Braintree Town, the ‘pub team from Essex’ who continue to defy the odds
- Credit: Archant
The ‘pub team from Essex’ continue to defy the odds in the top-tier of the non-league game.
Braintree Town fans delight in chanting tongue-in-cheek self-depreciation as their low-budget, part-time players carry on doing both them and manager Alan Devonshire proud.
Once patronisingly dismissed as brave and plucky by big-spending opponents, you get the feeling that the Iron – now in their third successive season in the Skrill Premier – have become seen as the annoying wasp that won’t go away.
Forest Green became the latest side to be frustrated on Saturday after they were held to a 1-1 draw at The Amlin Stadium.
The Gloucestershire club have been backed significantly by millionaire chairman Dale Vince; the wages paid to their front three equalling that of the entire Braintree squad.
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And the visitors must have thought they were in for a routine win when taking the lead in the sixth minute, Yan Klukowski’s deep free-kick causing havoc in the box and James Norwood claiming the slightest of final touches as the swerving ball barely changed flight on its way into the far corner of the net.
It was one-way traffic for a spell as Nathan McDonald tipped over a rasping Norwood shot and Ryan Peters cleared off the line from the same player.
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However, Braintree dug deep and began fighting for every loose ball. And as a result, Forest Green players lost their heads during an ill-tempered few minutes, with both Chris Stokes and Klukowski booked.
Braintree capitalised on the game-changing spell, their equaliser arriving in the 45th minute via a penalty.
When Luke Daley’s shot was blocked by the hands of Stokes the incident looked right on the edge of the box, but a spot-kick penalty was awarded and skipper Kenny Davis took full advantage.
In the last action of the half, Paine’s thumping header from a corner drew a superb reflex stop out of keeper Sam Russell.
The second half was a much better spectacle and both sides may feel they deserved all three points.
Norwood missed an absolute sitter, rolling the ball wide of an empty net after rounding the indecisive McDonald, while the latter also made an excellent save from Klukowski’s close-range snap shot.
Braintree’s two tricky widemen, James Mulley and Daley, were proving a handful though and the home side finished the stronger.
Right-back Peters should have pulled the ball back when he forced a smart double stop out of Russell at the near post, while Daley side-footed a good chance over following good work by sub striker Jordan Cox.
Forest Green Rovers boss Dave Hockady – whose side thumped Hyde 8-0 on the opening day of the campaign – did what many other bosses have done and repeated the myth that Braintree are some sort of anti-football side that are only able to survive through bullying tactics on the pitch. Don’t be fooled by the lazy stereotype though – it’s just sour grapes.
Braintree Town (4-4-2): McDonald; Peters, Paine, Massey, Habergham; Daley (Carney 78), Davis, Isaac, Mulley; Marks, Enver-Marum (Cox 69).
Unused subs: Hamann, O’Connor, Griffiths.
Forest Green Rovers (4-3-3): Russell; Hodgkiss, Bennett, Oshodi, Stokes; Bangura, Klukowski (Koroma 88), Barry; Norwood, Wright (Turley 70), Taylor (Mangan 56). Unused subs: Asafu-Adaye, Brogan.
Referee: Amy Fearn