Vanarama National League

Braintree Town were unable to start Danny Searle’s managerial reign in charge with a win as Hartlepool United overturned a half-time deficit to beat the Iron 2-1.

Just as Braintree had had in the week leading up to the game, Hartlepool had had a managerial appointment, with new boss Craig Hignett taking charge for the first time.

And it was him out of the two new bosses who was the happier at the final whistle.

It was Searle’s first game in charge after the mid-week departure of Hakan Hayrettin and his team made the early running for him in the first half.

Despite a long trip on the day to the north east, they took the lead when Justin Amaluzor fired the Essex side ahead, but the 15 minutes after the break proved costly.

Two strikes, one from the penalty spot, ensured the Iron were unable to build on the 4-0 win they had against Barnet the week before.

The clash at Victoria Park was the second meeting between the two sides after the clash at Cressing Road earlier in the season had ended in a 1-1 draw.

Unsurprisingly, there were no changes for Braintree from the side that had won so emphatically against Barnet seven days before and they made a positive start this time.

The first chance of the game went to the Iron as Luke Allen fired a shot just over the bar on four minutes before Rob Atkinson headed over the crossbar and Justin Amaluzor then hit the post after he burst clear.

Just as it had against Barnet, the pace and movement of Braintree’s front line was causing difficulties for the Pools and the confidence gained from that previous result was clear to see.

However, Hartlepool were also not without early menace, with Nicke Kabamba proving a handful up front for the hosts.

It meant Hartlepool gradually saw more of the play and Luke Molyneux went close when he got clear after cutting inside and curled in a shot that Ben Killip had to turn behind for a corner.

Molyneux then hit a thunderous volley towards the Iron goal that had to be blocked away as the Pools tried to stay on the front foot.

However, the home side were unable to take advantage of the chances they created and, instead, it was Braintree who took one of theirs on 40 minutes.

The goal came after a free-kick on the edge of the Hartlepool area by Allen hit the wall but Hartlepool’s defence failed to clear their lines and a ball across the six-yard box was buried by Amaluzor, who stayed alert and got his reward.

It gave Braintree a deserved lead at half-time, but it was an advantage that lasted just seven minutes after the break.

The equaliser came as Hartlepool made a strong start to the second half and Kabamba dived full-length to head in and bring his team back into the match on 52 minutes.

The goal put home tails up as Braintree found themselves under pressure and worse was to come when Killip was adjudged to have fouled substitute Luke James, who had only come on at half-time, in the area.

Referee Rebecca Welch pointed to the penalty spot and Josh Hawkes converted to make sure the game was turned on its head after 59 minutes.

Braintree now knew that they had to respond but they were unable to carve out much in the way of clear-cut opportunities or to consistently place the Pools defence under pressure.

The visitors, cheered on by the 25 travelling fans among the crowd of 2,769, tried to push on for an equaliser at the end, including Killip going up for one late corner, but it came to nothing as they had to accept a 2-1 defeat for Searle’s first game in charge.

Braintree Town: Ben Killip, Andrew Eleftheriou, Luke Allen, Rob Atkinson, Ricky Gabriel, Kodi Lyons-Foster, Danny Rowe (Marcel Barrington 74), Cameron James, Courtney Richards (Lyle Della-Verde 61), Callum Morton, Justin Amaluzor.

Subs not used: Mo Sagaf, Ifeanyi Allen, Daniel Matzusaka.

Referee: Rebecca Welch.