Play-off hopes dashed by late goal
Braintree 0 Salisbury 1BRAINTREE were narrowly defeated by a late Salisbury City goal in the Nationwide Conference South play-off final last night.Playing at Stevenage Borough's Broadhall Way ground, an evenly contested encounter ended 1-0 when Matthew Tubbs slotted home to finish a counterattack eight minutes from the end.
Braintree 0 Salisbury 1
BRAINTREE were narrowly defeated by a late Salisbury City goal in the Nationwide Conference South play-off final last night.
Playing at Stevenage Borough's Broadhall Way ground, an evenly contested encounter ended 1-0 when Matthew Tubbs slotted home to finish a counterattack eight minutes from the end.
Braintree perhaps had slightly the better second period but could not find a way through, James Baker hitting a post with their best chance.
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In an often-scrappy first half Braintree had the better of the opening exchanges. In the 10th minute the Essex side came close to a breakthrough when Robbie Martin curled a free kick just over the bar from the edge of the box.
Braintree's James Baker had a glorious chance to break the deadlock after 20 minutes when a corner was not properly cleared, but the striker sliced wide when the ball dropped nicely 12 yards out.
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Salisbury's front pairing of Tubbs and Paul Sales looked dangerous when on the ball at the other end and Tubbs was unlucky to hit the side netting after a cleverly-worked free kick by Michael Fowler.
On the half-hour Salisbury had their best chance of the first period. Iron keeper Nick Morgan came and punched the ball clear on the edge of the box and Fowler took a touch before lobbing the ball back over him only for Town defender Burgess to head off the line.
Five minutes later the match exploded over a short period. First Braintree defender Russell Edwards recovered to make a terrific last-gasp slide when Sales appeared through on goal before the ball went up the other end and Martin went down under the challenge of Scott Bartlett.
Riled Braintree players crowded the offender and Martin lay prone for some time before a throw-in was finally given.
With little in the way of sustained possession being held by either side, Salisbury's Tubbs and Luke Prince combined well for a one-two towards the end of the half but Tubbs fired the difficult chance well over.
Braintree almost took the lead straight after the break when a Bradley Quinton free kick was headed back across goal by Porter and Burgess slid wide when it looked easier to score.
The Iron, much improved in the second half, came close again in the 61st minute when Salisbury defender Aaron Cook, under pressure from the chasing Bertie Brayley, nearly toe-poked past his on-rushing keeper.
Salisbury, roared on by a decent travelling support, came back into the game and saw a corner scrambled clear before Braintree missed their best chance of the match.
Brayley played a wonderful through ball to Baker and the No. 9 shot across the keeper only to be denied by the foot of a post.
It had always looked the type of match that a single goal would settle and Salisbury grabbed it with eight minutes to go.
On the counterattack big substitute striker Robert Matthews played the ball out left to the unmarked Luke Prince, and he cut the ball back from the byline and Tubbs arrived to slot home.
Braintree poured forward in search of an equaliser, James Hawes seeing a header acrobatically tipped over before manager George Borg made a triple substitution.
In stoppage time the match came to an unsavoury end when Louis Riddle on the Braintree bench became involved in an altercation with Salisbury winger Prince and the majority of players and staff from both sides became involved in a melee.