Essex Senior Cup third round

Braintree Town shot themselves in the foot with a late defensive mistake that saw them make a speedy exit from this year’s Essex Senior Cup.

The Iron had led at half-time and appeared to be in control of the game midway through the second half, but things unravelled for them in the latter stages as Essex Senior League side Southend Manor were able to secure their progress to the fourth round with a 2-1 win.

Braintree played a mixed team for their first foray in this year’s County Cup competition, with four reserve teamers among the starting line-up alongside regular first-team players.

Two of the reserve team players were Charlie Webb and Harry Seal in a three-man back line and they had to be alert in the opening minutes as Southend Manor looked to get forward.

They were unable to get too much early purchase on the game, though, and as the hosts began to gain more possession, they stifled the visitors’ threat.

Braintree’s movement of the ball saw their domination grow and the opening goal came with nine minutes on the clock.

It was worked through some slick passing and a through ball by Dernell Wynter that allowed Roman Michael-Percil to break clear and he showed a calm head to slot the ball past Manor keeper Russell Harley.

With the lead under their belts, Braintree looked to build on it and Matt Baxter had the next opportunity after the ball had been worked neatly down the Iron right.

It found its way to him in a central position, but the reserve team striker fired over under pressure.

Braintree stayed on top as their dominance in possession deprived the visitors of a chance to build any pressure although clear-cut chances weren’t necessarily flowing at the other end.

The next opportunity fell to Baxter on 33 minutes when a lofted cross from Tyler Campbell was headed just wide by the former Braintree Academy player.

Campbell then ended the half with a rising shot that flew just over the target as the Iron finished with just the one-goal lead.

The second half started in a similar fashion, with Braintree still having the lion’s share of the possession, but without them having the spark they needed in the final third of the pitch.

And with the game still separated by the single goal, Southend Manor gradually worked their way more into it, pressing Braintree back with more possession high up the pitch.

However, they too were unable really trouble Harry Aldridge in the Iron goal.

Aldridge wasn’t able to see out the game, though, as he picked up an injury that saw him have to come off and, with no substitute keeper on the bench, Webb donned the gloves as Christian Frimpong slotted into the back line.

While the change didn’t appear to unduly unsettle the hosts initially, it did buoy the visitors and was followed within a few minutes by an equaliser for Southend Manor.

In the 81st minute, James Brown cut along the edge of the box before curling a lovely shot that gave Webb little chance as it flew past and in off the post.

Braintree responded well to being pegged back, though, and Karl Oliyide crafted a nice opening that ended with Harley having save from a fierce effort.

The Manor keeper was then in the right place as a storming run out of defence by Michael-Percil ended with him drilling a shot that had to be palmed over from close range.

It looked as though Braintree would be the side to force a winner if anyone was, but they shot themselves in the foot midway through the six minutes of time added on at the end.

Southend’s winner came when Frimpong was caught in possession on the edge of his own area and, having been gifted possession, Jacob Cleaver had the simplest of tasks to stroke the ball unopposed past an exposed Webb.

Iron desperately tried to get back into the tie to force a penalty shootout and Michael-Percil brought a late save from Harley, but there was no joy at the end for the hosts as they were left to reflect on a disappointing cup exit.

Braintree Town: Harry Aldridge (Joe Jones 77), Mahrez Bettache (Connor Bolton 57), Tyler Campbell, Charlie Webb, Ricky Gabriel, Harry Seal, Matt Baxter, Christian Frimpong, Dernell Wynter (Karl Oliyide 45), Reece Grant, Roman Michael-Percil.

Subs not used: Matt Travell, Mark Dallinger.

Referee: Aaron Farmer.