FIVE games, five defeats – four of them at home. And after Billericay’s win at Hemel Hempstead in midweek, Braintree’s 2-1 defeat by Hungerford Town means they are now the only team in the National League South without a point, writes RON FOSKER.

But this was a step up from their last two performances. Are there green shoots of recovery – or are they just an orange mirage?

They were, after all, playing a strong team: this win took Hungerford to the top of the table.

Yet they were never allowed to stamp their superiority on a game home side who had as much of the play and had largely shaken off the defensive frailty that characterised their 4-3 defeat by Hemel the previous week.

Instead of allowing chasms of space at the back, this time they conceded from a fluke own goal and a needlessly conceded penalty.

Some of the credit for that must go to new centre back George Allen, signed in the week from Aveley, who offered more solidity at the back than previous incumbents.

There were definite improvements but the old failings have not gone away.

Luke Hopper’s opening goal may have been a fluke but questions should be asked why he was allowed to run in unmarked behind the defence from a goalkeeper’s simple punt upfield.

His shot from an angle would almost certainly have been gathered safely by Adam Przybek but it looped up off a defender’s boot over his head into the far corner of the net.

The goal came in the final minute of the first half, just as Dorking’s first goal had two matches ago.

Add in Hemel’s three-goal blast last week and Braintree have conceded five goals in three matches in the dying minutes of the first period.

Iron thought they had equalised early in the second half when a cross from Louis Yamfam was rifled in by Matt Johnson but, in a rerun of the previous match, the assistant referee flagged to indicate that the ball had crossed the byline before the cross.

Hungerford’s second came midway through the second half when Johnville Renee, making his first start of the season, got his body shape wrong while defending a corner and used his hand to stop the ball. Referee John Richardson pointed immediately to the spot and there were no complaints from the home side.

Hopper stepped up to claim his second goal of the game.

The goal came at a time when Iron were having most of the ball but lacked decisiveness near goal where moves often petered out.

Commendably they returned to the attack after conceding and Renee, clearly hoping to atone for his misdemeanour, worked his way into a shooting position but put his shot straight at keeper Luke Cairney.

Then out of the blue, they did get a goal back.

Jordan Chiedozie, also in the starting line-up for the first time this season, sent in a shot from well outside the box that appeared to have little power but somehow eluded Cairney to nestle in the corner.

It came with only four minutes plus stoppage time left and Hungerford quietly saw out the game out.

Braintree: Adam Przybek; Jamie Fielding (George Forrest 89), George Allen, Kyran Clements, Johnville Renee; Jordan Chiedozie, Rohdell Gordon, Matt Johnson, Arjan Kresniqi (Olumide Oluwatimilehin 80), Louis Yamfam; Romario Dunne (Liam Smyth 71).