Pre-season friendly

THE Glen Driver era got under way for Braintree Town at a wet Newmarket Town on Saturday afternoon.

There were a large number of followers from Essex among the 166 crowd, all keen to see Iron’s new signings for the first time and their first action since Driver was appointed as manager.

Three of them were not in attendance - Jermaine Osei, Aaron Lamont and Roman Michael-Percil - but 24 players were used, with goalkeeper Michael Johnson the only one to play the whole 90 minutes as a different starting line-up began each half. Supporters recognised youngsters Alfie Cerulli, Jayden Gipson and Keiron Smith, who all featured in the first-team squad at the end of last season, while Joel Lamb, Ben Donald, Reuben Akande and Daniel Olusemo all featured for the reserves last season.

Eagle-eyed supporters also spotted Charley Barker, who had played for the Iron last season in the friendlies at Newmarket and at home against Ipswich Town.

The Thurlow Nunn League premier division hosts were the first to show and the opening exchanges were played out in Braintree’s half.

Johnson was called into action in the fifth minute, parrying a low drive, but Iron went ahead five minutes later when a free-kick was pumped into the box and centre back Ben Donald was in the right place to stab the ball home.

At half time Iron were still 1-0 ahead and had also struck the bar, with Sean Bonnett-Johnson and Jayden Gipson having had particularly good 45-minute spells.

Soon after the restart, and after multiple changes, former Colchester United player Femi Akinwande played a sublime through ball to striker Tom Richardson, who dinked the ball over the keeper and into the net off the far post.

Newmarket stepped up the aggression and were contesting every ball and the physical challenges were more intense than may have been expected at this stage of pre-season but it gave a good test for Iron.

On occasions, Iron got themselves into trouble by overplaying out from the back and the crossbar came to their rescue on one occasion, but they put the game out of reach when Richardson’s neat footwork in the area enabled him to drill home the third goal.

In the final minute Newmarket’s keeper spilled a long-range effort from Trey Charles and then tripped Alfie Cerulli as he closed in on the rebound.

However, rather than be given a penalty, Cerulli was given off-side and it stayed 3-0 to Braintree at the final whistle.

BRAINTREE TOWN: First half - Michael Johnson, Joshua Moore, Ollie Saunders, Ben Donald, Jayden Gipson, Toby, Reuben Akande (Kieron Smith), Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Daniel Olusemo, Ade Cole, Rob Harvey.

Second half - Michael Johnson, Harry Osborne, Joel Lamb (Jake Hutchings), Sergio Manesio, George Essuman, Kyron Clements, Trey Charles, Ikeche Eze, Tom Richardson (Alfie Cerulli), Charley Barker, Femi Akinwande.