Braintree Town almost cause Forest Green upset

Simeon Akinola wriggles through for Braintree against Forest Green

Simeon Akinola wriggles through for Braintree against Forest Green - Credit: Archant

Braintree Town manager Dan Cowley’s master plan to stifle their ambitious promotion-chasing hosts at The New Lawn on Saturday, by cramming his midfield with players to stop their free-flowing attacks and catching them on the counter-attack, almost paid off.

It took a solitary header by Jon Parkin, seven minutes into the second half to deny the Iron at least a share of the spoils in what was their first league game for nearly a month.

And although disappointed at not returning home with a point, Cowley was full of praise for his side.

He said: “Our boys were excellent and I was proud of them, in terms of their endeavour, attitude and application even though ultimately we came up a little short in the quality department, but there wasn’t much in it.”

The Iron certainly had the better of the first half with both Michael Cheek (header) and Simeon Akinola and Dan Sparkes (right-foot shots) going close to opening the scoring.

Cowley continued: “We were very good in the first half and arguably had the better chances but Forest Green Rovers are a fantastic team with outstanding financial resources, giving them a massive depth to their group.

“They had won their previous six league games at home and you don’t do that unless you’re a very good team.”

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He added: “We had our game plan and it was working well in the first half when we had a foothold and we always looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

“They score a lot of goals soon after half-time and we wanted to manage that period of the game better than we did but they came out quickly, forced us back and scored their goal.

“But I was pleased that we then stayed in the game and had some good moments. In the last 10 minutes we put them under pressure as we went for an equaliser.”

In that second period the Iron showed great character in coming back after going behind so early on and they had chances to equalise but Remy Clerima (header) and substitute Harry Anderson (shot) missed their chances. Even in the final minutes of the game as they pushed hard for that illusive equaliser the Iron just failed to find the net.

“I know we’re not scoring enough goals at present and it’s something we are trying to put right and we have now failed to score a goal in our last three league and cup games,” Cowley added.

“But we have to keep it all in perspective too because we’re a part-time club playing in the National League and here we have come so close to getting at least a point against a very well-organised full-time side that, by all accounts has a reported playing budget of £1.75m – exactly 10 times ourselves – as they desperately want to make it to the Football League

“That’s what we’re up against and while we enjoy the challenge, there has to be a bit of reality at the end of the day.”

Overall this was a much-improved all round Iron display compared to their two recent cup defeats which Cowley said he was pleased with adding:

“I feel it’s now coming together again with the more matches we play because we have not played regularly.”

The Iron’s next game is on Tuesday when they entertain Wrexham at the Avanti Stadium (7.45pm kick off).

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