BRAINTREE TOWN’S slim survival hopes were dealt another huge blow as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat at Dover Athletic.

The sides met in a crunch National League contest at the Crabble Athletic Ground.

Both teams were in desperate need of points, deep in relegation danger.

Braintree are anchored to the foot of the table while Dover started just above the drop zone, a point above Havant and Waterlooville.

Given the stakes, Braintree needed a strong start but the exact opposite applied as they were reduced to ten men after just six minutes.

Ricky Gabriel was given his marching orders after an incident before a free-kick.

Dover's Alfie Pavey went down clutching his face and a red card was brandished after a discussion between the referee and his assistant.

Braintree’s afternoon went from bad to worse as they succumbed to a painful defeat.

Pavey’s 20th-minute goal gave the Kent side impetus, reacting quickly after a great save from keeper Ben Killip.

Jai Reason doubled their lead on the hour-mark and Mitch Brundle rubbed salt into the wound by adding a third on 74 minutes.

It was a sapping defeat for Danny Searle’s side, who remain bottom – still a point behind Maidstone United, who were due to play in the late kick-off at Solihull Moors (5.20pm).

Aldershot Town and Havant, the other sides in the relegation zone, also lost but Dover’s victory means they are now 14 points better off than Braintree.

The Iron host 19th-place Chesterfield on Tuesday night.