Vanarama National League South

Braintree Town were able to hold on to second place in the Vanarama National League South table despite falling to a third away defeat of the season at Wealdstone.

It was a better second half from the Iron as they battled to get something from their trip to the Stones, but they paid the price for falling behind in the opening 46 minutes of action.

There were three changes for the Iron from the side that started their 3-0 FA Trophy win against Cray Wanderers seven days before.

Joe Ellul stepped back into the back line after being cup tied for the Trophy game and was a direct replacement for the suspended Marc-Anthony Okoye.

The other changes came higher up the pitch as Ben Wyatt and Dernell Wynter returned to the starting line up with strikers Phil Roberts and Marcel Barrington on the bench.

The game started with Braintree having the first sight of goal as, with seven minutes on the clock, a cross from Mahrez Bettache found its way to Wyatt in a central position.

He was unable to make full contact with the ball, though, and Wealdstone keeper Jonathan North was well-placed to make the save.

Rather than the Iron getting their noses in front, though, it was the home side who took the lead with a fortuitous strike a minute later.

The opening goal came as Ryan Sellers struck a long-range effort that found its way past Iron keeper Nathan McDonald into the net via a deflection off Toafiq Olomowewe.

After the setback, Braintree tried to hit back, with first Christian Frimpong trying a neat flicked effort from a 20th minute corner and Billy Crook then had a shot saved by North from a counter-attack by Karl Oliyide and Roman Michael-Percil.

Oliyide also almost profited from a counter-attack himself when he tried to finish a move he had started only to see his header saved by North from Wynter’s cross.

After seeing that chance slip away, further salt was rubbed in Braintree’s wound in the 32nd minute.

It became 2-0 to the hosts when a long ball forward wasn’t dealt with by the Iron defence and Daniel Fitchett nipped in to tuck the ball past McDonald with a goal that completed a disappointing half for the Iron.

They knew they would have a mountain to climb after the restart, but that became even steeper within 40 seconds of the second half getting under way.

Wealdstone’s third goal came from a cross by Sellers that was punched clear by McDonald, however, Daniel Green fired the loose ball back with interest as it flew into the top corner of the goal.

It was the worst possible start for Braintree, but they tried to respond, with first Frimpong having a volleyed effort saved by North and then Bettache going close with a cross-cum-shot that went just over the bar.

The breakthrough did come in the 65th minute, though, when the ball was headed in from a Braintree corner.

It was the pick-up that the Iron needed and they went looking for a second, with Roberts, who had come off the bench at the start of the second half, testing North and Frimpong then firing into the side netting.

The momentum was with the visitors as they kept pressing for a way back into the game.

Ellul forced North into another save as he headed for goal from a cross by Bettache, however, the damage had been done in the earlier stages and Wealdstone held on for a 3-1 victory.

Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Mahrez Bettache, Joe Ellul, Osa Obamwonyi, Ricky Gabriel, Christian Frimpong, Billy Crook, Ben Wyatt (Samir Bihmoutine 84), Roman Michael-Percil (Phil Roberts 47), Karl Oliyide, Dernell Wynter (Marcel Barrington 52).

Subs not used: Matt Baxter, Luke Allen.

Referee: Lee Brennan.