Town 1 Braintree 0
THE Mariners went into today’s game vs Braintree looking to build on the well earned point against Luton last weekend.
An injury hit Town squad sported numerous changes to the side that drew at Kenilworth road. Sam Hatton, Chris Doig and Craig Disley all out of the squad through injury, Aswad Thomas serving the second of his three match ban following his dismissal against Nuneaton.
McKeown started in goal for the Mariners, across the back were Bignot, McDonald, Pearson and Goodall. Midfield was made up of Thanoj, Kerr and Nielson. Alex Rodman, Lenell John-Lewis and Paddy McLaughlin were all part of the front three.
Subs for Town were Joe Colbeck, Andy Cook, Liam Hearn, Ross Hannah and Paul Walker.
The Mariners started brightly and could have gone ahead inside three minutes after McLaughlin released a venomous shot towards goal but he couldn't quite keep his effort on target.
They had another chance to break the deadlock on 7 minutes, some good build up play by Town saw the ball fall to John-Lewis in space but his effort went well over.
Town won a free kick on 8 minutes following a foul on McLaughlin, but that came to nothing as Rodmans kick went straight into the wall.
The Mariners could have gone agead again on ten minutes when McLaughlin whipped in a corner, but the visiting defence dealt well with the danger and cleared the ball away.
Heavy pressure in the early stages by Town eventually paid off when the ball found Alex Rodman on the right hand side. He showed good skill to get in behind the defenders and drive in a low ball toward JOHN-LEWIS who slotted home from six yards with just twelve minutes on the clock.
Braintree came closest on 16 minutes when Chez Isaac was upended on the edge of the area, but the free kick lacked any quality and was a comfortable save for McKeown in the Town goal.
Town appeared to ease off over the next ten minutes after asserting their authority over the visitors right from the kick off.
Rodman nearly sent John Lewis clean through in another good chance for Town after 28 minutes, but there was too much weight behind his pass, and the ball was easily collected by the goalkeeper
Braintree might have created something on 33 minutes when Luke Daley broke through the Town defence, but Alan Goodall recovered brilliantly and retrieved the ball with some excellent defending for the home side.
Braintree had a chance to level the scores on 42 minutes when the ball fell to Kenny Davies, who rifled it goalward from 25 yards, however his effort was excellently blocked by Shaun Pearson.
Nielson did well to keep his balance amid some heavy pressure from Braintree defenders. His 20 yard shot though, not enough to trouble Nathan McDonald in the visiting goal.
That was the last action of an excellent first half from Town’s point of view.
Braintree could have levelled within a minute of the restart, but Sean Marks' shot was far too tame, and did nothing to trouble McKeown in the Town goal.
Town should have doubled their lead when Rodman broke away down the right flank, but his cross flashed across the face of goal without anyone connecting to it, and the chance went begging.
Town had another brilliant chance on 51 minutes, John-Lewis doing extremely well to worm his way out of trouble with the defence and set Rodman off on another run down the right flank. However , Rodman's cross lacked quality and direction, going straight at the keeper.
The Mariners won a corner on 53 minutes when Thanoj's cross was blocked off by Matt Paine. The delivery wasn't quite good enough though and the danger was cleared.
Braintree won a corner in the 56th minute, which presented them with their best chance of the game so far, James Mulley found himself in space to shoot on the edge of the area without threat from the Town defence. McKeown did well however, getting down quickly to his left to make the save.
Dan Sparkes came on for Braintree in place of Luke Daley on 59 minutes as the visitors won a corner. The initial delivery was poor but nearly resulted in an own goal when John-Lewis tried to clear the danger, his header going just over McKeown's bar.
Scott Nielson made way for Joe Colbeck on 65 minutes in the first change for Town.
Just after that John-Lewis played in Rodman, who did well to stay onside but his shot was too soft and the goalkeeper had no trouble saving it.
Just three minutes later, Rodman fired in a shot from the right that almost proved too much for McDonald in the Braintree goal, he did manage to force a corner, although that came to nothing and the score stayed 1-0.
Walker did well to clear for Town when Cox was allowed to shoot unchallenged on 77 minutes. That was the closest the visitors has come so far in the game and if not for the defender on the line, they would have had their equaliser.
Braintree won a free kick on 79 minutes when Mulley was upended in his own half. It was taken quickly and the ball found Habergham who whipped the ball deep into the area, Cox's shot, fortunately for Town, just wide.
Lenell John-Lewis made way for Andy Cook with ten minutes to go.
As the half wore on Town were becoming careless, being very sloppy with possession. The home side taking their foot off the gas had meant the visitors were coming into the game more, but has been unable to get anything from it so far.
Newman Carney came on for Sam Habergham in the last three minutes as Braintree desperately tried to salvage something from the game.
Town wasted a corner in added time, choosing to try and run down the clock in the corner rather than attacking. They eventually lost the ball and conceded a free kick.
Overall it was a much better performance from a much improved Town side, and a well deserved three points for Paul Hurst's men, who return to action next Saturday when they travel to Chester.