Braintree want swift response while Chelmsford look to build

LEAGUE leaders Braintree Town will be looking to bounce straight back when they visit Havant and Waterlooville tonight (7.45pm ko).

Their lead at the top of the Blue Square Bet South has been cut to four points although they still have a game in hand on second placed Ebbsfleet United.

But manager Rod Stringer is arguably facing his biggest test this season with Town without a win in their last three matches - culminating in a 2-1 defeat at Farnbrough which saw both Jai Reason and Ollie Thorne sent off.

And the Braintree boss has a striker crisis with Cliff Akurang currently his only recognisable marksman for tonight’s match,

Leading scorer Sean Marks has been playing through the pain barrier, Jamie Guy is a long-term absentee while tonight represents the first of Stefan Payne’s three-game ban.

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Stringer said: “It is very hard trying to get proven people in rather than youngsters. I could bring in a young lad from the likes of Southend but, to be fair, that’s not what we need at the moment.

“Replacing the likes of Jamie Guy is not easy and we will just wait and see what becomes available.”

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Regardless, it has been a fantastic season for Braintree thus far and the success has not just been confined to the pitch. The club revealed that they are anticipating breaking even for the 2010/11 campaign.

Combining the two is a pretty laudable feat and one that has understandably delighted chairman Lee Harding – even if he admitted breaking even was not particularly “sexy news” for the supporters.

Harding said: “They’re only an indication at present but, in a time of national austerity, a set of break-even figures are exactly what we strive for at our club.

“Looking back, we had to make some very tough decisions to secure the long-term future last summer, but those decisions have allowed us to build this season on solid foundations.”

- Meanwhile, Chelmsford won their first game in six on Saturday when they hammered Lewes 4-0 at the Melbourne Stadium.

Positive results elsewhere mean City are straight back in the promotion hunt and tonight they host a Dover Athletic side four points and four places below them in a congested top eight (7.45pm ko).

Skipper David Rainford believes the clash has all the ingredients for a cracking match saying: “It’s two teams at the top end of the table and two of the teams who I felt in the game earlier in the season looked to play football.

“Both are quite attacking and like to use wing play. The pitch is a bit lively so there will be plenty of pace out there and plenty of enthusiasm.”

Dover’s formidable away form clashes with Chelmsford’s supreme record at Melbourne and the quality in their ranks will make sure they are a severe threat to manager Glenn Pennyfather’s team.

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