Report - Braintree Town 2 Torquay 0
- Credit: Archant
The Iron again proved they always play better against promotion-chasing sides than lower positioned teams when they totally outplayed sixth-placed Torquay United in their first-ever meeting with the Devonshire outfit at the Miles Smith Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Sean Marks and Simeon Akinola in the first half were enough for Alan Devonshire’s side to gain a deserved victory.
And the way they outfought and outplayed the relegated Football League full-timers, the second highest scorers in the league this season, left Devonshire purring.
“It was a good win and we played really well and dominated the whole 90 minutes,” he said.
“I say it was a great all-round team performance and getting the two goals early on in the game gave the players confidence.
“In recent games we’ve created many chances early on but not taken them and we also had a game plan to play high up and force them on the defensive from the start and keep attacking them and it paid off,.
“The pitch was much firmer too, which helped us control the ball better and our passing and movement was excellent.
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“I think we did a very professional job on a side that were only relegated from the Football League in the summer.
“And full marks to our back four who did a sterling job of never letting them near scoring and I don’t think our ‘keeper (Nic Hamann) had a shot to stop all afternoon.”
Devonshire was without influential skipper and midfielder Kenny Davis (hamstring), along with striker Jordan Cox (back injury) and winger Dan Walker (hamstring), but the versatile Matt Paine and Chez Isaac completely controlled the midfield and never let the visitors gain a foothold in the game.
A delighted Issac admitted: “We all knew we wanted a win and three points to set up for the busy Christmas games and also get ourselves moving up the table again.
“I felt Matt and I worked well together in the middle and were able to pick up many of the second balls and knock-downs so long as we kept chasing and harrying them which they clearly didn’t like.
“I think we dominated the game from the kick off, never let up and showed what we are capable of.”
The Iron had taken a 20th-minute lead when right-back Ryan Peters floated a dipping high cross into the penalty area where Marks out jumped the defence for a glancing header that dropped into the top far corner of the net past stranded ‘keeper Martin Rice.
Right on half-time it was Isaac who set up the second goal with a neat right-wing free-kick that eluded the visiting defence and saw Akinola slide in at the far post to force the ball home past Rice.
“I like taking free-kicks and this one was quite a sweet one dropping in behind the defenders and I knew Simeon would be coming in late at the far post which he did and timed his run just right,” said Issac.
“We’ve four big games coming up over Christmas and I think we can build on this win as we have turned the corner with our results after a poor run when we had so many players out injured.”
It was certainly one of the most impressive Iron performances so far this season and they could have taken the lead as early as the third minute when, after good work by Akinola down the left, he set up Mulley to skip past defenders from the right wing but his shot was just inches wide of the goal.
There was another chance on the half hour when, from an Isaac corner, a Marks header was held by Rice – moments later Mulley almost added his side’s second but his shot was charged down in the areas by two defenders.
The second half was much a repeat of the first with the Iron doing all the attacking, pushing forward with some fine passing and build-up play that the visitors couldn’t handle, forcing some desperate tackles that saw five visiting players booked and Angus MacDonald fortunate to stay on the field after two successive crude tackles on Marks.
With the game looking safe for the Iron as the minutes ticked away, Akinola was unlucky to see his goal-bound shot charged down by Krystian Pearce on 81 minutes and three minutes later Marks almost scored his second but his shot on the turn in the area clipped the top of the bar and went behind for a goal-kick.
In the five minutes of added time it was Marks who missed a proverbial sitter following good build-up play by Mulley, who pulled the ball back from the by-line. But the Iron striker with the goal at his mercy, completely missed his kick.