Braintree Town suffer play-off heartbreak as they miss out on Wembley trip following extra-time loss to Grimsby
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ten-man Braintree’s stunning season came to a heartbreaking end this afternoon as they missed out on a place at Wembley following a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Grimsby, after extra-time.
Leading 1-0 following Thursday’s National League play-off semi-final first leg, the Iron protected their advantage for 75 minutes as the visiting Mariners piled on the pressure, but Padraig Amond’s penalty in normal time followed by the dismissal of Mark Phillips, left the part-timers with a tough task heading into extra-time.
The continued pressure eventually told as Omar Bogle headed home Jon Nolan’s free-kick with just over 10 minutes to go, to secure a 2-0 second-leg win go to take his side to Wembley on aggregate.
The home players were out on their feet at full-time at the end of a stunning season which saw the part-timers finish third in the National League table, before this afternoon’s heartbreaking finish.
It was the visitors who had the first effort of the afternoon, as Bogle saw a shot easily gathered by Iron keeper Tom King, before Matt Paine saw a shot blocked as the hosts looked to regain control.
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However it was Grimsby who really took the game by the scruff of the neck as they peppered the Braintree box with well-placed crosses. First, Matt Fry had to turn Bogle’s ball behind for a corner, which led to the Grimsby striker heading straight at King, before a succession of corners saw Braintree under further pressure.
The Iron were starting to sit back and invite the visitors onto them, with all but Michael Cheek behind the ball when the Mariners had possession, gifting the Grimsby midfield time when on the ball.
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Nolan lashed a shot out the ground before King had to react quickly to push a header from Disley away, before a rare Braintree foray forward saw Kenny Davis have a shot blocked.
The hosts were on the front foot again before the break, as Simeon Akinola broke following a superb tackle from Paine, but again the move ended with Davis seeing a shot blocked before the half-time whistle went.
The hosts started the second half in a more positive manner and Cheek’s early shot had to be dealt with by Grimsby keeper James McKeown, before a nervy moment in their own penalty area as King spilled Amond’s shot, before Sean Long did well to clear up.
The Grimsby pressure had been building and it finally told with 15 minutes to go. A corner into the box saw Bogle tumble to the turf as a number of players attacked the ball, with referee Simon Bennett pointing to the spot. Amond sent King the wrong way to level the scores.
Bogle then headed over the top as the visitors smelt blood, before firing a shot back off the inside of the post as the away support thought their side had taken the lead.
Still Grimsby pushed Braintree back, with Davis surviving penalty appeals following a challenge on Nolan and centre-backs Phillips and Fry throwing their bodies at the constant stream of balls into the box.
The battle got harder for the Iron after Phillips was sent off for a second yellow card, following a trip on Bogle, but they survived the final moments to take the contest to extra-time.
The Grimsby onslaught continued, with King most notably having to save well from substitute Nathan Arnold, as the Iron reached the end of the first extra period still level.
The deciding goal came just a few minutes into the second period after Marks, a makeshift centre-half, fouled Marshall in the middle of the field, with Bogle beating King to the ball to head home Nolan’s free-kick.
The Grimsby fans flocked onto the field as Bogle whipped off his shirt to celebrate, and they saw out the final 10 minutes to take their place at Wembley.