Vanarama National League

Braintree Town backed up their midweek win against Wrexham with a 2-0 victory against Chester FC to make it a pair of Vanarama National League successes on home turf within five days.

While the Tuesday win against the Welsh visitors was capped by a stunning free-kick from Taylor Miles, this time it was solid rather than spectacular that won the day.

The three points came courtesy of two goals in the opening 45 minutes from players who are more often seen in action at the other end of the pitch.

Centre-half Mark Phillips got the first – his debut goal for Braintree – while Matt Paine, who was once again playing in a defensive midfield role, added the second.

And the duo could take further pride as the Iron maintained a 14th clean sheet of the campaign against a Chester strike force that lacked the bite needed to pierce one of the league’s meanest back lines.

Braintree made two changes from the line-up that started against Wrexham in the week.

Striker Sean Marks came back into the starting 11 after impressing as a substitute against the Welsh side and Dan Sparkes was also back after illness kept him out on Tuesday.

Coming out of the side were Michael Cheek and Harry Anderson, who both dropped to the bench.

With England C manager Paul Fairclough watching on from the stands, Braintree made a positive start on a chilly, but bright and dry afternoon and their early endeavour was rewarded with a goal in the 11th minute.

There was some good build-up play from Braintree that ended with Simeon Akinola's cross being deflected out for a corner.

Sparkes stepped forward to take it from the Iron right and whipped the ball into the near post where Mark Phillips had ghosted away from his marker to tuck it into the net.

It was the former Southend United centre-half’s first goal since joining Braintree last summer and was a fair reflection of the hosts’ early dominance.

They continued to stay on the front foot as Chester struggled to mount too much in the way of an attacking threat in the opening 20 minutes.

However, they looked better after a break that ended with Jordan Chappell sending a rasping drive that brought a really good save out of Michael Crowe in the home goal.

It seemed to lift the visitors but they were unable to keep any notable pressure on the home goal and it was Braintree who retained a greater threat.

They turned that into a two-goal lead in the 35th minute.

Marks did well to release Akinola through the middle and his run force Johnny Hunt into a hurried clearance that went out for a corner.

The ensuing corner was worked by Braintree around the Chester box until it fell to Matt Paine, who was unmarked at the back post and unleashed a pile-driver of a shot into the roof of the visitors' net.

It made sure the Iron held a 2-0 lead at the break and one that was deserved on the balance of play in the opening 45 minutes.

It also gave Braintree something to defend after the break, but they set about looking to add to their advantage rather than sitting on it and Chester keeper Jon Worsnop had to make saves from Alex Woodyard and Marks in the first ten minutes after the restart.

They weren’t able to sustain the pressure though and the play from both sides became scrappy on the testing playing surface.

Chester kept trying to find a breakthrough and it took the legs of Crowe to keep them at bay in the 71st minute from a snap-shot by Hunt that looked to be heading into the bottom corner.

Play stayed disjointed in the closing stages and Chester did press as they went looking for a way back into the game, but there was nothing to add in terms of goals as the hosts saw it out in safety.

Braintree: Michael Crowe, Remy Clerima, Mark Phillips, Matt Fry, Sam Habergham, Matt Paine, Kenny Davis (Chez Isaac 68), Dan Sparkes (Taylor Miles 74), Alex Woodyard, Simeon Akinola, Sean Marks (Michael Cheek 64).

Unused subs: Anthony Edgar, Harry Anderson.

Referee: Nigel Lugg.