The hosts poured forward in the early exchanges as they looked to put pressure on Will Fuller’s goal, the shotstopper stepping in for the injured Ryan Clarke. The first opening fell to Femi Akinwande in the 3rd minute, but his effort was wide of Fuller’s near post. The keeper then did extremely well five minutes later to block Alfie Payne’s close range shot after the ball had been played in from the left.
The visitors were beginning to cause problems for the Town defence with quick forward raids and balls into space over the top. Cody Cooke had a sight of goal after 14 minutes, but his deflected shot from the edge of the area was comfortably held by home custodian Preston Edwards. As the game approached its 25th minute, Cooke had a clear sight of goal, only to be denied by a brilliant blocking save by Edwards. In the event, the goal would not have counted due to a belatedly raised offside flag.
The main threat from Braintree was coming from corner kicks, and exceedingly long throw-in’s from Matthew Johnson. However, Fuller was called upon to keep out a half volley by Arjanit Krasniqi from the edge of the area and then, on the half hour mark, the City keeper did well to turn Giovanni Crichlow’s firm angled shot round his post at the expense of another corner.
The Romans’ enterprise was rewarded on 34 minutes when Jack Batten’s long ball into the Braintree box was won by Alex Fletcher, whose header struck the raised arm of Ezra Ikbuasi. The referee, Mr. Oliver Mackey, pointed to the spot without hesitation, and Cooke took full toll by sending Edwards the wrong way from 12 yards.
The Iron pushed forward in search of a response and almost found success from another long throw from Johnson. Fuller managed to punch the ball out, but only as far as Krasniqi, who clipped his shot from inside the box over the bar.
The home side emerged after the break with renewed vigour and immediately put the City defence under pressure. Substitute Luke Holness saw his shot from distance deflected for the first of a couple of corners, the second of which brought an equaliser on 47 minutes. Fuller failed to reach the ball into the six-yard box, and Johnson took advantage by hooking his shot into the net from close range.
City responded positively and were back in front in the 51st minute. Marlee Francois produced a raking cross-field pass that picked out Elliott Frear on the left wing, and his low cross into the area was handled by Corey Davidson. Mr. Mackey once again awarded a penalty kick, and Cooke repeated his earlier performance by sending Edwards the wrong way with his spotkick. Whilst the first penalty was hotly disputed, there was little argument from the home contingent in respect of the second.
The Somerset side continued to defend stoutly as high balls rained into their box, but they remained the more likely to add to the scoreline. A slick move on the hour mark concluded with an inviting cross from the left by Frear that was met with a firm Cooke header. Edwards threw himself upwards to make an outstanding save as he tipped the devilishly looping ball over his crossbar. Omar Holness then nodded another Frear cross wide of the target.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Braintree won a freekick in a dangerous position on the edge of the City box, but Davidson’s effort was repelled by the defensive wall. At the other end, Tom Smith’s angled effort found the outside of the side-netting, before Mo Touray replaced the excellent Cooke in the 75th minute.
Davidson volleyed high over Fuller’s goal frame following a left wing cross and, on 77 minutes, the keeper did well to push away a powerful shot from distance by Akinwande. However, Touray was beginning to have an influence as his pace troubled the Town rearguard., and he curled a shot just wide of Edwards’ post. He caused more problems with a swift break into the Braintree half in the 82nd minute and played the ball to Fletcher, who could only shoot straight at Edwards.
Touray came close to stretching his side’s lead with three minutes to go, but his mazy run into the area concluded with his shot running agonisingly wide of the far post. This was almost costly when Akinwande burst through on goal a minute later, but Fuller narrowed the angle well and produced a useful blocking save.
The game was finally made safe on 89 minutes following another Touray breakaway and, this time, Fletcher made no mistake by drilling his shot across Edwards and into the far corner of the net.
There is no doubt that this was a tough game against physical and direct opponents, and the City defence needed to stay resolute against a sustained aerial bombardment. However, they always posed a threat up front and, in the end, their greater incision proved decisive. The home side will, no doubt, feel harshly treated by the first penalty award, but the referee appeared to reach the correct decision based on the current laws of the game. City will now need to take the confidence from today’s victory into next week’s important FA Cup tie at Shaftesbury.
Braintree Town: Preston Edwards, Ezra Ikbusasi, Jay Porter, Matthew Johnson, Kyran Clements, Luke Pennell, Giovanni Crichlow, Alfie Payne, Femi Akinwande, Arjanit Krasniqi, Correy Davidson. Subs: Jamal Balogun, Billy Johnson, Harry Hope, Luke Holness, Melos Ajvazi.
Bath City: Will Fuller, Joe Raynes, Ben Gerring, Jack Batten, Elliot Frear, Omar Holness, Tom Smith, Josh Owers, Alex Fletcher, Cody Cooke (Mo Touray 75 mins), Marlee Francois. Subs not used: Dan Ball, Harley Wilkinson, Lloyd James, Tom Richards.
Referee: Mr. Oliver Mackey
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Beau Nash and pete mac like this post
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The lowlight were the awful PA announcemnts, best described by Yuffie on the NLS forum…
my hearing has just about recovered from Braintree's ridiculously loud announcer, which might explain their small crowds as you could probably hear him in the centre of the town, so keep track of the goals that way.
Let’s all hope that the excellent attitude and determination shown by City yesterday is matched in next Saturday’s vital cup match.
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First penalty I thought was harsh, second looked nailed on. Their Twitter has effectively blamed the defeat on two controversial penalties and ignoring the fact that while they are a hard working side, there’s little creativity. Not that it’s easy to pass on that pitch. Thought we deserved the win.
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