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Braintree Town 1-0 Kingstonian

The two recent trips of Kingstonian fans to Essex had amassed one point and just one goal. The fact that the season's third trip through the Dartford tunnel was against third-placed Braintree wasn't quite the worrying prospect that it might have been, as Tuesday's win over Chesham had raised the confidence levels amongst the travelling support - although this proved very much ill-placed as the day wore on.

A minute's silence preceeded the match

For the first time this season K's were unchanged from the previous game (apart from some shirt-swapping action between Steve Brown and David Sadler) and in the first few moments of the game it looked as though the team had finally learned how to play together. Liam Collins shot over within twenty seconds of the start, Billy Mead saw his early effort from the edge of the box saved by Paul Catley and a Colin Luckett cross only just evaded Steve Brown's head as the early pressure came in front of the travelling fans for once.

Yet newly promoted Braintree clearly hadn't got to third place in the league by sitting back. They showed throughout the game that they will be a force to be reckoned with for some time to come. Tommy Noble came close early on when he connected with a right-wing Bradley Quinton free-kick, with Bashiry Alimi clearing up in front of goal.

Brown and Sadler combined well once more up front, most notably when they played a one-two towards the left-wing leaving Brown with the chance to cross for Liam Collins and/or Sadler who were both in good positions in the centre. Yet somehow the ball didn't arrive, and in the end the goalkeeper was able to gather with ease.

Brown had a chance to shoot himself just before the break when Collins and Mark Beard - who strangely (seeing as he was playing at right-back) looked to be K's best option going forward - combined well on the right to set up the centre forward on the edge of the box. He turned well and got in a right-footed shot, but the ball sailed just past Catley's left-hand post with the goalkeeper most probably beaten.

Max Hustwick showed his inexperience just afterwards when he attempted to take the ball around Noble. The striker nicked it off him and passed to Nicky Simpson, but the young defender made up for his faux-pas with a good tackle to prevent Simpson from shooting.

The half-time break gave the management duo their opportunity to change the team around as they brought Ronnie Green on in place of Sadler. Most of those watching were somewhat surprised with this move, as there were many candidates for replacement after what was a fairly poor first-half display, and it has to be said that Green did little to persuade anybody that he deserves a longer run-out next time around.

The packed terraces look on

The second half of the match was in many ways a repeat of the first. K's looked like a good team until they reached the final third of the field, but after that point they were either scared to shoot, under orders not to do so, or incapable of really testing Catley. And once again, as time wore on it was the home side who became more and more confident, and who threatened more and more.

Robbie Reinelt provided a good chance for Dean Parratt, who shot from just outside the box. Lance Key dived to his right and might have just gotten a touch as the ball flew just wide of his post. And then things became so much worse for K's as Braintree introduced substitute Nicky Smith with some thirty minutes remaining. From this point on it looked as though a point would be a great achievement for the hoops, as Braintree came closer and closer to breaking the deadlock.

As the defence slept, Nicky Simpson was allowed a huge amount of space on the right-wing and his cross to Smith allowed the substitute to shoot with his first touch of the match. Key did well to save and give away just a corner. Smith's next involvement saw him play a one-two with Craig Davidson on the left and cut in to shoot to Key's left. The goalkeeper dived, the ball hit either the post or keeper and was thankfully then hacked away by Beard. Once again K's were desperately hanging on.

Yet the desperate are rarely rewarded, and so it proved once more. With ten minutes remaining Reinelt picked the ball up on the Braintree left, Hustwick tried and failed to bring him down, the cross was met by Brett Girling who set up Simpson and the striker duly fired home from ten yards out.

The programme

It was nothing more than the home side deserved, and ten minutes later - after a laughable substitution when Greg Ball was introduced in place of the only outfield player still giving 100% (Mark Beard) - the whistle went to signal that Braintree were top of the league. K's, on the other hand, were most decidedly not.

Six goals from nine games is, by some distance, the worst record in the league, and there can be little doubt that this will continue until somebody tells the strikers and midfield that they need to shoot in order to score a goal. Along with this is the fact that there are three or four players currently in the first team squad who clearly don't belong there, and you have a recipe for a long and frustrating season.

Sat 15th Sep 2001
Cressing Road
Isthmian League Premier
Braintree Town1
1Lance Key
2Mark Beard12
3Colin Luckett
4Peter Barnsby
5Max Hustwick
6Bashiru Alimi
7Liam Collins
8Billy Mead
9Steve Brown
10David Sadler15
11Mark JonesCautioned
12Greg Ball2
14Steve McKimm
15Ronnie Green10
Man of the Match
Mark Beard
Mark Beard
Match Report By
Gary Ekins