THERE was a certain Marmite-ness about Ryan Maxwell, who left Braintree Town by mutual consent on Tuesday. Or rather, about his team’s performances: either very tasty or indigestible, writes RON FOSKER.

Nothing summed that up better than the last two matches of the season, a superb win at a Dartford side still in search of points to go straight into the play-off semi-finals, followed by a miserable defeat by already relegated Billericay.

Consistency has been the chink in Maxwell’s armour all season. A good result was often followed by a bad result, a good run by a bad run.

It was difficult to square the good with the bad. It was often the same team, or very close to it, that shone and then drizzled, rising to the occasion against the good teams and disappointing against the lower end of the table.

The question had to be asked: how did Maxwell raise them for one match but fail to do so for another?

It was that unanswered question that probably sealed his fate.

If there was some surprise at his departure – and fans’ social media comments have been mostly complimentary – a greater surprise is that it did not happen earlier.

He came through the door in November 2020 after George Borg’s second spell ended with eight consecutive defeats (seven in the league and one in the FA Cup).

He could reasonably have expected to go back out of it again after his team also suffered eight defeats in a row, again seven league and one FA Cup, in September and October 2021.

It was not just the defeats, though, that counted against him, but the unambitious style.

Braintree and Witham Times:

The long ball has been a feature to a greater or lesser extent of many Braintree sides over the years, but here it was taken to excess.

Billy Johnson, an excellent keeper in many ways, only very rarely took the option of rolling the ball out to a defender to build an attack.

Instead it was belted upfield, and more frequently than was healthy, belted into touch. The back line followed suit, opting for the easy way out.

When the ball did go down the middle, there was only Luke Holness, who had neither the height of a Sean Marks or the athleticism of a Tom Derry to reach it.

And yet the tactic persisted.

More curious was Maxwell’s apparent unwillingness to trust his more skilful players.

Ezra Ikebuasi, possibly the most skilful full-back at the club since Sam Habergham, was mysteriously frozen out and Gio Crichlow, the most inventive of his forward line, was never certain to make the starting line-up until well into the season.

Braintree and Witham Times:

In addition, Maxwell’s scouting ability could be called into question. Including friendlies, Iron used 76 players during the season.

Many of those were try-outs in the close season, but a revolving door remained throughout as many new signings were found wanting.

Could closer observation before they had arrived at the club have produced a more settled side?

But one should not be too harsh.

The constant flow of players was evidence of Maxwell’s continuing efforts to improve the side and it also reflects the budget he was working with, smaller than most, if not all, of his rivals.

Keeping Iron in the National League set-up with limited resources is something he can be proud of.

There were many blemishes along the way, but at least they are still there to fight another day.