Vanarama National League

Braintree Town were given a lesson in clinical finishing by Barrow as the Iron’s winless Vanarama National League run stretched to five games.

Despite looking the more threatening side through much of the 90 minutes and having by far the better of the scoring chances, Braintree somehow found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.

The Barrow goal was put under pressure for long periods and the Iron looked especially threatening from set pieces, but they were unable to get the ball over the line.

Instead, an early goal direct from a free-kick and a breakaway second against the run of play saw Barrow return to Cumbria with three points safely tucked away as Braintree reached the halfway point in their season still propping up the National League table.

The big team news for Braintree at the start of the game was that there were two new faces in their squad.

Both were loanees from West Bromwich Albion - Callum Morton and Nicholas Clayton-Phillips – and both came straight in after being signed the day before with deals until the end of the season

Morton was in the starting line-up to spearhead the hosts’ attack and Clayton-Phillips was on the bench at the start.

Other team news was that Kodi Lyons-Foster and Justin Amaluzor were out with one-match suspensions and Ejiro Okosieme got his first Iron start in the middle of their defence.

It was a scrappy start from both sides, but it didn’t take Barrow long to get themselves ahead and it was a bit of quality that led to the opening goal on eight minutes.

A foul by Ricky Gabriel gave the visitors a free-kick on the edge of the home penalty area in a central position and Kemy Agustien stepped up to curl the ball in from 20 yards and give Iron keeper George Legg no chance.

Braintree needed a positive response and they were so close to getting an equaliser on 17 minutes from another free-kick at the other end.

It was taken by Billy Crook and found Joe Ellul, who headed the ball deftly back into the middle of the six-yard box where it was met by Morton, but he somehow scooped the ball over the bar from practically on the goal line.

It was frustrating, but Braintree stayed positive, with Gabriel heading over after good work by Crook and Christie Pattison on the left and Morton only being denied a clear shooting chance by a superbly-timed tackle.

Braintree kept pressing as Barrow’s main threats were restricted to breakaways and the home side went close again on 37 minutes.

Nice delivery from another free-kick by Crook found the head of Ellul again but this time the ball went just wide of the target.

They kept the pressure on from a series of set pieces at the end of the half as Barrow were kept on the back foot and while there was no goal joy before the break, it was encouraging from the Iron.

They continued in that same vein after the restart and on 49 minutes, great delivery by Crook with a cross from the right saw a Morton header flash past the post.

With the breakthrough remaining frustratingly elusive, Braintree shuffled their pack with the introduction of Clayton-Phillips in place of Pattison on 56 minutes.

There was almost an instant change to the scoreline as another free-kick was headed on by Ellul across the Barrow goal line but Morton was just unable to get his feet right to force the quick-running loose ball into the net.

Braintree were seeing near misses racking up by this point and knew they had to make their dominance count, but they were instead given a lesson on being clinical at the other end.

Barrow had offered nothing in the way of a goal threat since half-time, but a quick break sudden saw them 2-0 ahead on 63 minutes.

It came when a simple ball over the top caught the Iron defence flat footed and Tyler Smith twisted his way past Ellul before a calm finish to compound home frustration.

It was a real kick in the teeth for the Iron but underlined just where they find themselves in the table and why they are there.

They tried to keep pressing in the final part of the game, but the second goal had taken the sting out of it and it ended with another frustrating defeat.

Braintree Town: George Legg, Jon Muleba, Joe Ellul (Pat Webber 79), Ejiro Okiseme, Ricky Gabriel, Mo Sagaf (Norman Wabo 71), Courtney Richards, Billy Crook, Callum Morton, Marcel Barrington, Christie Pattison (Nicholas Clayton-Phillips 56).

Subs not used: Lyle Della-Verde, Henry Ochieng.

Referee: Declan Bourne.