FA Cup fourth round qualifying

IT may have been Braintree Town’s smallest home attendance of the season, but those who made it to the Iron’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie against Bromley were treated to the highlight of their season so far.

The 343 who attended saw Braintree come back from 2-0 down after 52 minutes to stage a stunning fightback and book a place in Monday’s first round proper draw.

Their 4-2 victory means the Iron will fly the flag as Essex’s sole non-league side still in the FA Cup and their name will be in the first round draw for the fifth consecutive year.

However, that looked a very distant prospect early in the second half as they trailed by two goals to a Bromley side who were unbeaten in their three previous Vanarama National League outings.

The impressive Blair Turgott had given the Ravens a two-goal buffer with strikes either side of the half-time break and the Iron’s confidence was clearly hit.

They also had goalkeeper Will Puddy struggling to walk let alone kick the ball and command his area after taking a nasty blow in the 23rd minute.

But after Michael Cheek sprung the offside trap and slammed home his second goal of the season in the 56th minute, they looked a team transformed.

Belief surged through them and the introduction of substitute Joe Maybanks added an extra edge to their forward play.

That showed in the 70th minute as Chez Isaac carried the ball across the face of the Bromley penalty area before unleashing a drive that Ravens keeper Alan Julian got a hand to but couldn’t stop dipping under the bar.

There suddenly looked only one team going to win the tie and with the momentum fully behind them, Braintree hit their visitors with a third goal just two minutes later.

Simeon Akinola broke and drove at the Bromley defence before playing in Maybanks, who drilled the ball to the back post to where Cheek rammed it home for a 3-2 lead.

Bromley tried their best to find an equaliser, but the Iron defended heroically, none more so than Colchester United loanee George Elokobi, who had an immense game at the back When Harry Lee fired home an unstoppable free-kick in the 90th minute from 35 yards the comeback kings were ready to be crowned and they were greeted to a royal reception at the final whistle from the Braintree fans among the crowd of 343.

Braintree: Will Puddy, Barney Williams, Jerome Okimo, Ian Gayle, George Elokobi, Harry lee, Chez Isaac (Jack Midson), Sam Matthews, Sam Corne (Joe Maybanks), Simeon Akinola, Michael Cheek (Lee Barnard). Subs not used: Jon Ashton, Brandon Goodship, Reece Hall-Johnson, Jack Cowgill. Referee: Craig Hicks.