Vanarama National League

On a day when positives were in abundance for Braintree Town, there was one crucial factor that went against them as the Iron’s relegation from the Vanarama National League was confirmed.

A 2-0 win against Gateshead brought Braintree a first home and away double of the season, they also moved off the foot of the table, kept a clean sheet and had a goal on his debut for youngster Alfie Cerulli to cheer.

But while Braintree did their bit, the headline on the day was that results elsewhere went against them and made sure it became mathematically impossible for them to stay up in the top flight of non-league football this year.

There were three changes for Braintree from the side that started the 4-2 defeat by Bromley seven days before.

There was a first start for Sven Karic after the defender had joined the day before on loan from Derby County, while Dan Matsuzaka and Mo Sagaf both returned to the starting line-up.

Coming out of the side were the injured Rob Atkinson and Luke Allen, while Oscar Borg dropped to the bench.

There was also a first appearance on the bench for youngster Kieran Smith.

Braintree knew they had to start well as anything other than a three-point haul would not do for them and, after a quiet start by both sides, they had the first sight of goal on nine minutes.

It came when Sagaf, who finished the game against Bromley by scoring a wonder goal from outside the area, tried his luck again and it took a good save from Gateshead keeper Aynsley Pears to tip it over the bar.

Sagaf then became the provider when he played in Korrey Henry on 22 minutes as they tried to stay positive, but the Iron striker’s effort was blocked and, three minutes later, Ifeanyi Allen fired a shot straight at Pears after Braintree broke from defending their own area.

It was a good spell for the hosts and less than a minute had passed when Henry’s shot from an acute angle nestled in the side netting of the goal.

However, the threat wasn’t just flowing in one direction and Ben Killip had to be alert on 32 minutes when Connor Thomson broke clear and the Iron keeper had to make a good save to keep it goalless.

The visitors then went even closer from a corner when a header by Jon Mellish hit first the crossbar and then the post before bouncing clear to where the Iron were able to get it away to safety.

Having seen off the threats, though, Braintree took the lead five minutes before half-time.

They were awarded a penalty when Matsuzaka was felled in the area and Henry stepped forward and converted to give the hosts a slender lead at the break.

Gateshead emerged with purpose after half-time and they went close to a leveller on 56 minutes when Steve Rigg’s low ball into the Iron area was side-footed just wide by Thomson.

Killip was then needed to make another smart stop from a one-on-one situation with Thomson, but on 75 minutes, it was the Iron’s turn to go close as Pears tip over a great effort from Aaron Eyoma.

The Heed shotstopper was also required to be alert in the 84th minute when he did well to tip a free-kick by Sagaf on to the crossbar and he showed his worth again two minutes later.

Cerulli had come on in the 80th minute to make his Iron debut and almost got on the scoresheet, but Pears once again made the save.

However, the Braintree Academy product wasn’t to be denied a goal on his first senior appearance as he picked up the ball in the area and rammed it into the bottom corner to make an immediate impression.

It gave the Iron a two-goal cushion and it was one they held on to until the final whistle, although Gateshead did hit the bar in injury-time and Killip made a good save from the follow-up effort to make sure they held on to their clean sheet as well.

So there were cheers at the final whistle but they were tinged with the knowledge that results elsewhere meant time was called on their spell in the National League.

Braintree Town: Ben Killip, Kodi Lyons-Foster, Andrew Eleftheriou, Sven Karic, Dan Matsuzaka, Cameron James (Oscar Borg 47), Courtney Richards, Aaron Eyoma (Kieran Smith 90), Mo Sagaf, Ifeanyi Allen (Alfie Cerulli 80), Korrey Henry.

Subs not used: Ikechi Eze, Shane Temple.

Referee: Paul Howard.