AARON Blair bagged two excellent second-half goals to ensure Braintree Town returned home from their short trip to Dartford with a deserved 2-0 win that lifts them up to sixth place in the National League South table, writes DAVID WARD.

It was a welcome return to winning ways for the Iron after their dismal and disappointing FA Trophy exit at Gloucester City on Saturday and such was the fine performance, they could have won by a bigger margin.

The turning point of the game came two minutes before half-time when former Colchester United defender Paul Rooney was shown a straight red card for a foul on Iron's central defender Joe Grimwood, after what had been a fairly even encounter in the first half.

Braintree used their one man advantage after the break and as a result always looked the more likely side to break the deadlock.

They scored two minutes after the restart when Matt Ward's superb through ball was fed into the path of Blair, who made no mistake with his shot that flew into the home net.

The Iron kept up the pressure and their persistent attacking paid off in the 67th minute when substitute Gio Critchlow broke clear and put over a great cross into the path of Blair who duly obliged with his second goal and his tenth of the season, to give the visitors some breathing space.

The longer the second half went on the more chances the Iron had with Blair, Critchlow and Anderson Pinto all seeing their goal bound shots cleared.

At the other end, it was another impressive defending show by the Iron's rearguard who coped well with the rare home attacks and keeper Jack Sims was only called twice into serious action to pull of saves to give his side a clean sheet.

Manager Angelo Harrop was thoroughly delighted with the win and it was the right response from his players after Saturday's disappointing FA Trophy exit.

He said: "I'm delighted with the performance of the whole team against what was a very tough home side.

"It was an outstanding performance and the players are playing for the football club.

"It's always difficult when there's a sending off but I told the players at half-time to keep playing their positive football, don't get involved so we lose a player which can happen in such circumstances.

"They also showed how hungry they are and we know this is a physical league but we are a young team and they are coping really well.

"I thought the two young central defenders did a fantastic job up against really experienced players because they are a good side and I'm sure will be up in the play-off area come the end of season.

"We do have a few injuries which is a worry but the lads who have stepped up and come in have done a great job like tonight and also I want to thank the fans again because they gave magnificent support tonight and I know that's really appreciated by the players."

Next up for the Iron is another away game at Slough on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.