Vanarama National League South

Braintree Town bounced back from the disappointment of their display at Hemel Hempstead with a win in their Essex derby at Concord Rangers.

Phil Roberts’ first-half strike proved enough for the Iron to claim all three points against the Beachboys as they put the frustration of their previous outing behind them.

Despite the visitors dominating for long spells in the first half, it wasn’t necessarily a vintage Iron display and they were thankful for several top-class saves by goalkeeper Nathan McDonald as they held on to their lead.

However, the three points were very welcome for manager Brad Quinton’s team and meant Concord fell to a sixth straight defeat.

Braintree made three changes from the side that started the 4-3 defeat at Hemel Hempstead on Saturday with Ricky Gabriel, Alfred Mugabo and Roman Michael-Percil all back in the line-up.

Dropping to the bench were Ben Wyatt and Karl Oliyide, while Billy Crook was rested by Quinton.

There were also notable inclusions in the hosts’ line-up with four ex-Braintree players - Matt Paine, Jordan Cox, Harry Lee and Kyron Farrell - lining up against their former club.

The game started with neither side really able to impose themselves in the early minutes and the bulk of play was in the middle third of the pitch.

Braintree looked the more positive, but their final ball forward was wasteful on too many occasions as play broke down without them being able to really threaten the home goal.

They did take the lead in the tenth minute, though, and they weren’t bothered that there was a sizeable air of good fortune about it.

It came about as Ricky Gabriel's forward pass out wide on the left cannoned off Concord midfielder Amos Nasha as he looked to make a block.

It could have gone anywhere, but it fortuitously glanced into the central channel and the path of the onrushing Phil Roberts, who showed great composure to steady himself and bury the ball past home keeper Louis Wells.

It was just the breakthrough Braintree wanted and the goal seemed to energise them as all the pressure flowed towards the home goal and Rangers were pinned in their own half for the next period of the game.

Nice work going forward by Roberts saw him spread the ball to Michael-Percil, who cut inside and curled a shot just past the post and Scott Shulton then went even closer from a similar area.

Patient build up play on the edge of the box ended with Shulton curling a lovely low shot in which Wells did very well to keep out at full stretch.

There were then two almost identical chances as Gabriel got low crosses in from the left.

The first saw Roberts get his shot away only to be denied by a great save from Wells and the Iron striker was then guilty of turning the ball over the bar from another good opening.

If there was any criticism of Braintree then it was that they were maybe overplaying it in and around the Concord box as they were unable to convert their dominance into further goals.

When that happens, there is often the danger that a team can get hit on the break and Braintree very nearly did as they conceded a corner.

The ball eventually made it into the middle and was met by a bullet header from Beachboys skipper Steve Cawley that Nathan McDonald did tremendously well to keep out.

It was headed with real power from close range and the Iron keeper showed great strength to maintain his team’s advantage.

McDonald also had to be alert to keep out a drilled shot by Lewis Taaffe as the half drew to a close and he managed to maintain his team’s slender advantage at the interval.

The Iron keeper was also in action in the opening minutes of the second half.

A chance for Concord came after Luke Allen had sent a curling effort across the face of the home goal, but the Beachboys broke and Taaffe was only denied by another superb full-stretch save by McDonald.

With no early breakthrough coming, the game settled into a bit of a stalemate as both defences snuffed out the threats of the opposing attacks.

Braintree looked the more likely to score, but they were unable to find the quality in the final third to unlock the home back line.

Iron manager Brad Quinton looked to mix things up with the introduction of Reece Grant off the bench as he made his full Braintree debut after scoring four goals for the reserves on Saturday.

However, as conditions worsened with the wind getting stronger and heavy rain coming down at times, play became scrappy and neither side was able to dominate in terms of possession or territory.

That led to a shortage of goal-scoring chances, but with their lead safely intact, Braintree weren’t complaining at the final whistle.

Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Ricky Gabriel, Christian Frimpong, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Scott Shulton, Luke Allen (Mahrez Bettache 72), Alfred Mugabo, Phil Roberts, Tyler Campbell (Reece Grant 62), Roman Michael-Percil (Ben Wyatt 58).

Subs not used: Karl Oliyide, Dernell Wynter.

Referee: David Spain.