Vanarama National League South

Despite a superb start, two former players came back to haunt Braintree Town to make sure the Iron weren’t able to continue their Vanarama National League South winning run at Dartford.

The last time Braintree had travelled to the Kent side had been a glorious afternoon in the National League South play-offs two years ago.

On that day, a Billy Crook goal earned the Iron a win in the sunshine and a place in the play-off final, but there was no repeat show on another hot day this time.

They did take the lead early and saw Michael Johnson keep out a penalty, but were pegged back before half-time and, after being reduced to ten men after a 70th minute red card, succumbed to a late strike in a 2-1 defeat.

There was just one change for the Iron from the side that had started the 5-0 win against Eastbourne Borough seven days before, with full-back Harry Osbourne making his first Braintree start as Josh Urquhart was not involved.

They came into the game with confidence having kept clean sheets and scored eight goals in back-to-back wins from their previous two outings and it looked as though that would be continued in the early play at Princes Park.

Just three minutes were on the clock when the Dartford defence was opened by Braintree’s attacking play and Femi Akinwande cut in from the right before drilling in a shot that went into the home goal off the post.

It was a third goal in as many games for the former Colchester United striker and showed the level of Braintree’s confidence, however, they were crucially unable to build on their lead.

Instead, Dartford found their feet and started to come into the game as they built pressure on the Braintree goal.

A few efforts were off target, but they looked to have got their reward for being positive on the half-hour mark when they were awarded a penalty for a handball in the box.

However, the hosts’ frustration continued as Iron keeper Johnson dived to his left to keep out the spot-kick from Luke Wanadio.

Any joy for the visitors was reasonably short-lived, though, as Braintree were unable to carry their lead into half-time.

It was former Iron midfielder Luke Allen who pulled the Darts level when he slotted home from a long throw into the area by Alex Flisher on 42 minutes to make it level at the break.

Dartford looked to continue their pressing after the restart, but the hosts were unable to build on their lead as it stayed level pegging between the two.

But the odds were tipped in the home side’s favour in the 70th minute when Braintree’s Adam Mills was dismissed for violent conduct.

His team-mates knew they would have to battle in the searing temperatures for the final 20 minutes with a man disadvantage and, despite a couple of close calls, it looked as though they may have seen it through.

However, another former Braintree player came back to haunt his old club as Dartford snatched a winner in the 88th minute.

Iron hearts were broken by Norman Wabo, who headed in from an excellent cross by Ryan Hayes to make sure Dartford recorded their first win of the season.

Braintree, meanwhile, were forced to head back up to Essex empty handed and they will be looking for a better return when they host Dorking Wanderers at Cressing Road on Bank Holiday Monday.

Braintree Town: Michael Johnson, Harry Osbourne, Ollie Saunders, Sergio Manesio (Sean Bonnett-Johnson 67), Jake Hutchings, Michael Clark, Ade Cole, Jason Banton (Rob Harvey 75), Tom Richardson (Alfie Cerulli 86), Femi Akinwande, Adam Mills.

Subs not used: Jayden Gipson, Charley Barker.