By Ron Fosker
BRAINTREE TOWN 0 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 3
Blue Square Bet Premier
By the manner in which Braintree started this game, a repeat of the 4-1 win at Tamworth three days earlier looked a distinct possibility.
For the first half hour they attacked in regular waves and rained in shots from all angles, over the bar, past the post or into the keeper’s hands.
But the longer it went on, the more the suspicion was planted that their failure to score would sap their confidence, and if they went behind would have very little left to offer.
And so it proved.
Macclesfield scored on the half hour and although Iron had their best two chances shortly after, the team that took the field for the second half looked a mere shadow of the one in action earlier.
Confidence evaporated, shoulders drooped, Macclesfield scored again and it was all over.
Yet it could have been so different.
In the first period, Dan Holman in particular looked sharp and menacing.
Out of sorts since his flurry of goals at the start of his Iron career, his self-confidence was boosted by an excellent goal at Tamworth and the shoot-on-sight approach that marked his early appearances for the club was once again in evidence.
In only the second minute, a shot from his boot passed just wide of the post, and two minutes later another shot on the turn was blocked by a defender’s boot.
He later skipped past a defender and saw his shot deflected for a corner, shot straight at keeper Lance Cronin, and drew Cronin into a full-length dive to keep him out.
In between Sean Marks showed deft skill in volleying a ball coming from over his shoulder and was unfortunate that he was unable to direct it wide of Cronin.
Later, a through ball from Holman allowed Marks to escape the defence but the ball stuck in the mud and the chance was lost.
The half ended with Marks getting on the end of a long ball at the far post only to see his shot smothered by Cronin.
But the half-time interval appeared to drain their exuberance and little was seen of Iron as an attacking force thereafter.
Instead it was the visitors who emerged from the battering the stronger, swept away the feeling of anti-climax after their FA Cup exploits against Cardiff on Saturday, and shifted the focus of the game into the home half.
Jack Mackreth gave stand-in left back Ryan Watts a torrid time as the Silkmen made use of his speed on the wing, and Waide Fairhurst, only in the side because of an injury to the league’s leading scorer Matthew Barnes-Homer, caused all kinds of problems up front.
It was Fairhurst who was largely responsible for the opening goal, charging past Watts on the wing and sending over a cross that Amari Morgan-Smith neatly tucked into the net.
And it was Fairhurst who effectively settled things with the second goal in the 67th minute.
He reacted quickest as the ball fell loose after a corner and stabbed it into the net.
Thirteen minutes later he nipped through the home defence and coolly placed the ball wide of Nathan McDonald.
Braintree: McDonald; Peters, Wells, Massey, Watts; Mulley (Dack 81), Davis, Symons, Sparkes (Daley 66); Marks, Holman (Sheppard 81).