Braintree puts faith in new-look strikeforce for final promotion push
IT might seem a strange time to make wholesale changes to your frontline.
Five games to go, one point clear, as the race for conference football seems set to go down to the wire.
But after injuries and departures depleted Rod Stringer’s entire strikeforce, he had little choice as Braintree Town looked to seal promotion from the Blue Square Bet South.
In the space of six short weeks, Cliff Akurang, Nathan Pinney, Roy Essandoh and Kevin Gallen have all been signed as Stringer looks to find the right blend of experience and youth to clinch the title.
Gallen is of course the marquee signature having played more than 170 times for QPR before spells at Huddesfield, Barnsley, MK Dons and Luton Town.
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Stringer was understandably delighted to secure the services of the former England Under-21 striker, especially as it comes at the same time as leading scorer Sean Marks has returned from injury.
It has all made for a busy and often frustrating time for the league leaders who have perhaps predictably stuttered of late.
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The manager hopes the introduction of Gallen will provide some vital experience at a key time for his young side.
Stringer said: “We tried to get Kevin before but he is still doing a lot of work with QPR. But I spoke to him on deadline day and said we were in the last chance saloon and asked him if he wanted to come on board.
“Kevin has been a top pro and he will do a specific job for us as he is a very clever player. He only played a half against Dorchester last Saturday but he was top class.”
Three wins from nine games has allowed the chasing pack to catch up on Braintree, headed by Farnborough who have gone 11 matches unbeaten and now sit just a point behind the frontrunners.
But the championship remains, just about, in Braintree’s hands – five wins from their last five games and Town will be playing conference football next season.
“It is great that it is still in our hands, especially after all the problems we have had upfront with injuries,” Stringer reflected. “Sean coming back will make a big difference and we saw that on Tuesday night (Marks scored a beauty in the 2-0 home win against Boreham Wood). Cliff Akurang has also been superb since he signed and we have Roy and Nat Pinney too. It is good to have options again.”