AFTER the 6-0 humiliation in their last match, manager Ryan Maxwell called for more effort from his Braintree Town team, writes RON FOSKER.

He got that all right – but effort only goes so far. With very little else to offer, Braintree tumbled to their fourth successive defeat, 2-0 to St Albans City on Saturday.

Initially they looked up for the fight (possibly too much up for it – four of them were booked along with the manager). A number of crunching tackles, spirited running and a refusal to let their opponents settle on the ball augured well.

But as in previous matches, it came to nothing.

What was lacking, again, was a sense of cohesion. Interplay between players was at a bare minimum, the number of times one player passed along the ground to another countable on the fingers of one hand.

Instead it was back to plan A, indeed the only plan they appear to possess, humping the ball hopefully up in the air.

The idea, perhaps, is that a defender will knock the ball into touch to allow Matt Johnson to produce a long throw. He had 14 goes in this match and only one found a Braintree head, Kyran Clements putting it over the bar in the 23rd minute.

The long kick/throw is particularly ineffective with Luke Holness in the lone striker’s role. Holness has some silky skills with the ball at his feet but he does not have the height to capitalise on the long ball and his replacement at half-time was long overdue.

With Femi Akinwande, who started on the wing, in the middle in the second half, there was a sense of bustle and purpose and within two minutes of the restart he required former Iron keeper Michael Johnson to go full-length to save a snapshot from outside the area.

Apart from a gentle Holness shot from distance in the first half, it was Johnson’s only save.

Instead St Albans soaked up the initial pressure, settled into their rhythm and gradually took over the game although it was a penalty – the fifth Iron have conceded in eight games - that set them on their way.

Ex-Chelmsford (and various other places) striker Shaun Jeffers had a shot blocked by Jay Porter, but the ball rebounded to him and Porter’s desperate lunge succeeded only in bringing him down. Jeffers got up to score from the spot.

Neither side posed much threat in the second half although stand-in keeper Billy Johnson – brought in at the last minute after Preston Edwards was injured in the warm-up – brought off an excellent save to deny Zane Banton.

And then with eight minutes to go Mitchell Weiss hit the bar with a close-range shot, Johnson blocked a follow-up effort but it rebounded to Weiss who slammed it into the net.

A win for Welling – at sixth-placed Chippenham – means that Braintree have slipped to fourth from bottom. And a win for Billericay – at fifth-placed Dulwich – means the bottom rung itself is getting closer.

Braintree: Billy Johnson; Marcus Johnson-Schuster, Kyran Clements, Luke Pennell, Jay Porter; Femi Akinwande, Alfie Payne, Matt Johnson, Arjan Krasniqi (Melos Ajvazi 83), Correy Davidson; Luke Holness (Gianni Crichlow 46)