Vanarama National League

Just as they did when Salford City came to visit in February, Braintree Town put a spanner in the promotion works of another high-flying side as they beat AFC Fylde 2-1 at Cressing Road.

Danny Searle’s Iron side may have already had their Vanarama National League relegation confirmed but they showed the fourth-placed Coasters that they will not be going down with a whimper.

A Mo Sagaf free-kick before half-time and Courtney Richards’ close-range finish - after Korrey Henry saw a penalty saved - after the break gave the Iron a crucial two-goal lead.

And although Fylde’s Jordan Tunicliffe ensured a nervy finish with a goal four minutes from time, it was Braintree who were celebrating at the end as their 2-1 win lifted them off the foot of the table.

Meanwhile, the Coasters were left with a long trip home to contemplate a blow to their promotion push.

There was just one change for the Iron from the side that was beaten 3-1 at Wrexham seven days previously and it saw Oscar Borg come in as Ifeanyi Allen dropped to the bench.

Despite the change in personnel, though, they were facing a similar challenge against another side pushing for a place in the play-offs at the end of the season.

And it was the fourth-placed Coasters who posed the first question when Braintree keeper Ben Killip had to make an early save when the prolific Danny Rowe fired off a shot after Nick Haughton had laid the ball off for him.

Rowe had 23 goals to his name ahead of this game and continued to show why he is such a prized asset on 16 minutes when he cut inside from the left and Killip made a save at his near post to keep out another effort from the Fylde striker.

However, the action wasn’t all directed towards the home goal and Fylde keeper Jay Lynch also had to be alert to tip over a cross by Borg and, from the resulting corner, the Coasters' shotstopper punched the ball clear just before it crossed the line to make sure it stayed goalless.

The ball did cross the line at the other end just before the half hour mark as Alex Reid slotted home from a through ball by Rowe, but Fylde celebrations were cut short by the raising of an offside flag.

However, there was no false jubilation just five minutes later when Braintree took the lead in the 32nd minute.

It came when Sagaf was fouled on the edge of the area and he picked himself up to drill the free-kick past Lynch and into the bottom corner of the Coasters’ goal.

It was the breakthrough the hosts wanted and it was almost doubled two minutes later when Kodi Lyons-Foster headed just over from a corner, but Fylde were also quick to show why they were where they were in the league.

Killip was in action twice in quick succession as he first tipped away an effort from Rowe and then had to punch away Haughton’s fierce strike on 38 minutes as the Iron held on to their lead at the break.

With that lead in hand, it was a good start to the second half for the hosts.

They had early chances to double their advantage, with Lyons-Foster seeing a snap shot saved by Lynch at a 51st minute corner and, two minutes later, Rob Atkinson crashed a header off the crossbar before Henry fired the rebound over the target.

Henry did play a crucial part as Braintree did extend their lead, though, when the Iron striker was felled in the area on 77 minutes and referee Gary Parsons pointed to the penalty spot.

Henry had scored from the spot in the previous home game against Gateshead and stepped forward again this time, but Lynch kept it out.

However, Richards was quick to react and prodded the ball in to give the Iron a 2-0 advantage with 12 minutes to go.

Fylde, who knew their promotion push was on the line, went in search of a way back and made sure there would be a nervy finish when Jordan Tunicliffe turned the ball in from close range from Rowe’s cross.

But Braintree saw out the final four minutes of normal time and six added minutes, with Killip making a late save from a dangerous free-kick, as the Iron held on for their fifth home win of the season.

Braintree Town: Ben Killip, Andrew Eleftheriou, Kodi Lyons-Foster, Robert Atkinson, Oscar Borg, Courtney Richards, Sven Karic, Aaron Eyoma (Ifeanyi Allen 73), Mo Sagaf, Daniel Matsuzaka, Korrey Henry. Unused subs: Ikechi Eze, Jayden Gibson, Kieran Smith, Alfie Cerulli.

Referee: Gary Parsons.