Mid-table Braintree still have shock value - Keith Rowland

THEY may be safely encamped in mid-table but the prospect of earning anything other than a victory against Braintree Town remains unthinkable to some Blue Square Bet Premier League rivals.

Town have frequently upset the odds this season, taking the notable scalps of Grimsby Town (5-0), Lincoln City (1-0) and Cambridge (3-2), and have earned the reputation locally as a free-scoring side that plays good football.

However, assistant manager Keith Rowland believes Town must still be something of an unknown quantity if the perception of the club by certain rivals is anything to go by.

“For some teams, nothing but a win against Braintree is good enough, regardless of what they have done in previous games,” said the former West Ham defender.

“Managers seem to find themselves under pressure when we beat them, that was especially the case at the start of the season.

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“We had a good start, dropped off a bit and then picked up again with that fantastic winning run in September, so I don’t think we are so much of a surprise package any more.

“Managers at this level are not naive and they know that we are doing something right.”

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Braintree’s maiden season and subsequent success at Conference Premier level has not gone unnoticed and Kenny Davis picked up his latest cap for England C, in the 1-1 draw against Italy, in the International Challenge recently.

Jai Reason has also played for his country, in the friendly against Gibraltar last year, while Nathan McDonald, Aswad Thomas, Ben Wright and former winger Andy Yiadom have been in the contingency squad this season.

Such call-ups will only enhance the Iron’s reputation and with Barnet having snared Yiadom, the vultures could start to circle.

With their status as a part-time club, any offers could see it difficult for Braintree manager Alan Devonshire to resist but Rowland insists the club must do all they can to build.

“It is not only about keeping the squad together, we also have to look and see if there are better players out there,” said Rowland.

“We can all look at what has happened to Bath this season. They finished in and around the top-ten last year but are probably favourites to go down this time.

“We have got nine games left and 27 points to play for and if we can get the majority of those points then we will be in a great position.

“There is nothing as good as finishing the season on a high because, before you know it, the next season is upon you.”

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