By Ron Fosker
BRAINTREE TOWN 2 LUTON TOWN 0
Blue Square Bet Premier
League leaders one week, the league’s big beasts the next.
They are all coming the same to Braintree at the moment.
A week after their momentous 2-0 win over Grimsby, Iron repeated the dose against Luton, a team who were playing in football’s top tier only 21 years ago.
And like the previous week, this win was thoroughly deserved.
At no point were they overawed and any casual observer who had strolled into the game would not have been able to identify which of the teams had started the season as promotion favourites.
The win had especial merit as Braintree had to play for a spell at a numerical disadvantage.
A Matt Paine tackle in the 20th minute was deemed by referee Michael Bull to be of the dangerous studs-up variety and he was shown a straight red card.
Mr Bull evened the score 13 minutes later when he spotted an elbow in the face by Wayne Thomas on Sean Marks and produced the red card for a second time.
It is to Iron’s credit that the disparity in numbers had not been evident in that spell.
Once back on level terms, Luton offered very little threat.
They were devoid of ideas and looked totally dispirited long before the end, a surprising response given that new manager John Still, from Dagenham and Redbridge, was watching them for the first time.
On this showing, his chances of getting them into the play-offs are slimmer than Manchester City’s chance of winning the Premier League.
But they do not have to play Braintree every week.
It feels almost uncomfortable to say that after some of their inadequate recent displays, but once again they were excellent here.
They not only pressed hard and contested every ball, but they also showed a greater hunger for the ball and a wider spectrum of ideas when in possession.
Apart from the red cards, the first half passed almost without incident – until the 41st minute, when Braintree opened the scoring.
Up to that point two half-hit efforts from Dan Holman were the only shots from either side to require action by a keeper.
And little looked on when Holman chased a ball on the right.
But he deftly flicked the ball with his head past the sturdy Steve McNulty, headed for the by-line, cut back to beat McNulty again before sending in a low cross that Marks neatly flicked through his legs van Persie style into the net.
Holman was the provider for the second goal as well.
Some neat play involving four or five players ended with Holman sending over a long cross to the far post where Kenny Davies crept in unmarked to nod the ball past keeper Mark Tyler.
After that Braintree just needed to keep their heads, which they did admirably, to record a third consecutive win against the league giants.
Braintree: McDonald; Peters, Wells, Massey, Habergham; Daley (Symons 27), Paine, Davies, Mulley (Watts 90); Marks, Holman (Sparkes 70).