Vanarama National League South

It was far from a convincing win, but Braintree Town got the result they wanted to bounce back from an FA Cup disappointment as they beat Oxford City 1-0 at Cressing Road.

Having been woefully under par in getting beaten by Enfield Town in the FA Cup the week before, Braintree knew a three-point haul was vital on their return to Vanarama National League South action.

So they were grateful that Ade Cole’s first half penalty proved the difference between the two sides.

They weren’t at their dominant best on the day and frequently lived dangerously, but they did hold on to their lead to record a fourth consecutive home victory.

There was just one change from the Braintree side that had started the 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Enfield Town seven days earlier.

That saw Tyler Christian-Law returning to the line-up as Harry Donovan dropped to the bench where he was joined by new midfield signing Rhys Murrell Williamson, who had come in during the week from St Albans City.

With the game played in extremely windy conditions, it took a while for it to settle down and neither goalkeeper was unduly tested in the opening stages.

It was Braintree who had the better of any early possession, with some lovely play down the left from Cameron Green, Ade Cole and Adam Mills.

However, final balls into the danger area weren’t clinical enough and, having seen off the initial home push, Oxford started to get forward more and the game opened up.

Jack Self had their first sight of goal when he curled an effort into the arms of Iron keeper Michael Johnson, who suddenly started to see plenty of action.

On 14 minutes, Nana Owusu played the ball in to Kyran Willshire, who turned in the box and got away a low shot that Johnson did well to get down to and keep out, before Reece Beckles Richards fired well over from a good position.

After the edginess of the opening 15 minutes, play stayed very open as the half wore on and there were chances at both ends.

First a Femi Akinwande cross into the six-yard box found the head of Mills, but his effort lacked power and was straight at City keeper Harry Isted.

Then play switched immediately to the other end where Owusu got into a good position and hit a fierce shot that Johnson showed great strength in palming away to keep it goalless.

It was a great stop from the Iron keeper and that was made to count double on 34 minutes when, rather than being behind, Braintree took the lead.

Some superb play from Cole on the right saw him singlehandedly win a corner and when it was swung in by Mills, striker Tom Richardson was bundled over in the box and referee Callum Walchester had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Cole stepped up and finished what he had started by sending Isted the wrong way and drilling the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead to the hosts.

It was an advantage they held on to until half-time, although they had to hold off some late pressure from City, who showed a good response to falling behind.

They continued that after the break and it took a great block from Christian-Law to keep Iron ahead in the first few minutes after the restart, while Owusu hooked a shot over the bar from close range from a free-kick on 55 minutes.

The visitors remained on the front foot as Braintree struggled to gain any meaningful possession and were sucked back into defending on the edge of their own penalty area for lengthy spells.

Despite being pushed back, though, they stayed disciplined in their defensive shape and repelled the threats.

But they needed to take advantage of any chances they created at the other end, so were frustrated when a gilt-edged opportunity arose on 66 minutes.

Banton and Green worked the ball beautifully down the left and it was cut back into the middle, but Christian-Law’s shot was deflected wide with the open goal gaping.

It meant the game stayed tight and the pattern of play remained with Iron defending well as Oxford looked to find a levelling goal, but there was no way through for the visitors as Iron made it four wins in a row on home turf.

Braintree Town: Michael Johnson, Harry Osbourne, Cameron Green, Tyler Christian-Law, Josh Urquhart, Jake Hutchings, Femi Akinwande (Rhys Murrell Williamson 61), Ade Cole (Charley Barker 75), Tom Richardson, Jason Banton (Alfie Cerulli 71), Adam Mills.

Subs not used: Tobi Coker, Harry Donovan.

Referee: Callum Walchester.