Report and gallery: Braintree Town 0 Chesterfield 6
- Credit: Archant
All the ingredients were there for an FA Cup giant-killing, the chance for Braintree Town to enter FA Cup folklore.
The pitch was boggy, while the Cressing Road facilities were not of the standard League One Chesterfield have become accustomed to, the Spireites having recently moved into a plush, new home.
Granted, Iron went into the game without a win since September 16, but Chesterfield’s recent form was pretty woeful too, just one win in their last 10 league and cup games.
The BBC cameras were there sensing an upset, while national hacks, unfamiliar with this part of north Essex were sharpening their pencils, ready to quiz 1980 FA Cup final hero Alan Devonshire on his latest success – the Iron boss set-up Trevor Brooking’s winner as West Ham defeated Arsenal, 34 years ago.
Unfortunately, Iron did not read the script, while Chesterfield’s one-touch football opened up their opponents on numerous occasions, their finishing ruthless..
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So often, lower-league teams that miss out on giant-killings, at least go out with a fight.
And Braintree have become used to being the party-poopers, especially in the Conference Premier where, since their elevation three years ago, several former Football League teams have come a cropper.
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Yesterday they surrendered meekly as goals from Eoin Doyle (2), Jay O’Shea, Sam Clucas, ex-Ipswich Town midfielder Gary Roberts and an unfortunate own goal from Iron defender Remy Clerima booked the Derbyshire side’s passage into the second round.
“We did OK for five minutes, started well, then after that I thought we were poor,” said Devonshire.
“I am bitterly disappointed and the players have let the club down, they are better than that.
“I am trying to put my finger on it and I don’t know (what went wrong).
“All over the pitch we were disappointing. We did not go with runners, we made sloppy mistakes – how many times did we scuff the ball straight to a Chesterfield player?
“I don’t know what they (players) want. The TV is here, it’s the first round of the cup, ‘go and have a go lads, show them how good you are’.
“I have to apologise to the fans, I feel we let them down.”
An incident just after half-time when away goalkeeper Tommy Lee brought down substitute Jordan Cox, with the visitors leading 3-0, could have made the game interesting had referee Brendan Malone chosen to issue more than just a free-kick to the hosts, but the truth is, it probably would not have mattered a jot. Town were not at the races.
They started brightly enough, showing some endeavour to pin the Spireites back early on, and Ian Evatt had to be alert to deny Sean Marks a shot on goal, the ball going out for a corner.
That enthusiasm soon fizzled out though as the visitors took control with chief tormentors Roberts and O’Shea, pulling the strings.
Having already looked threatening down the left, Chesterfield took the lead from the right on 20 minutes. Jimmy Ryan found Clucas who weaved his way into the box before firing a shot from a tight angle that was parried by Nick Hamann, Doyle tapping in on the line.
Clucas then whipped a superb ball into the box from the left that the goalscorer could not get a touch on, before the Spireites doubled their lead.
Dan Jones cut the ball back from the left flank to the unmarked O’Shea, who controlled, swivelled, then curled the ball home from 16 yards, with Iron’s players very slow to close him down.
Alan Massey had a half-chance at the other end, firing straight at Lee from on-loan Ipswich youngster Omar Sowumni’s knock-down, before Clucas made the game safe on the stroke of half-time, tapping home from the impressive Tamika Darikwa’s cut-back.
That just about killed Iron off, who went on to start the second period in more positive fashion, Lee – moments later a tad fortunate to still be on the pitch – saving well from substitute Charlie Strutton’s fierce drive.
Roberts added more misery on 55 minutes, volleying home a left-foot shot from 20 yards, before the visitors had a fifth goal, from O’Shea, ruled out for offside.
The game was up for Iron, but at least substitutes Cox and Strutton tried their best, the former heading over the bar after Lee had done well to save from Simeon Akinola.
Clerima then diverted Jones’ cross home for an own goal, before the latter then cleared an Akinola shot off his own line, showing great desire.
Lee ensured Chesterfield kept their goal intact with a tremendous save from Cox, before Doyle, who moments earlier had seen O’Shea hit the bar, finished off Dan Gardner’s pass with the last kick of the game.