Braintree Town assistant says it would be minor miracle if Iron stay up

Keith Rowland

Keith Rowland - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Braintree Town assistant manager Keith Rowland says staying in the Skrill Premier for a third, successive season would represent a “minor miracle”.

Today Iron host one of the division’s big spenders, Forest Green, a team expected to be challenging for promotion as a result of the money they have spent courtesy of millionaire chairman Dale Vince.

The team from Gloucestershire thumped Hyde 8-0 at the start of the season and have defeated Chester and Alfreton in their previous two league games to sit sixth in the division on 11 points.

However, they are only one point better off that Braintree who, having won at home only once this season, have earned valuable victories on the road at Macclesfield and Dartford.

Following comfortable mid-table finishes in their first two seasons at Premier Division level, further improvement at the end of the season could see Alan Devonshire’s side flirting with the play-offs.

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Rowland is keen on seeing the team continue to improve but says Town’s first target will be to reach 50 points, such is the off-field disparity between the sides.

“Forest Green have spent a bit of money and a lot of Football League teams are envious of them,” said Rowland.

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“In all honesty, three of their players (wages) probably total our budget for a week so there is added pressure on them.

“In our case if we improve again this season you could be talking about the play-offs.

“We have played six games and there are 40 to go and we have to be looking at reaching 50 points. Anything after that is a bonus.

“For us, if we can stay up on goal difference at the end of the season it would be a minor miracle, considering our budget which has not moved for three years.

“People only see eleven versus eleven and don’t see what we go through in terms of the facilities we have compared to Forest Green but we have to accept that and get on with it.”

Today’s visitors will be looking to inflict a third home defeat of the season on Iron, who Rowland believes are no longer seen as an easy target.

“Teams come here and don’t expect to win anymore,” said the ex- West Ham defender.

“They are coming here and being defensive and we have got to find a way of breaking teams down.

“Kidderminster, who will be one of the favourites for promotion, came the other week and put six men behind the ball away from home and I think teams are paying us more respect.”

Rowland and Devonshire will not be able to call on the services of midfielder Nicky Symons this afternoon who departed for Bishop’s Stortford this week.

“Nicky has been great for us and we did not want him to leave but his circumstances at home have changed,” said Rowland.

“You don’t get much loyalty in non-league but that is what he was all about.

I hope he does well at Bishop’s Stortford but he is welcome back at Braintree if things don’t work out.”

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