Braintree unable to end U's home record

Braintree and Witham Times: Alan Devonshire felt his side lacked the little quality they needed in the final third at Cambridge. Alan Devonshire felt his side lacked the little quality they needed in the final third at Cambridge.

Braintree Town were unable to overturn the form books as they joined a growing list of Skrill Premier sides who have tasted defeat at the Abbey Stadium this season.

Despite their defeat at Hereford the week before, Cambridge United were sitting top of the table at Christmas and had an unblemished record at home.

There had been 11 Skrill Premier sides arrive at the Abbey Stadium before Braintree and all had left pointless.

It would be a new Conference record of 12 back-to-back home wins if the U’s could beat Braintree and a moment of first-half quality ensured they did just that.

Braintree had defended solidly until the U’s broke from the edge of their own area in the 19th minute.

Ryan Donaldson advanced down the right and was allowed to cut inside to slip the ball into Luke Berry, who gave Iron keeper Nick Hamann no chance from close range.

It clearly buoyed the hosts, but it strangely seemed to settle Braintree as well and they went on the front foot with two good efforts that went close to levelling the score.

Ryan Peters’ long ball into the box in the 24th minute was laid back by Sean Marks and Kenny Davis’ fierce shot was deflected over.

Three minutes later, Dan Holman then drove up to the edge of the Cambridge area and unleashed a curling shot that saw Chris Maxwell having to scramble the ball away.

Hamann then made a good save from the dangerous Donaldson before half-time as Cambridge’s biggest threat came on the break, but it stayed 1-0 to the hosts at the interval.

Both sides went looking for goals in the second half for differing reasons – the Iron for a way back into the game and the U’s to make sure of their victory – and both had chances.

Davis fired well over when well-placed, while Hamann had to make good saves when Greg Taylor and Adam Cunnington had efforts from distance for the hosts.

And the Braintree keeper had to be sharp in the 75th minute after Matt Paine had surrendered possession in a dangerous area and Donaldson closed in on goal.

However, Hamann did brilliantly to stretch out his leg to deflect the ball away for a corner.

Iron manager Alan Devonshire made attacking substitutions with Dan Sparkes, Jordan Cox and Luke Daley all coming on.

Cox went close with a header just over the bar from Sam Habergham’s 80th minute cross, but even though the Iron pressed for an equaliser in the closing stages, there was no denying the U’s a 12th straight home victory.

Devonshire said: “We lacked a little bit of quality and the one real bit of quality came from them for their goal.

“We worked hard and that’s all I can ask, but we lacked the little bit of quality we needed in the last third of the pitch.

“We’ll just have to dust ourselves down now and look forward to getting a result at home against Tamworth.”

That Skrill Premier game against Tamworth kicks-off at the Amlin Stadium at 3pm on Saturday.

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