A DEVASTATING blast of four goals in 16 minutes destroyed Braintree Town’s hopes of a morale-boosting win over near neighbours Chelmsford City in National League South, writes RON FOSKER.

Braintree went into half-time with a 2-0 lead and looking comfortable against a side who had lost their last six matches, but then the home side started to hit back and were not flattered by the final 4-2 scoreline.

At 1-2, Iron visibly lost their confidence. At 2-2, they lost their composure. At 3-2, they lost their discipline, their shape and the game.

After the new spirit engendered by manager Ryan Maxwell, this was a massive disappointment.

It might have been possible to write off the defeat at Billericay in midweek as a blip, brought about by an improvement in the hosts' play rather than a major fault-line developing in Braintree’s.

But this was something else.

It was a defeat almost entirely self-inflicted. Three of the four goals were the direct result of fouls given away needlessly in dangerous areas.

Chelmsford had pulled the score back to 2-1 with a poke-in by Charlie Sheringham from a corner when Danny Imray was brought down by Sam Robbins five metres or so outside the penalty area. Tom Wraight took aim and fired in a pinpoint-placed free-kick reminiscent of his days in a Witham Town shirt.

Three minutes later a free-kick for a Matt Johnson foul on Imray was floated in to find ex-Iron Cameron James at the far post.

Eight minutes later the rout was complete. The impressive Imray was again brought down, this time by Nathan Smith and this time in the penalty area. Adam Morgan stepped up to send Patrick Ohman the wrong way.

It was all so different from the first half.

After a lively opening, Iron had looked the most likely to score and did so in the 18th minute when two shots from a corner were blocked before Taofiq Olomowewe got the final touch to ripple the netting.

The only goal of the six not to come from a set piece was the result of strong pressing by a number of Braintree players that eventually led to the ball being fed through to Tom Derry, who advanced into the penalty area and fired into the far corner.

Strong pressing had been a feature of the first-half display. Iron were quick to snap at the heels of any City player in possession and refused to allow them to settle.

But what in the first half had been legally robust turned in the second period to indiscipline.

Player after player over-committed themselves, nudged their opponents in the back or launched into tackles they had little chance of winning – eventually with the almost inevitable results.

It was unedifying stuff. Quite where they go from here is uncertain, but they won’t climb off the bottom of the table with displays like this.

Braintree: Patrick Ohman; Marcus Johnson-Shuster, Taofiq Olomowewe, Sam Robbins, Nathan Smith; Johnville Renee (Ken Charles 75), Percy Kiangbeni, Matt Johnson, Danny Bassett (Luke Holness 61), Correy Davidson (Arjan Krasniqi 73); Tom Derry.