Vanarama National League

It was a game that encapsulated much of Braintree Town’s season.

There were spells of encouragement and attacking intent, but they ultimately came up short as an element of naivety was ruthlessly exploited by an opposition that was seasoned to operate at this level.

And the upshot was a 3-1 win for Chesterfield that left the bottom-placed Iron’s Vanarama National League survival hopes receding even further into the distance.

Chesterfield effectively had the game sewn up by half-time after goals from Scott Boden and Charlie Carter before he break and although Luke Allen gave the hosts hope with a penalty on 65 minutes, Boden snuffed that out with a late third for the Spireites.

This was the final one of a trio of games for Iron against opponents in the same part of the table as themselves and had been a run where a healthy points haul was not just desirable but a necessity.

However, defeats by Aldershot and Dover and now this latest one against Chesterfield have made the spectre of relegation loom even greater.

There were three changes for the Iron from the side that started in the 3-0 defeat at Dover on Saturday.

They saw returns to the starting line-up for Dan Matsuzaka and Luke Allen, while Rob Atkinson came back after missing two games following a concussion injury at Eastleigh.

Dropping out were Ricky Gabriel, who was suspended after being sent off at the weekend, along with Korrey Henry and Karleigh Osborne, who dropped to the bench.

With those changes, it was a defensive back three for the Iron with Andrew Eleftheriou and Oscar Borg pushing on in wide areas and a mobile and fluent midfield and forward unit.

That adventure paid dividends in the early stages as Braintree made an encouraging start and looked to be positive.

They had a couple of close calls and it almost led to an opening goal on seven minutes when persistence by Callum Morton saw him win the ball and force a save by Chesterfield keeper Shwan Jalal low at his near post.

They went even closer in the 13th minute as a free-kick from the right was cleared only as far as Ifeanyi Allen who took aim with a superbly-hit volley that clattered back off the Chesterfield crossbar.

However, the early goal didn’t come and Braintree were made to pay as the Spireites began to press themselves.

They had a close call when a long ball to the back post was headed towards goal by Tom Denton and had to be clawed away by Ben Killip in the home goal.

It was a warning, but one that wasn’t heeded and Chesterfield took the lead from a similar situation on 15 minutes.

The opener came when another cross from the right by full-back Josef Yarney was headed down by Denton on the penalty spot and Scott Boden reacted quickest to drill the ball into the net from close range.

It was a setback for the Iron and they tried to respond, but they then shot themselves in the foot on 24 minutes.

Having battled to win the ball, possession was surrendered in a dangerous position and Boden laid the ball off to Charlie Carter, who curled it in from 20 yards past Killip and into the bottom corner.

It was the sort of goal that the Iron just couldn’t afford to give away and made sure the Spireites were able to see out the rest of the half at their ease.

It was a situation that wasn’t really changed after the restart either as the visitors’ goal was rarely threatened in the opening spell after the break, but a lifeline suddenly presented itself on 64 minutes.

Five minutes earlier, Morton had been stretchered off after landing heavily under a challenge and it was his replacement, Korrey Henry, who gave the hosts some hope.

Henry had advanced into the Chesterfield area and was looking to turn his marker, but was caught and referee Lloyd Wood pointed straight to the penalty spot.

The previous couple of spot-kicks had been unsuccessful and costly for Braintree, but Luke Allen stepped forward and made no mistake this time to give the hosts hope.

It had a predictably big impact as the Iron suddenly looked energised and it was Chesterfield, who had looked so comfortable, that appeared rattled.

Braintree looked like thy believed they could get something from the game, but that wasn’t to last.

Atkinson went the closest to an equaliser with a shot just past the post from a corner, but Chesterfield restored the two-goal advantage on 83 minutes to kill off home hopes.

The visitors’ third had little guile about it as a long punt upfield saw Braintree defenders racing to get to the ball along with Ben Killip coming off his line but it was Boden who just got high enough to head the ball into the empty net.

It allowed the comfort to return for the visitors and they saw out the game with ease as Braintree's hopes took a fresh blow.

Braintree Town: Ben Killip, Andrew Eleftheriou, Dan Matsuzaka, Rob Atkinson, Cameron James, Kodi Lyons-Foster, Oscar Borg, , Callum Morton (Korrey Henry 59), Mo Sagaf (Lyle Della-Verde 90), Ifeanyi Allen (Danny Rowe 82), Luke Allen.

Subs not used: Courtney Richards, Karleigh Osborne.