By Ron Fosker
BRAINTREE TOWN 3 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1
Blue Square Bet Premier
HAVING hit rock bottom – literally in the league and figuratively with their woeful display against Havant and Waterlooville – Braintree bounced back most satisfactorily with their second successive win.
It was a win that moved them out of the relegation places up to 17th place, but this was no ordinary win.
Forest Green started the match in fourth place and, with an injection of funds during the summer, are seen as serious promotion contenders.
They did not look it here.
A fighting, almost confident, display from the home side saw to that.
In contrast to their last appearance at the Amlin Stadium, when they lost to Blue Square Bet South side Havant, Iron fought for every ball, reacted more quickly to the loose ones and harried their opponents into mistakes.
They even overcame a setback that in past matches might have sunk them.
Leading 2-0, with nearly 20 minutes left to play, they lost Ryan Peters to a second yellow card and conceded a goal from the resulting free kick.
For the next few minutes there were a number of scrambles in the Iron penalty area but the defence, with Dean Wells and Alan Massey granite solid in the middle, held firm.
Instead of a Forest Green equaliser, the next goal was an Iron clincher.
Sean Marks, who had battled bravely through a sustained buffeting all evening, was hauled down in the area and Kenny Davis stepped forward to drive the resulting penalty into the corner of the net.
Keeper Sam Russell went the right way but Davis’s shot was hit too firmly for him to get a hand to it.
It restored the two-goal lead they had held from the 70th minute when Luke Daley, again preferred to Daniel Sparkes, met a deep cross from Sam Habergham at the far post to net his first goal for the club.
They had taken the lead after a half hour when the ball seemed to be stuck in an interminable tangle between Dan Holman and a defender’s legs, but Holman poked it clear for Marks to drive into the net.
The Peters red card – the first booking looked harsh, but the second offending tackle was an unwise lunge – represented the only downside to an evening of hard graft.
It culminated with referee Charles Breakspear brandishing a second red card, this time to Rovers’ Omar Koroma who, like Peters, had appeared unlucky on his first booking, in his case for an alleged dive, and rash on his second.
There was time for a brief debut for new signing Ryan Watts before Mr Breakspear’s final whistle brought an evening of high endeavour and not a little skill to a satisfying close.
Braintree: Naisbitt; Peters, Wells, Massey, Habergham; Daley, Davies, Paine, Mulley (Watts 86); Marks (Sheppard 90), Holman (O’Connor 75).