BRAINTREE Town captain Marc-Anthony Okoye believes the Iron’s young players will relish the pressure of being in the Vanarama National League South promotion race in the second half of the season.

The Iron completed their festive fixtures by picking up a third consecutive stalemate against fellow promotion contenders when they followed a 1-1 draw at leaders Dartford with back-to-back 2-2 results against Chelmsford City and head into Saturday’s home game against East Thurrock United sat sixth and just four points off the top.

With the summit looking so tight, it is set to be a tense second half to the campaign, but Okoye feels the Iron have the personnel to rise to the challenge.

He said: “It is tight up at the top of the table and people always say look at where you are in January so we’ll see and we’ll be trying hard over the next couple of weeks.

“I think you’ll start to see a few teams pulling clear over the next little while.

“Dartford are four points clear now, but there are sides with games in hand and everything can change in just one game when it’s like this.

“We have to make sure we’re on it every week, but with the group of boys we have, I think we can handle it.

“I think the pressure will do us good and will help us not to be complacent so we can deliver each week and we can have a positive end to the season.”

However, the Braintree skipper does agree with manager Brad Quinton that they will need to cut out mistakes, like the ones that cost them in the two games against Chelmsford over Christmas and New Year, if they are to realise their full potential.

“We were very disappointed in ourselves against Chelmsford,” added Okoye.

“Of course Chelmsford are a good side and it’s not a loss, but look at the goals we conceded and they have come from mistakes over the two games.

“All four have come from mistakes and we need to cut that out to make sure we’re putting more points on the board.

“We know we’re a young squad and we’ll take the positives from what we’ve done but we have to take the negatives as well.

“We all have the ability to compete at this level and higher, but going through situations like at Chelmsford shows we have to draw that little bit more out of us to take us to the next level.

“It could have been worse for us over Christmas as we could have had a couple of losses in there, so we’ll take the positives and we’re just trying to put as many points on the board as possible.”