On your Marks, get set, Iron beat Luton!
Braintree Town 3 Luton Town 1
SEAN Marks headed home the crucial second goal as Braintree Town claimed another former Football League scalp, in the shape of visiting Luton this afternoon.
The Hatters, without a victory in eight games, can have few complaints as the Iron dictated for much of the afternoon, even though Adam Bailey-Dennis’ fifth minute opener had been cancelled out by Andre Gray’s equaliser.
Marks regained the lead in the 70th minute, and then won the penalty from which Billy Gibson netted an injury-time third.
Paul Buckle, Luton’s newly appointed manager, watched from the stands. The ex-Colchester United midfielder does not officially take over at Kenilworth Road until tomorrow, but he has his work cut out to rekindle Luton’s fast-fading play-off hopes.
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Braintree enjoyed the perfect start, taking the lead after just five minutes thanks to Bailey’ Dennis’ accurate header from a cross by Pat O’Connor.
But their lead lasted just 60 seconds. Andre Gray swept home the equaliser, a scrappy goal following some pinball in the Iron box after Aaron O’Connor’s initial shot had been blocked.
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The Hatters failed to build on this, and they were lucky to still be on level terms at the break as the Iron bossed possession and created by far the better chances.
Sean Marks headed over from an excellent position, following Billy Gibson’s teasing cross to the edge of the six-yard box on 15 minutes.
Four minutes later and Marks’ strike-force partner, Ben Wright, should have regained the lead for the hosts. Gibson’s cross-cum-shot was deflected into Wright’s path, but he opted for power rather than precision and his close-range volley flew over the bar.
Braintree thought they had scored in the 20th minute, when Marks ghosted in to head home Wright’s cross at the near post. But the goal was ruled out for a foul by Marks on the covering defender.
Alan Devonshire’s men were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark.
Aswad Thomas appeared to be chopped down in the box, from Wright’s cross, but referee Justin Amey ruled that the infringement had taken place just outside the box. Wright could not capitalise on the ensuing free-kick.
Three minutes before the interval, Kenny Davis rattled Luton’s post with a rasping 25-yarder. Keeper Mark Tyler seemed to touch the ball onto the upright, but the referee awarded a goal-kick.
Luton had a little more joy during the early stages of the second period and Nathan McDonald denied Aaron O’Connor with a wonderful save, on a one-on-one situation.
But Braintree held their nerve and Marks regained the lead with a deft header from Wright’s free-kick on 70 minutes.
Marks was then upended in the box by Curtis Osano in the 90th minute, enabling Gibson to wrap up the points with the third from the spot.
BRAINTREE TOWN: McDonald, P O’Connor, Wells, Bailey-Dennis, Thomas, Gibson, Davis, Paine, Reason, Marks (sub Peters, 90+1), Wright (sub Quinton, 87). Unused subs: Pooley, Appiah-Kubi, Haxell.
LUTON TOWN: Taylor, Osano, Kovacs, Pilkington, Blackett, Keane, Boucaud (sub Poku, 66), Lawless (sub Fleetwood, 76), A O’Connor (sub McAllister, 60), Gray, Howells. Unused subs: Fleetwood, Kissock, Watkins.
Referee: Justin Amey