Iron show play-off credentials stay intact with dominant show against the Lambs

Braintree and Witham Times: Ryan Peters is mobbed by his Braintree team-mates after putting them ahead againstTamworth. Picture: ALAN STUCKEY Ryan Peters is mobbed by his Braintree team-mates after putting them ahead againstTamworth. Picture: ALAN STUCKEY

The 2-0 scoreline may not immediately suggest it, but Braintree showed how far they have developed this year with a dominant but patient win against Tamworth.

Having been frustrated by the Lambs in a 0-0 draw in the away fixture at the start of November, the Iron stretched their legs to demonstrate their Skrill Premier play-off credentials remain intact heading into 2014.

The rarity of a Ryan Peters goal and James Mulley’s strike separated the two teams, but it could – and probably should – have been an even more emphatic win for the hosts.

It was a game the Iron needed to win after losing narrowly at leaders Cambridge on Boxing Day and ahead of the return fixture against the U’s at the Amlin Stadium on New Year’s Day.

And they delivered on all counts.

A clean sheet was nothing more than the back line deserved as they kept Tamworth’s forward ambitions under wraps pretty much throughout the 90 minutes.

The only scare came in the 42nd minute when Nick Hamann misjudged the flight of a long free-kick and the ball sailed over him and everyone else crowded in the box and harmlessly wide.

But the Iron keeper had a blemish-free afternoon apart from that and the lion’s share of the action was focused on the goal guarded by his opposite number – Cameron Belford.

The Lambs’ custodian faced a taxing time as Braintree attacked with confidence and vigour on a soft playing surface.

The Braintree ground staff had done well to get the game on after recent wet weather and their players rewarded their efforts by delivering three points.

Only some outstanding work by Belford kept it goalless at the break.

But a corner count of 18-2 in Braintree’s favour underlined the Iron’s dominance during the game and their job was made easier with the 33rd minute dismissal of Tamworth’s Lee Hildreth.

A crude challenge on Mulley saw a second yellow card, added to an earlier one for kicking the ball away, as his team-mates were left to endure the onslaught for 57 minutes with ten men.

Belford’s performance meant Braintree had to stay patient, though, and – unlike on a few occasions this year – they did make their numerical advantage count.

The breakthrough came in the 52nd minute when Jordan Cox’s driven ball across the goal was turned in by Peters for his first goal in 152 Braintree appearances.

And Mulley made the points safe with 14 minutes to go when he fired home a second goal that gave the score more of the look that the Iron’s dominance had deserved.

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