Braintree Town wound up their programme of pre-season friendlies with a hastily rearranged game with Saffron Walden at Cressing Road on Saturday after the original scheduled fixture, against Maldon Town, had been called off.

The result was a 1-1 draw with the visitors from the Essex Senior League, who got a late equaliser through Gordon to cancel out John Devine's first half strike for Iron.

Two days earlier Braintree were held to another draw, when they shared six goals with Histon from the Jewson Eastern League.

Although they took an early lead through new player Gavin Crane, a suspect Braintree defence conceded three goals before the interval.

However a better second half display saw the lively Scott Forbes net a couple of typically individualistic goals to put Braintree on terms.

So Iron's seven warm-up matches had produced only one win but new manager Richie Powling was not placing too much importance on these results, as the main purpose had been to try out a number of prospective recruits.

Several newcomers were given a run out but while some had been signed on, others were either not seen again or were keeping their options open, hoping for offers elsewhere.

One way or another therefore it was still not clear earlier this week what the new line-up was likely to be for Saturday's opening Ryman League Division One fixture against Yeading at Cressing Road (3pm).

Two of last season's squad who remain available, Russell Tanner and Simon Milton, both took nasty knocks in the Histon game, which could sideline them for a week or two.

Of the fresh intake, ex-Arsenal and Leeds United defender Chris Whyte who was to have been Powling's assistant coach has now decided to accept an offer to join Tampa Bay Rowdies in the United States.

Those that have signed on include goalkeeper Nicky Rust, 24, who was formerly with Brighton & Hove Albion, and will be competing for the number one jersey with John Cheesewright.

Also having signed are defender Gavin Smith who last season played in the Welsh League, midfielders Mark Adams and Lee Owen from Cambridge City plus front men Neal Docking from Soham, Gavin Crane (Ipswich) and the much travelled Ian Brown.

Returning to the club is striker John Devine who has shown up well in the practice games as an emergency central defender.

It is anyone's guess at this stage as to how Powling's first team selection will turn out.

Whatever it is, the chances that adjustments will be required before a settled side emerges with the possibility of further signings being made.

Next Wednesday, Iron travel to renew acquaintances with local rivals Harlow Town. who have moved up after finishing as runners-up in Division Two last season.

Then next Saturday (August 21), Braintree make an early appearance in the FA Cup when they entertain Leyton Pennant in a Preliminary Round tie.

Up we go . . action from Saturday's pre-season friendly between Braintree Town and Saffron Walden at Cressing Road.

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