BRAINTREE Town limped towards the National League South play-offs with one of their most insipid performances of the season, a 3-2 defeat to an Eastbourne side that had only been free of relegation worries since Taunton Town’s defeat two days earlier, writes RON FOSKER.

The visitors appeared to play with the freedom that relief from worry brings and dominated much of the match.

They even survived two red cards in the game’s final minutes.

Eastbourne set their stall out early. In the first four minutes they had a cross headed over, a shot palmed away by Jack Sims and another cross that penetrated the Iron back line was fluffed with the goal gaping.

Iron weathered the storm and should have taken the lead when Freddie Sears intercepted a clearance and advanced on goal. But with only the keeper to beat he attempted a chip which weakly landed safely in Harrison Foulkes’ hands.

He made up for it almost immediately when a multi-man move – Braintree’s best moment of the game – opened up the defence and he neatly planted a side-footed shot into the net.

Iron briefly looked comfortable but suffered a double blow either side of half-time.


Yahya Bamba equalised with a rising shot after the ball had been headed out from a corner with five minutes of the first half remaining and five minutes into the second period, Alfie Bendle put them ahead with a well placed shot reminiscent of Sears’ effort earlier.

Braintree appeared to be thrown a lifeline when Bamba was sent off in the 80th minute for a foolish bit of time-wasting, having earlier been booked.

Shortly after Bamba’s dismissal, centre back Joe Grimwood, who had moved into the striker’s role minutes earlier to compensate for the obvious lack of thrust up front, brought the scores level when he headed in a cross.


But it was short-lived. Within two minutes Borough were ahead again when a corner was nodded back and Imran Uche stroked it into the net.

They even survived a further sending-off, captain Brad Barry following his teammate into the dressing room five minutes into what turned out to be 11 added minutes, apparently after a remark to the referee.

There was time for some further bookings and for Grimwood to see a shot cleared off the line but there was no further breakthrough and Home Secretary James Cleverley, in a rare visit to see his home team, must have left asking how they had managed to reach fifth place.

Braintree: Jack Sims; Baris Altintop, Trent Rendall, Joe Grimwood, Lewis Miccio; Tom Blackwell (Reggie Lambe 76), Charlie Wakefield, Dom Odusanya, Freddie Sears (Jack Roberts (69), Jayden Davis (Alfie Payne 57); Aaron Blair.

• Aaron Blair was given the supporters club’s player of the year award after the match.