Vanarama National League

It was Braintree Town who were cheering at the end of a battle between two sides lodged in the bottom three of the Vanarama National League’s form table.

A hat-trick of Iron players opened their goal accounts for the club with Aaron Eyoma, Korrey Henry and Sam Kelly all on target as Sutton were beaten 3-0.

The Iron came into the game on the back of a five-game losing run, while the hosts were also out of form, despite their sights still being set on a place in the play-offs at the end of the season.

The U’s had taken just two points from their previous six games and Braintree ensured their promotion push continued to falter.

The previous meeting between the two in November saw Braintree have a two-goal lead cancelled out late on at Cressing Road as that game ended in a 2-2 draw.

They were two ahead late on this time as well, but they shut up shop effectively for a much-needed three-point boost and even added a third goal to rub salt into Sutton’s wounds.

The Iron were even able to have the luxury of a missed penalty attempt just before half-time and while they stayed bottom in the table, their unwelcome run of form came to a welcome end.

There were two changes for the Iron from the side that started the 4-0 defeat by Harrogate Town on Saturday.

They saw a return to the line-up for Courtney Richards and a first start for Derby County loanee Eyoma as Mo Sagaf and Ifeanyi Allen both dropped to the bench.

Meanwhile, there were a couple of former Irons lining up against their old team in the Sutton side, with ex-Braintree skipper Kenny Davis and Aswad Thomas starting, while goalkeeper Jamie Butler was on the bench for the hosts.

It had been a disappointing performance from Braintree in their previous game when conceding an early set them off on the wrong foot.

So they were keen to take the sting out of any early push by Sutton on this occasion and were happy to see no real threats on Ben Killip’s goal in the opening spell of the game.

However, clear-cut chances were also a rarity heading the other way as both sides took their time settling into the match.

It was Sutton who gradually began to gain a greater foothold and Jamie Collins sent a header just over the bar from a corner on 15 minutes, but the Iron weren’t unduly troubled.

Two minutes later came Braintree’s first chance as Andrew Eleftheriou whipped in a cross at the other end and Rob Atkinson sent a header just wide of the target.

After the tight start, the game had begun to open up more and Sutton’s Harry Beautyman then lifted a driven shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

But Braintree began to impose themselves more on the break as the half wore on and they twice went close in quick succession on the half-hour mark as they built some pressure.

The first chance fell to Korrey Henry, whose shot was saved by Sutton keeper Ross Worner, but the ball broke only as far as Kodi Lyons-Foster and he slammed a shot from the angle into the side netting.

Richards then found Eyoma in space on the left and the Derby county man cut inside and got a shot away only to see Worner make a save low down.

It was a decent spell from Braintree and a shot by Sam Kelly was then parried away by Worner, however, Sutton also kept looking for an opener.

Beckwith headed wide from a good delivery from a free-kick into the box by Thomas and the hosts also felt aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty after what they felt was a foul in the Iron box.

However, it was Braintree who did get a decision from referee Gary Parsons just before half-time.

On 42 minutes, Luke Allen was felled as he surged into the box and stepped up to take the spot-kick.

He had scored from a penalty in the game against Chesterfield seven days earlier but saw his effort saved by Worner this time and despite Allen being quick to follow up, he fired the rebound wide of the target.

It was the latest in a string of missed penalty kicks by Iron players and buoyed the hosts, allowing them to finish the half strongly, with Roarie Deacon seeing a decent effort deflected away as the half ended goalless.

Despite the disappointment at the end of the first half, Braintree came out positively after the break and Henry forced Worner into another smart save from an early corner.

And they then went even closer two minutes later when Lyons-Foster fired in a shot from close range that had to be cleared off the line by Thomas.

Having ridden the Iron’s early storm, though, Sutton started to press more themselves, with Beautyman firing just wide and Deacon then sent an effort over the crossbar.

However, it was the Iron who proved the more clinical in the 61st minute.

A long ball forward from Killip was headed down by Eyoma and Henry muscled his way in before lifting the ball over Worner for his first goal in Braintree colours.

It was the breakthrough that the visitors wanted, but Sutton knew they had to hit back if they wanted their faltering promotion campaign to not come off the rails completely.

They made changes and substitute Dylan Kearney hooked the ball just wide of the target from a long throw-in by another newly-introduced player, James Dobson, on 70 minutes.

However, it made no difference and it was Braintree who added to their tally eight minutes later when another player – Kelly – opened his Iron scoring account.

The second goal came after some neat trickery by Eyoma and a pass into the area that found Kelly and he doubled the lead by slotting the ball home.

It gave the Iron a comfortable buffer to end the game and while Sutton pressed for a way back in, it was Braintree who finished with a fresh high as Eyoma became the third player to score his first Iron goal.

The U’s had been pressing, but were caught by a quick break from Ifeanyi Allen, who laid the ball in to Luke Allen and he played in the Rams loanee, who completed the job to send the travelling Iron fans home very satisfied.

Braintree Town: Ben Killip, Andrew Eleftheriou, Rob Atkinson, Cameron James, Kodi Lyons-Foster (Dan Matsuzaka 49), Sam Kelly (Ifeanyi Allen 83), Aaron Eyoma, Oscar Borg, Courtney Richards, Luke Allen (Jayden Gibson 90), Korrey Henry. Subs not used: Danny Rowe, Mo Sagaf.

Referee: Gary Parsons.