Vanarama National League South

Manager Brad Quinton said his Braintree Town players owed the club and their fans a display at Gloucester City and they delivered with table-topping style.

Getting back to Vanarama National League South action proved the perfect pick-up for the Iron as a 3-1 win was enough to send them to the top of the pile.

Having been disappointed with an under par show that saw them dumped out of the FA Cup at Brackley Town seven days before and with Quinton demanding an improved show, the Iron’s players got back on track in the West Country.

It was a game of two halves and although they trailed at the interval, a tweak in their line-up did the trick after the break as three goals put the Essex side in complete control.

And they were strikes that sent them top of the table on goal difference to add even extra cheer for their travelling supporters making the lengthy trip back.

Quinton had vowed to make changes after the unsatisfactory FA Cup showing the week and he followed through with that by making four alterations to his starting line-up.

In came Samir Bihmoutine as he made his full debut for Braintree with a first start.

He was joined by the returning Christian Frimpong, Mahrez Bettache and Karl Oliyide, with Tyler Campbell and Roman Michael-Percil dropping to the bench, while Osa Obamwonyi and Jon Muleba were unavailable.

After the disappointment of their FA Cup exit, Braintree would have wanted a strong start to the game at Gloucester to rebuild any lost confidence.

However, it was the home side that drew first blood in the game.

One early effort went just over Nathan McDonald’s bar but it was a warning that Iron failed to heed as the hosts went ahead in the 18th minute.

An error at the back was punished when it gave Gloucester striker Karnell Chambers an easy tap-in to put the home side ahead.

Braintree knew they had to hit back and Phil Roberts tried his luck after cutting in from a wide position but his shot was over the target and Alfred Mugabo then went closer with a shot from outside the box.

Mugabo then turned provider as he whipped a cross in that Billy Crook was unable to get enough purchase on with his header to trouble the home keeper.

It meant the Iron were trailing at the break and they made a switch to try to change things at the interval as Michael-Percil replaced Mugabo in an attacking move.

It had the desired effect as, within two minutes of the restart, Braintree drew level when Roberts latched on to a through ball from Oliyide and guided it past the keeper.

And Roberts, who had been voted as the Iron’s Player-of-the-Month for September, was at it again soon after.

He doubled his own and his team’s tally in the 51st minute as he volleyed home from a cross by Marc-Anthony Okoye.

There was almost an instant third from the Braintree striker as Roberts’ chipped effort three minutes later wasn’t far away from him completing a quick-fire hat-trick.

Instead it was his strike partner, Oliyide, who added the third for the Iron on the hour mark when he fired in off the post after a flick on from Billy Crook.

Braintree were in total control now and were almost gifted a fourth goal when home keeper Tom Hadler spilled the ball but recovered in time to deny a shot into an open goal.

They were unable to find the fourth goal, despite Michael-Percil going close in the dying stages of the game, but the Iron had done enough already to ensure that it was their name that would be resting atop the National League South table.

Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Christian Frimpong, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Ricky Gabriel, Samir Bihmoutine (Tyler Campbell 77), Alfred Mugabo (Roman Michael-Percil 45), Billy Crook, Luke Allen, Mahrez Bettache, Karl Oliyide, Philip Roberts (Dernell Wynter 81).

Subs not used: Reece Grant.

Referee: James Durkin.