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BRAINTREE TOWN 1 SOUTHEND UNITED 2

Pre-season friendly

Braintree Town were unable to match the prolific scoring of their previous two pre-season games, but they would have shown their fans enough in their outing against Southend United to give them encouragement.

It was the first time that Braintree had played at home under new manager Brad Quinton and was the first chance that many would have had to see the group of players he has assembled.

The game was marred by an altercation that came on the hour mark after a tackle by Iron’s Scott Shulton and ended with the sending off of Southend’s Michael Timlin.

However, it proved a useful run-out for both sides, with the south Essex side edging the result 2-1.

The Iron had started their pre-season fixtures with a 6-0 win and a 5-0 victory at two Thurlow Nunn League opponents, but they knew this outing against Football League opposition would be a step up.

However, they were not in awe of their higher-placed visitors and Braintree’s new-look side impressed in the early stages of the game.

If manager Quinton had asked his players to be brave on the ball, then they heeded his words to the letter.

They got the ball on the floor and stroked it around with confidence, often in areas where the instinct may have been to clear lines with long balls forward.

It was encouraging to see and would have lifted the mood of Iron fans as many of them got their first glimpse of the way that Quinton will be asking his side to operate under his leadership.

They had the majority of the possession without really threatening Southend’s goal, although former Enfield Town striker Karl Oliyide broke the visitors’ off-side trap and slid the ball agonisingly just past the post.

The opening goal came moments later from the Shrimpers, though.

A ball swung in from the right by full-back John White in the 26th minute was met by the head of Simon Cox, who eased it past the dive of Nathan McDonald.

It showed that there is work to be done in defensive organisation between now and the start of the campaign as Cox’s header was too easy, but there was plenty for Braintree to take heart from in the opening period.

Their efforts were rewarded in the 41st minute when a neat bit of play from Luke Allen in midfield saw the ball laid out wide to Ben Wyatt, who curled in a cross to where Oliyide headed the ball down an into the net.

Just as it looked as though the two would go in level at half-time, Southend took advantage of hesitancy in Braintree’s defence to make it 2-1.

Mark Antoine Fortune pounced on a loose ball and slid it low past McDonald from the apex of the 18 yard box to make sure the League One side led at the break.

The game continued to be closely contested after the restart, but it took a bit of a nasty turn when a tackle by Shulton on Timlin was met by a reaction from the Southend man that earned him a red card.

Shulton was yellow carded for the tackle, but the Shrimpers went down to ten men for the final half hour of the game.

With that interruption and the inevitable substitutions that come in the latter stages of pre-season games, the action was somewhat less fluent towards the end of the fixture.

McDonald pulled off one excellent save from a low Michael Klass effort and the Iron keeper tipped over a late free-kick, but the game was played out without too much further in the way of goalmouth action.

Braintree are due to continue their pre-season action at Bostik League division north side Bury Town on Tuesday.

Braintree Town starting XI: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Ricky Gabriel, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Christian Frimpong, Scott Shulton, Luke Allen, Billy Crook, Roman Michael-Percil, Karl Oliyide, Ben Wyatt.

Substitutes: Dernell Wynter, George Craddock, Mahrez Bettache, Matt Baxter, Joe Robinson, Connor Bolton, Nigel Neita, Harry Ottaway, Phil Roberts.

Southend United starting XI: Mark Oxley, John White, Stephen Hendrie, Dru Yearwood, Anton Ferdinand, Michael Turner, Michael Kightley, Michael Timlin, Mark Antoine Fortune, Simon Cox, Stephen McLaughlin.

Substitutes: Nico Cotton, Liam Walker, Jack Bridge, Jermaine McGlashan, Michael Klass, Dan Matsuzaka, Harry Kyprianou, Jason Demetriou, Theo Robinson, Ted Smith.