Vanarama National League

Braintree Town were taught a lesson in making the most of goal-scoring chances as they somehow lost a Vanarama National League game that should have been sewn up by half-time.

The Iron had been so dominant in the first half against Chester that their play deserved a three or four-goal lead.

It was probably their most complete half of football this season, with impressive displays all over the pitch and the only surprise was that their advantage was so slender at the break.

They peppered the Chester goal in a completely mis-matched 45 minutes, however, they were only able to take one of the multitude of chances they created.

That was a bullet header from Jack Midson, but the fact that that was all they had to show for their dominance was possibly the most crucial statistic of the afternoon.

It came back to haunt them horribly as Chester emerged from their half-time respite looking a different team.

It was the visitors who pressed and they got their reward with two second-half strikes from James Alabi to take the points that had looked to be staying in Essex in the first half.

There were three changes for Braintree from the side that started the 3-0 defeat at Dagenham and Redbridge.

Returning to the side were striker Lee Barnard and midfielder Sam Corne, while winger Kris Twardek started after joining on loan from Millwall a couple of days earlier.

Coming out of the Iron side were Harry Lee and Joe Maybanks, who dropped to the bench while Reece Hall-Johnson was starting a three-match ban after getting sent off at the Daggers.

It was a positive start from Braintree, who made all the running in the first few minutes.

A Michael Cheek free-kick was curled just wide and a good move opened Chester down their left with Sean Clohessy getting forward and lofting a lovely ball in to the back post, but Twardek just couldn't control it and the chance went.

Chester just couldn’t get hold of the ball as the movement of the Iron’s forward players tormented the Chester defence and they created a string of dangerous corners supplied by the boot of Corne.

On 15 minutes, one such excellent delivery from the midfielder found the head of Jack Midson, who just failed to keep it down and the ball went just over.

A lovely cross from the right in open play by Barnard was then met by the head of Cheek, who directed the ball inches past the post and another Corne corner saw them go even closer soon after.

It was met by Jerome Okimo and was heading in but Elliott Durrell headed off the line for Chester as the visitors just about held on.

It was almost complete domination for the home side and the only thing lacking was a goal.

However, that was remedied in the 30th minute.

Having won the ball well in midfield, Twardek swung in a beautiful cross in from the left and it was powered in by a bullet header from Midson.

It was the breakthrough that Braintree had been threatening all along and one that was fully merited.

Their link-up play across the midfield and forward line was a joy for the home fans to watch as they held almost complete dominance throughout the opening 45 minutes.

Just before the break, another corner saw pinball in the area and a Chester clearance came off one of their own players and back off the post.

It meant the half ended with the Iron leading and perhaps the only surprise was that it wasn’t by more as they had been so dominant.

The second half started with the Iron looking to add to their lead and Twardek drifted a good cross to the back post that Midson was just unable to profit from.

It stayed with the hosts having their slender lead, but Chester looked more capable of getting back into the game after the restart.

That was the danger for Braintree and it was highlighted when Chester substitute Matty Waters drilled a shot just over from a dangerous position in the 53rd minute.

It should have served as a warning but one that wasn’t heeded.

Braintree had started to sit a bit deeper as Chester grew in confidence and a teasing cross by Kane Richards into the middle saw James Alabi just get a touch ahead of Sam Beasant to direct the ball into the net.

It was an equalising goal that probably shouldn’t have been so and the Iron suddenly found themselves pressed back by a resurgent Chester.

The visitors hadn’t been in the game in the first 45 minutes but were now running things and it was the Iron’s turn to look ragged.

The hosts were lucky to stay level in the 73rd minute when a misplaced pass in midfield allowed Durrell to break clear of the back line but he pulled his shot across the face of goal.

It was a let-off for the Iron but they remained looking vulnerable and were hit by a hammer blow in the 84th minute.

Alabi got clear of the back line and was precise with his shot past Beasant.

Braintree were staring down the barrel of a hugely disappointing defeat and that became reality as they were unable to recover in the final few minutes to get at least something from a game that should have been sewn up by the midpoint.

Braintree Town: Sam Beasant, Jerome Okimo, Ian Gayle, Sean Clohessy, Manny Parry, Chez Isaac (Joe Maybanks 83), Kris Twardek, Sam Corne (Harry Lee 78), Jack Midson, Michael Cheek (Alex Henshall 70), Lee Barnard.

Subs not used: Jake Goodman, Ben McNamara.

Referee: Adam Bromley.