Iron grip loosened by Poppies

Kettering Town 2 Braintree Town 1

BRAINTREE Town slithered to their third defeat on the spin, beaten by struggling Kettering Town at Nene Park last night.

After six successive victories, which had propelled the Iron into a surprise second spot in the Blue Square Premier, Alan Devonshire’s men have now suffered three straight losses to Fleetwood, York and Kettering.

The Poppies, who had won just once at their new home before last night, grabbed the lead thanks to Adam Cunnington’s slick finish in the 55th minute.

Powerful striker Cunnington turned makeshift centre-half Pat O’Connor to sweep home a low shot into the far corner of the net.

The Iron were level within five minutes. Ben Wright whipped over an inch-perfect cross from the left flank and his strike-force partner Sean Marks gleefully headed into the roof of the net.

However, the Iron’s joy was short-lived. The visitors failed to clear their lines and Aman Verma scooped a 10-yard shot high into the net for what proved to be the winner in the 71st minute.

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Yet Braintree did have two great chances to poach an equaliser during the closing stages.

New recruit Dominic Vose, signed on a short-term loan from West Ham earlier in the day, was introduced as a 75th minute substitute and the 17-year-old made an immediate impact.

Vose, operating on the left wing, crashed in a ferocious low shot that keeper Laurie Walker did well to smother.

Aswad Thomas spurned an even better opportunity to level in the 83rd minute. His free header, from point blank range, was blocked by a relieved Walker and the Iron left-back could not force home the loose ball.

Braintree must now pick themselves up for this Saturday’s home game against Bath City.

Injuries had ruled out Matt Paine and Chib Chilaka, while both winger Andy Yiadom and centre-half Dave Stevens were suspended following their red cards at York on Saturday.

It was a very tight first period, which was no doubt a relief to the Iron, who had conceded four first-half goals in the 6-2 defeat at York.

And the Essex visitors came the closest to breaking the deadlock on 41 minutes. A firecracker from Jai Reason looked a goal all the way, only for Sol Davis to head spectacularly off the goal-line.

Iron’s recent signing Matt Johnson, snapped up from Dartford, could have scored just a minute after Davis’ goal-line clearance. But the left-midfielder rather snatched at his shot, which flew wide from just eight yards out.

At the other end, keeper Nathan McDonald had just one save to make before the interval. He stood up well to block Steven Meecham’s drive with his legs on 23 minutes.

Braintree began the second-half on the front foot and centre-half Adam Bailey-Dennis was denied by Walker from close-in.

But it was the Poppies who ended up taking their chances.

BRAINTREE: McDonald, Peters, O’Connor, Bailey-Dennis, Thomas, Johnson (sub Vose, 75), Symons (sub McCammon, 86), Davis, Reason, Marks, Wright. Unused subs: Quinton, Tajbakhsh, Jones.

Attendance: 1,115