New boss watches defeat
Braintree Town 2
Marks 42, Davis 49
Newly-installed manager John Still watched on as the Hatters fell to a disappointing defeat at Braintree – to slip further in their quest to reach the top five.
It was two goals, from Sean Marks and Kenny Davis, in a seven-minute spell either side of the break that did the damage in a game that saw both sides finish the game with 10 men.
Caretaker boss Alan Neilson made two changes to the side that lost at home to Mansfield with Arnaud Mendy and Stuart Fleetwood given starts. Scott Neilson and Dave Martin both dropped to the bench.
With new manager John Still watching on from the stands, the Town started brightly, with Andre Gray’s pace down the right flank troubling the home defence.
However, there was little to note in a distinctly low-key first 15 minutes, but, just like last week at Macclesfield the Hatters’ opponents were reduced to 10 men. On this occasion Arnaud Mendy was on the receiving end of a nasty challenge by Matt Paine on 21 minutes.
Little continued to happen in front of goal as both teams struggled to create a clear-cut chance but, 13 minutes after Paine’s dismissal, referee Bull reached for a second red card of the night when giving Wayne Thomas his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident following a Town corner.
With both sides now down to 10 men it was the hosts that nosed in front three minutes before the break. Brett Holman weaved past Steve McNulty down the right, and his low cross was nonchalantly flicked home by Marks past Mark Tyler from a matter of yards.
The Town made a change at the break, introducing Greg Taylor for Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, but four minutes into second half the hosts doubled their lead. The Hatters failed clear their lines and Holman, the creator of the first goal, hung up a right-wing cross towards Davis, the home skipper, who was free at the back post to head past an exposed Tyler.
Introductions of Simon Ainge – for Mendy – and Scott Neilson – for the injured Scott Rendell – saw the Town test finally test home goalkeeper Nathan McDonald, but Gray’s header from close range was easy picking for the Iron number one shortly before the hour.
The stopper had to be alert on 69 minutes to keep out the Hatters’ best chance of the night when parrying Fleetwood’s low shot after the striker had burst into the penalty down the left.
Still the Town pushed for a way back into the game but found their path to goal blocked by a wall of orange Braintree shirts.
Braintree had barely threatened Tyler’s goal since their early second-half strike but James Mulley should have done better when scuffing a shot wide when well-placed with three minutes to go – and that was the last meaningful action on another miserable visit to Cressing Road.