The dreaded curse of the Manager of the Month struck again this afternoon as too many United player's were off colour and the Iron clad defence of Braintree could not be breached, the only goal of the game starting from a free-kick taken "miles" from the offence that was finished off by Sean Marks.
This was not to be a game of great goalmouth activity and in fact it took 17 minutes before either goal was threatened. Josh Scott won a tackle and fed the ball left to Will Hendry who made space before playing the ball across the area to Scott who was denied a strike from six yards by an excellent sliding tackle by James Hawes.
United continued to have the better of the play going forwards, Danny Allen-Page's cross from the right took a slight deflection off an Iron defenders boot and Scott Fitzgerald had to quickly readjust his footing and volleyed wide of the target. James Mulley then went on one of his trademark surge's into the Braintree area and as Hawes backed away the United man fired for goal but his effort was too high.
Nine minutes remained when the visitors Brad Quinton crossed from the right, Danny Hockton nodded the ball back across goal to strike partner Marks but his shot on the turn was wide of the target. A couple of minutes later Fitzgerald was to force Iron keeper Craig Holloway into his only real save of the game as he picked up a Hendry pass and tried to curl a shot into the top corner that Holloway pushed away one handed to safety.
United did have a lucky escape just before the break when a part cleared corner fell to Billy Burgess and his drive hit his own striker Marks in the six yard box and the ball was cleared to safety.
The second period was to be even more of a non-event than the first although the visitors could have gone ahead with just 26 seconds played when Hockton controlled a Quinton throw before turning Cadmore and firing high and wide of Aaron Howe's goal. Five minutes later Howe was called upon for the first time, Ram Marwa lost possession in the middle of the United half, Hockton played the ball to Louis Riddle whose drive from 25 yards was pushed away by the diving United stopper.
The only goal of the game came in the 55th minute, a weak Howe clearance was handled by James Mulley and while United were contesting the decision the free-kick was taken "a country mile" from where the offence occurred but referee Powell allowed play to continue and Marks raced ahead to beat Howe and despite Cadmore's effort on the line the ball hit the back of the net.
Despite going behind, it took until the 87th minute for United to look like getting the equaliser as the visitors shut up shop at the back while wasting every second that they could get away with! Substitute Esmond James won the ball and played Steven Gregory down the left channel, his cross to Fitzgerald should have troubled Holloway but the striker head wide when well placed.
The sixth minute of stoppage time saw United awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal, Hendry had the initial strike that came back off the wall to Scott who instantly fired goalwards but again a defensive boot cleared the danger before Holloway had to act.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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Website United Man of the Match: Steven Gregory.