Pre-season friendly

Braintree Town were given a good workout in their penultimate pre-season fixture as Glen Driver’s side headed to Maldon & Tiptree.

The Jammers are among the favourites to claim the BetVictor Isthmian League division north title this year and they showed why they are highly regarded with a strong test for the Iron.

On a warm evening, it was an enjoyable game that saw numerous chances at both ends and while Maldon scored from a second-half penalty, two quality strikes from Femi Akinwande and Adam Mills secured a 2-1 win for Braintree.

The game had started with the Iron settling well and they went close on five minutes when a good move saw the ball cut back to Tom Richardson on the edge of the box and he curled it inches past the post.

It started a period where Braintree dominated possession and they almost took the lead again on 14 minutes when a clever back heel by Richardson freed Rob Harvey in the box and his shot on the turn crept just wide again.

However, there were still danger signs when Iron failed to clear their lines and one effort from the home side was fired over when Braintree keeper Michael Johnson really should have been tested.

Maldon saw more of the ball and the territorial advantage as the game approached the half-hour mark and Johnson had to make a good save low to his left when a cross from the right was turned towards the bottom corner.

However, play quickly switched to the other end and Braintree went even closer as Tom Murphy sent a deep cross to the back post and Jermaine Osei hit it on the volley only to see it clatter back off the woodwork.

It meant the first half ended goalless, although Johnson did have to make another strong save with his legs just before the break to ensure that was the case.

Braintree boss Driver made a number of changes at half-time, but it didn’t take long for his team to have the first sight of goal.

A lovely through ball from Alfie Cerulli unleashed Roman Michael-Percil, but his fierce shot was into the arms of the Jammers keeper.

Nice build-up play down the left then opened a chance for Sergio Manesio, but his effort flew over the home crossbar as the game remained without a goal.

As had been the case in the first half, not conceding in the opening exchanges allowed Maldon to settle and they came more into the game as they began to press higher up the pitch.

However, it was at the other end that the best of the chances kept being created, with Femi Akinwande heading the ball in only for the goal to be ruled out for offside and Michael-Percil fired straight at the home keeper after being put through one-on-one.

The goal did eventually come in the 73rd minute, though, and it was worth waiting for.

Adam Mills played a delightful ball down the left for Ollie Saunders to charge forward on to from his full-back position and he slid a perfectly-weight pass low across the Maldon area to where Akinwande slammed the ball in from a yard out.

It was the lead they wanted, but Braintree were unable to hold on to it for long as Maldon pulled level in the 83rd minute.

It came when Kyron Clements gave possession away in the Iron area while trying to play out from the back and as he tried to regain the ball, committed a foul that the referee punished with a penalty.

Despite Johnson diving the right way, the spot-kick was forcefully converted, however, parity didn’t last long as the Iron went back ahead just two minutes later.

Play moved to the other end and after some strong play by Akinwande out wide, the ball broke for Mills in the area and he reacted perfectly by drilling a right-footed shot into the back of the Jammers’ net.

It was another impressive Braintree strike and proved decisive this time as the visitors held on to their lead after a good workout ahead of a home game against King’s Lynn Town for their final pre-season action on Saturday.

Braintree Town: Michael Johnson, Harry Osbourne, Trey Charles, Jake Hutchings, Kyran Clements, Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Rob Harvey, Jason Banton, Tom Murphy, Tom Richardson, Jermaine Osei.

Substitutes: Alfie Cerulli, Ollie Saunders, Ade Cole, Jayden Gipson, Femi Akinwande, Adam Mills Roman Michael-Percil, Sergio Manesio.