Braintree Town dumped out of FA Trophy
BRAINTREE Town were dumped out of the FA Trophy, at the first hurdle, by Blue Square Bet South strugglers Havant & Waterlooville at Cressing Road last night.
The Iron paid a heavy price for a below-par first-half display, which left them trailing 2-0 at half-time via a 16th-minute penalty by Christian Nanetti and a 37th-minute header by Stefan Bailey.
Sean Marks halved the deficit early in the second half, but the Iron could not fashion an equaliser, despite dominating the rest of the game.
The visitors, clad in bright pink and managed by former Bournemouth boss Lee Bradbury, have a second-round tie at Grimsby as their reward.
This was Iron’s fourth defeat on the bounce, although it was their first game for two weeks.
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Manager Alan Devonshire had selected his strongest possible side, with only veteran midfielder Bradley Quinton missing through injury.
And Iron had a couple of chances before they fell behind to Nanetti’s spot kick.
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Adam Bailey-Dennis had his head in his hands, after failing to divert home an eighth-minute free-kick by Dan Sparkes. It had only required a touch from the ex-Colchester trainee centre-half.
Two minutes later and Marks, sporting a head bandage to protect a recent gashed forehead, nodded narrowly over the bar from a corner by Sparkes.
But Braintree could not cash in on their early dominance, and it was the visitors who took the lead via Nanetti’s 16th-minute spot kick.
Nanetti was hauled down by Sam Habergham, just inside the box, to concede a clear-cut penalty, and the Italian picked himself up to beat keeper Danny Naisbitt from the spot.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Braintree, and while Habergham was receiving treatment off the pitch, the visitors doubled their lead on 37 minutes.
Defender Bailey ghosted in at the far post to head home Chris Arthur’s deep cross from point blank range.
The home side stepped up a gear just before the break. Kenny Davis warmed Clark Masters’ hands with a goalbound drive, and in first-half stoppage time Marks headed just a foot over the bar from Holman’s teasing cross.
The Iron continued that momentum into the second period, and they pulled a goal back when Marks turned home Holman’s cross-cum-shot from close in on 51 minutes.
Only a goal-line clearance denied Braintree an equaliser in the 54th minute. Matt Paine headed on a corner, which was helped on by Bailey-Dennis, only for Jake Newton to head away from beneath the bar.
Iron searched in vain for a late equaliser in the final half-hour.
BRAINTREE: Naisbitt, Paine, Wells, Bailey-Dennis, Habergham (sub Peters, 38), Mulley, Symons, Davis, Sparkes (sub Sheppard, 83), Holman (sub Cowan, 69) Marks. Unused subs: Daley, Hunt. Attendance: 192