IT is a cruel irony that anyone searching for a link to watch Braintree Town’s match at Eastbourne Borough online on Saturday was first offered the chance to watch an earlier encounter between the two sides – the first round FA Cup match in November 2016, writes RON FOSKER.

It was a match Braintree won 7-0. The contrast with their latest encounter could not have been more stark.

This time Iron lost 4-0 but their opponents would not have been flattered if they had reversed the score of four years earlier.

After the improvements shown in their last two games, this was a disappointment of the first magnitude.

Basic first principles, the lessons they had learned from those two matches, were cast aside as they presented their hosts with opportunity after opportunity.

The home side could scarcely believe their luck as holes as large as the Channel Tunnel opened up before them.

In only the second minute captain Charlie Walker received the ball in the centre forward position about 30 metres from the goal without a defender in shouting distance. He had time to look round to see where they might have gone before losing his composure and shooting wide.

The let-off failed to provoke a response and in the next ten minutes alone there were no fewer than four more occasions when a forward found himself beyond the defence.

Poor control, a missed cross and an offside flag saved Braintree but no reorganisation resulted.

Instead they resembled King Canute, powerless to stop the waves of attacks from engulfing them.

The major surprise was that it took them until the 35th minutes to score.

This time it was Dean Cox’s turn to be left alone in the box, where he had time to control and turn before firing into the net.

Braintree had a chance of their own in the first five minutes when Jordan Chiedozie latched on to a Matt Johnson throw to turn and shoot but his effort passed wide of the post.

Apart from a weak and wide effort from Rohdell Gordon, Iron’s only other attempt of the half came from 17-year-old Bradley Rolt, who had been given his first start. He picked the ball up from a corner and fired in a strong shot that appeared to be heading goalwards until Franco Ravizzoli dived full-length to his left to bring off an excellent save.

Early in the second half, Duane Ofori-Acheampong, signed during the week, just failed to get on the end of a cross from Gordon.

That was the last time Ravizzoli had anything to disturb his afternoon.

At the other end Preston Edwards was called into action to save from Walker and then dived at Cox’s feet when he had broken through the defence again.

When a long ball caught the back line out, Edwards came to the rescue again, saving Joel Rollinson’s effort.

It couldn’t last. And it didn’t.

Again the only surprise was that it took Eastbourne so long, 76 minutes into the match, before they added to their score, Walker escaping his markers from a free kick to head in from close range.

Goals from Charley Kendall and a second from Walker in the last two minutes of normal time gave the scoreline a more realistic look.

Manager George Borg made three changes from the team that had given St Albans a tough fight the previous Tuesday, Ofori-Acheampong for Romario Dunne, Rolt for Louis Yamfam and Olumide Oluwatimilehin for Arjan Kresniqi.

After two matches and two improved displays with an unchanged side, apart from the goalkeeper, it is unclear why Borg, back on the touchline after his two-match ban, decided changes were needed.

The addition of the 6ft 4ins Ofori-Acheampong was presumably intended to give the wide men a target to aim at – which might have worked if anyone had sent in some crosses.

Borg will be asking himself where he goes from here. Or how his side went from there to here – from two promising displays to one of miserable proportions.

Time is running out to find the answers.

Braintree: Preston Edwards; Jamie Fielding, George Allen (Louis Yamfam 65), Kyran Clements, Johnville Renee; Bradley Rolt, Olumide Oluwatimilehin, Matt Johnson, Rohdell Gordon (Arjan Kresniqi 60), Jordan Chiedozie (Liam Smyth 78); Duane Ofori-Acheampong.