 mins Second change for the Town, Godfrey Poku on for Boucaud.
61 mins - Almost 2-1 Braintree, direct from a free-kick conceded by McAllister, Gibson steps up and curls an effort goalwards that is heading towards the top corner before Tyler dives to make a great catch.
60 mins First Town sub, O'Connor replaced&nbsp;by Craig McAllister.
55 mins - All the Hatters at the minute. Bossing things here.
54 mins - Almost another sight of goal for the Town, Howells attempts to slip O'Connor through again but it takes an awkward bounce when the striker is well placed and Braintree can clear.
52 mins - What a chance for 2-1 Town, O'Connor one-on-one with McDonald&nbsp;following Aswad Thomas' poor back-header. He's in on goal but the winner is the home goalkeeper who makes a decent stop.
48&nbsp;mins -&nbsp;By the way the Hatters have gone 442, Gray and O'Connor in attack, Boucaud and Keane in centre mid, Howells left-wing and Lawless on the right.
46 mins - Early sight of goal for the hosts in this second half but Matt Paine's effort is travelling well wide of the target.
46 mins And we're for the second half here. No changes at the break for either side.
HALF-TIME And that's the break here at the Amlin Stadium. The two goals seem an age ago. There have been a few scares but it's all square at the break. Check back in 15 minutes for the second half.
45 mins&nbsp;- We've got one added minute at the end of the first 45 here.
43 mins - Again the hosts go close, working the ball from Reason to Thomas who's unmarked down the left but his wild shot clears the crossbar.
43 mins - Wow, Tyler to the rescue to tip Kenny Davis' rasping 22-yard effort onto the post. The officials don't see if that way, though, and they award the Hatters a goal-kick.
39 mins - Both goalscorers in the book for grapling with each other 30 yards out. The first bookings of the afternoon.
35 mins - 10 minutes to the break now. Been a while since either goalkeeper was tested. The Town have probably shaded the last five minutes or so.
30 mins - Close call here, Boucaud fouls Aswad Thomas right on&nbsp;the edge of the area. Braintree protest that it was the in the box but a decision is a free-kick that is fired by Wright goalwards that clips the top of the Town wall and behind for a corner.
25 mins - 20 minutes to the break here, still one apiece, Braintree on top possession wise but the Town look a threat on the break.
20 mins - Goal for Braintree ruled, netted by Marks but chalked off for a foul on a Town defender, not sure who.
19 mins - End-to-end here as Braintree spurn another decent chance. Jai Reason scampers down the right to deliver a cross that Wright blasts over.
18 mins - Back come the Town this time, Gray using his pace to win a free-kick down the right which is bent in by Lawless and flicked over at the near post by the head of O'Connor.
14 mins - Half a sniff again for the Iron as the Town fail to clear their lines, Ben Wright steals in and, from an acute angle, hits the side-netting from close range.
12 mins - Back come Braintree, another dangerous cross from the right wing from Billy Gibson is met by Sean Marks who nods high and wide from six yards.
10 mins - That's three in three for the Hatters new striker.
7 mins &nbsp;GOAL! Braintree 1-1 TOWN (Gray) - It's all go here and within two minutes of going behind the Town are level. They press in the Braintree penalty area and, as the ball breaks loose, ANDRE GRAY picks up the pieces and finishes cooly from 10 yards. Make that one apiece.
5 mins &nbsp;GOAL! BRAINTREE 1-0 Town (Bailey-Dennis) - Not the start the Town want as they find themselves a goal down. A ball from the right into the box is met by ADAM BAILEY-DENNIS who outjumps Mark Tyler and nods home into an empty net.
2 mins&nbsp;- Town support on three sides of the ground here and the team are lining up 4-3-3 with Boucaud, Lawless and Keane in central midfield, O'Connor is on&nbsp;the right, Howells on the left and Gray down the middle.
1 min Annnnnnd we're off here as the Town kick-off. They're shooting towards their support behind the goal away to our right in this first half.
14:58 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS
Andrew Barringer: 2-1 Luton, Lauren Archell: 1-1, Mark Wood: 2-0, Mike Simmonds: 1-1, Bill Cole: 2-1, Simon Pitts: 3-1 Luton.
14:57 HERE THEY COME
Teams emerging&nbsp; here. Braintree in orange and blue, the Town in their navy blue away shirts.
14:50 FILLING UP
The ground is filling up now, you can't swing a cat in the Main Stand here, or in the press box. The away end is also pretty packed.
14:40 EXCUSE ME
Paul Buckle the Town's new manager as of tomorrow was refused entry into the ground. If you're name's not on the list you're not coming in.
However, he's managed to get in. Drama over!
14:25 THE TEAMS
Three changes for the Hatters: Andre Boucaud, Shane Blackett and Aaron O'Connor
Town: Tyler, Keane, Pilkington, Lawless, Blackett, O'Connor, Howells, Boucaud, Osano, Gray, Kovacs. Subs: Kissock, Watkins, Fleetwood, Poku, McAllister.
Braintree: McDonald, Thomas, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, Reason, Davis, Marks, Wright, O'Connor, Gibson, Wells. Subs: Peters, Quinton, Haxell, Pooley, Appiah-Kubi.
14:10 TOWN TRAVELLERS
882 tickets sold in the away end this afternoon. Braintree's average attendance is 852.
14:00 WELCOME TO BRAINTREE
Bit cold here now. The Amlin Stadium is a small ground with terracing on three sides. Team news should be with us in the next 15 minutes.
13:15 WEATHER WATCH
Arrived at the Amlin Stadium, aka Cressing Road. Plenty of cloud overhead. Sun is in and out at the minute.
12:00 EASTER IMPORTANCE
Just like Christmas, Easter is a crucial time for football clubs across the country.
Titles, promotion, play-off pushes or the fight to avoid relegation. Easter is the time when things get serious. Fail and you've blown your chance. Succeed and you're still on course, fans are still smiling through the nerves.
For the Hatters the next two games - today at Braintree and on Monday against Hayes &amp; Yeading - come at a time of transition.
Alan Neilson and Paul Carden are in caretaker change of the Town this afternoon before new manager Paul Buckle, who will be watching from the stands in Essex today, takes control on Easter Monday.
Sixth place isn't a position they want to be in. Given the circumstances, finishing anywhere in the top five come four weeks' time would be taken right now.
To do that the Town need to get back to winning ways and, if they're to be a success, they need not only a good Easter but a morale boosting run in their final seven matches in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
It won't be easy at Braintree today, indeed&nbsp; no team will make it a walk in the park between now and the&nbsp;end of the season. Of the final seven games, Hayes &amp; Yeading, Gateshead, Kidderminster and Fleetwood all have points to play for.&nbsp;Braintree are chasing a top-half finish while Alfreton are flying. They won at Wrexham yesterday.
As Buckle exclusively told lutontown.co.uk yesterday: "We're in it together."
Easter has notoriously been an Achilles heel for the Town in their 126 years of history.
Now it's time for a change.
Well, whatever happens today, and indeed throughout the season, your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way.
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