Braintree Town bolster defensive ranks ahead of back-to-back home matches

Michael Cheek scores from the penalty spot against Solihull Moors last weekend, to chalk up his 17th

Michael Cheek scores from the penalty spot against Solihull Moors last weekend, to chalk up his 17th league goal of the season. Picture: ALAN STUCKEY - Credit: Archant

Braintree Town face two key home games, in the next four days, which could well decide their National League fate.

The Iron are four points clear of the drop zone, and in a good position to retain their non-league top-tier status into a seventh season.

And if they can pick up positive results at home to basement dwellers Southport tomorrow afternoon, and then against visiting Woking, who are fourth from bottom, on Tuesday evening, then the Essex club should be safe for another campaign.

Manager Hakan Hayrettin took steps to bolster his squad by recruiting 20-year-old centre-half Christian Mbulu on a short-term loan from Millwall on Thursday.

Mbulu has yet to make his senior debut for the Lions, but could well be in line for a first appearance for The Iron against struggling Southport this weekend.

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The Iron let a three-goal lead slip at Solihull Moors last Saturday, having to make do with a 3-3 draw, but league results have been more than adequate over the last four months.

In fact, they have lost just five of their last 17 league fixtures since suffering a 1-0 home defeat to Tranmere Rovers back on November 17.

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A week after that reverse to Rovers, The Iron clinched a thrilling 5-4 win at Southport, and so have a chance to complete a double over the Sandgrounders.

And with Michael Cheek bang in form – he bagged a brace at Solihull to boost his tally for the season to 17 league goals – the hosts will fancy their chances.

Cheek is actually the joint sixth highest scorer in the National League, a notable achievement in a lower-half-of-the-table side.

Meanwhile, National League South play-off candidates Chelmsford City face a tough trip to Wealdstone tomorrow afternoon.

The Clarets are safely installed in fourth, and so look set for the end-of-season play-offs – they are eight points clear of sixth-placed Hampton & Richard Borough.

Wealdstone are nursing play-off hopes of their own, and are unbeaten in their last eight league fixtures.

Clarets manager Rod Stringer said: “We’ve only lost five out of 33 league matches. The stats suggest that we have done quite well. On top of that, I don’t think our away form has been terrible.”

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