Pre-season friendly

Braintree Town came from behind to wipe out a two-goal deficit and secure a draw against their near neighbours as their pre-season friendly against Coggeshall Town ended 2-2.

It was the first outing for Braintree at Cressing Road under manager Glen Driver and, following their 3-0 win at Newmarket on Saturday, they remained unbeaten under their new boss.

In an entertaining game, Coggeshall, who were having their first pre-season run-out, opened a two-goal lead, with a first-half strike added to just after the break, but they were cancelled out by a brace from Iron striker Tom Richardson as Braintree finished the stronger.

Coggeshall are one of the favourites to win the BetVictor Isthmian League division north and provided a physical test as it often showed that they were a more established group of players compared to the Iron’s fledgling and still developing unit.

However, Iron stood up pretty well to a robust examination.

Driver is asking his players to employ a passing brand of football, playing out from deep positions and it was clear that that was what they were trying to do.

The game started with Braintree seeing plenty of the ball as they looked to play out from the back, but they found themselves pegged back in the opening minutes and spent periods in their own half of the pitch.

The Seedgrowers looked to press high up the pitch and Braintree’s back line, along with goalkeeper Michael Johnson, had to be precise and quick in their interplay.

What was evident, though, was that manager Glen Driver is encouraging his players to be brave with the ball and patient in their build-up play.

And as his team converted their possession advantage into territorial gains they quickly started to push Coggeshall back and pose a threat in the Seedgrowers’ half of the pitch.

Their movement of the ball was swift and increasingly effective and while there were inevitable signs that this is an Iron team that is in a building stage and far from the finished article, there was plenty to be encouraged by.

The first Braintree shot on goal didn’t come until the 18th minute, though, as Alfie Cerulli fired in a low effort on the angle that was easily saved.

However, Braintree were unable to maintain sustained pressure on the Coggeshall goal and it was the visitors who posed the greater threat as the half proceeded.

Connor Hubble went close with a shot from just inside the Braintree area that fizzed off the outside of the post and Johnson got down low to keep out an effort from Ross Wall just past the half-hour mark.

However, the Seedgrowers weren’t to be kept out for long.

On 33 minutes, Dobson raced into the box and was upended by a challenge from Johnson that had referee Rob Whitton pointing instantly to the penalty spot.

Dobson stepped forward to take the spot-kick and although it was superbly saved by Johnson, Tevan Allen was quickest to react and prodded the loose ball over the Iron keeper for a 1-0 lead.

It could have been level at the break as a good passing move by Braintree down their right-hand side saw the ball find Charley Barker in a good position but he swept his shot over the bar and Coggeshall held on to their lead at the interval.

Braintree fielded almost an entirely different side for the second half and they were caught cold less than two minutes after the restart.

A loose ball in midfield landed at an unmarked Josh Pollard, who had all the time he needed to pick his spot and fire past Johnson – the only Iron player to return after the break – to double Coggeshall’s lead.

It was nearly halved on 58 minutes when a scintillating run from left-back by Ollie Saunders finished with him playing in striker Tom Richardson, who tucked the ball into the Coggeshall net.

However, celebrations were cut short by a raised offside flag from the assistant referee.

It was an encouraging sign from Braintree, though, as they continued to settle after the inauspicious opening to the second half, with Richardson looking a lively threat up front.

And he did get his reward in the 71st minute when he latched on to a ball over the top of the Coggeshall back line and lobbed the advancing keeper into the back of the net.

With Braintree tails now up, the Iron striker then went close when he headed just wide from a lovely cross by Rob Harvey.

With five minutes to go, Harvey had the goal in his sights himself as he broke inside from the left before being felled by the Seedgrowers’ keeper and, as he had in the first half, the referee points straight to the spot.

It was Richardson who stepped forward and he confidently powered the ball down the middle to level the scores at the final whistle.

Braintree Town: First half – Michael Johnson, Joshua Moore, Jayden Gipson, Toby Aljala, Ade Cole, Kyron Clements, Trey Charles, Alfie Cerulli, Charley Barker, Trialist, Trialist.

Second half – Michael Johnson, Aaron Lamont, Ollie Saunders, Rob Harvey, Jake Hutchings, Sergio Manesio, George Essuman, Ikeche Eze, Tom Richardson, Femi Akinwande, Trialist.