BRAINTREE Town are going down a new path after withdrawing their reserve side from the Thurlow Nunn League.

When the FA published the provisional list of sides in Thurlow Nunn League division one south for the 2019/20 season this week, there was one name not included - Braintree Town Reserves.

Chairman Lee Harding said withdrawing the team was a decision that had been taken as the benefits of having a reserve side playing at a senior level in non-league football was not outweighing the financial cost to the club.

And he said a different - hopefully more cost effective - approach would be tried next year where first-team players could get game time if required and young players could build experience.

Harding said: "We have taken the decision to withdraw the reserves side from the Thurlow Nunn League as we looked at it and felt that we were not getting an enormous amount of benefit out of playing there. "Instead, we will be looking to play a series of friendlies against under-23 sides next year where a younger orientated team can build experience.

"We're looking to have games against under-23 sides from Football League clubs, local clubs playing Conference level and even some other local non-league clubs, but it won't be a reserve side in the Thurlow Nunn League as we have had for the last few years.

"So it will be something a bit different next season.

"It might not work as we want it to and we'll then go down another route but that's the thinking for now."

Harding applauded the work done by reserves manager John Pike last year in taking the team to a 15th-place in division one south and said having sides playing below the first team was what they wanted, but the chairman felt the sums just weren't adding up for them.

He added: "John (Pike) did a good job for the club when he took over the reserve side, but the gulf between Thurlow Nunn League division one and the National League - where the first team were - was too big.

"It was costing us a lot of money to run the reserves and we just weren't seeing the benefits, so we felt we'd be better placed putting that money into the first team at this moment in time.

"We were only getting crowds of 30 to 40 for reserve games because most of the players last year were coming up from London and there wasn't the affinity with Braintree. "It was costing us money every game and over the season the reserves cost us about £5,000.

"We love to extol the virtues of being a club rather than just a first team, but we can't afford to do that."

An alternative to having a team playing under-23 sides was to establish a local reserve league involving Braintree and similar-placed clubs from Essex, Suffolk and London, but while Harding said it was something they were willing to look at, it would not be happening this season.

Harding said: "We have looked at the possibility of instigating and Essex and bordering areas reserve league where clubs such as ourselves, Chelmsford, Billericay and Dagenham & Redbridge could be involved.

"It would be for clubs playing in steps one to three (of the non-league footballing pyramid), but something like that takes organising and at this moment in time I'm not sure it will happen."