Vanarama National League

A controversial goal that sparked uproar among the travelling players and staff not only denied Braintree Town a 17th clean sheet of the season but more importantly an eighth away day victory at Guiseley.

There was acrimony at the final whistle as the Iron were held to a Vanarama National League draw by their Yorkshire hosts as the equalising goal came in controversial circumstances.

Having held a 1-0 advantage in the 73rd minute thanks to Michael Cheek’s 12th goal of the campaign, Braintree were pegged back by a goal from Oliver Norburn.

However, wasn’t a straightforward equaliser and left a bitter taste in the mouths of the travelling contingent.

With Cheek needing treatment for an injury the visitors had put the ball so he could receive it and expected the usual unwritten convention of the opposition returning the ball afterwards to be duly observed.

It was, but in returning the ball to Braintree after the restart, Norburn lofted it over Iron keeper Tom King and into the net.

With the goal being technically legitimate, it stood, however, Braintree were riled by the manner in which it had come and even more so by Guiseley’s unwillingness to gift them one back to redress the position.

The Iron had made three changes from the side that started the 2-0 win against Halifax in midweek.

Dan Sparkes and Matt Fry were out with injuries, while Remy Clerima’s groin problem saw him move to the bench, while Mitch Brundle and Anthony Edgar made returns to the starting line-up and Matt Paine came back in after suspension.

It was a bright start from the Iron, with a flurry of early corners as they looked to put pressure on the hosts.

They had scored after just 38 seconds of Tuesday’s game against Halifax at home but there was no instant breakthrough this time.

That’s not to say they didn’t go looking for an opener and the home side were denied any early momentum as Braintree pushed forward.

The closest they came to unlocking the Guiseley defence was in the 17th minute when the ball arrived to Michael Cheek at the back post but he was just unable to direct his shot on target.

Simeon Akkinola saw another effort go just past the post and Braintree’s inability to break the deadlock allowed the Yorkshire side to get more of a hold in the game.

In the 29th minute, they finally threatened the Iron goal when a ball into the visitors’ box came off a Braintree player and with home players appealing for handball, the loose ball fell to Oliver Norburn.

His quick reaction was almost rewarded when he was able to fire off a great shot but Braintree keeper Tom King stretched to his left-hand side and did well to palm the ball away.

The opportunity lifted the hosts and they went close to opening the scoring again when a snapshot by Nicky Boshell was cleared off the line by a Braintree foot.

The rebound came to Jake Lawlor who got a header away and King was able to make the clearance once more.

Having seen off the danger, Braintree looked to re-establish their own forward momentum and they went close again when a free-kick from Sam Habergham was well-saved by home keeper Daniel Atkinson.

But they didn’t have to wait too long to make sure they held the lead at half-time.

In the 42nd minute, the ball was lost in midfield by Guiseley and it broke to Cheek, who advanced and slotted it past Atkinson with the coolest of finishes to put Braintree 1-0 up.

It meant Braintree held the advantage at the end of the opening 45 minutes and they started the second half well, with Chez Isaac seeing an effort deflected just wide in the first few seconds after the break.

Braintree stayed in the ascendancy and went close to a second goal in the 63rd minute when a cross from Edgar fell on to Kenny Davis but his header was just kept out by Atkinson on the line.

It was then Edgar himself with a chance as he broke one-on-one and was only denied by a good save from Atkinson.

It meant the Iron’s lead remained a slender one and an equaliser came in controversial fashion.

Cheek went down injured in the 73rd minute and the ball was put out so he could receive treatment.

However, in returning the ball to Braintree after the restart, Norburn lofted it over King and into the Iron net.

It brought a wave of protests from the visitors, but the goal stood and it left a tense finish to the game as both sides went looking for a winner.

Braintree looked the more likely to do that, but in the end, neither was able to force that winner the Iron were left with a sour taste in the mouth at the final whistle.

The record books may show that Braintree were held to a 1-1 draw on their trip north, but it was an ending that they will feel was totally unpalatable.

Braintree: Tom King, Sam Habergham, Chez Isaac (Taylor Miles 90), Anthony Edgar (Joe Gardner 72), Kenny Davis, Mark Phillips, Simeon Akinola, Matt Paine, Mitch Brundle, Michael Cheek (Sean Marks 81), Alex Woodyard.

Subs not used: Remy Clerima, Michael Crowe.

Referee: Tom Nield.