BRAINTREE TOWN 0
Braintree Town once again showed they are a match for Football League opposition as they held Portsmouth to a 0-0 draw at the Amlin Stadium.
Although Pompey will be in League Two – only one level above the Iron – this season, the south coast club were gracing the Premier League and winning the FA Cup not so long ago.
However, they rarely troubled the hosts’ back line on a warm night in Essex and had to defend well themselves to keep a confident-looking Braintree at bay.
Braintree boss Alan Devonshire started with a familiar looking line-up with winger Matt Whichelow as the only trialist in the starting 11.
The former Watford midfielder was heavily involved from the first whistle and the Iron started far better than their visitors, playing the ball around slickly and creating openings down both flanks.
Clear-cut chances remained elusive for much of the opening period, though, and that was the same for Portsmouth when they did manage to get forward later in the first half.
The visitors’ best opportunity came on the stroke of half-time with Ashley Harris being sent clear by Patrick Agyemang’s pass, but Iron keeper Nathan McDonald made a good save.
It remained goalless after the break, but Braintree appeared unfortunate to earn a penalty in the 54th minute when striker Sean Marks seemed to have been bundled over by Joe Devera in the box.
Referee Mike Bull didn’t agree with the Iron’s appeals, though, and the stalemate remained.
As the game reached the hour mark, Portsmouth made a raft of changes and Devonshire was soon following suit.
Trialists Newman Carney, Sam Griffiths, Charlie Wassmer, Gregg Akalpele and goalkeeper Nick Hamann all made appearances for the hosts and as the game drew to a close both sides had their best chances to open the scoring.
On 74 minutes, Hamann got down well to keep out an effort from the visitors and seconds after coming on for Braintree, Jordan Cox forced Pompey keeper Phil Smith into a smart save at the other end.
Smith also palmed away a late driven shot by Nicky Symons, but the final whistle went with neither side able to find the back of the net.
Braintree: Nathan McDonald (Nick Hamann 67), Ryan Peters (Sam Griffiths 72), Sam Habergham (Newman Carney 67), Dean Wells (Matt Paine 62), Alan Massey (Charlie Wassmer 72), Chez Isaac (Nicky Symons 62), James Mulley, Matt Whichelow (Dan Sparkes 62), Kenny Davis, Sean Marks (Jordan Cox 75), Dan Holman (Gregg Akalpele 85).