BRAINTREE Town pulled off one of the shocks of the National League South season by beating current leaders Dartford in an absorbing if at times feisty encounter at Cressing Road, writes DAVID WARD.

And there was no fluke about the outcome either because the Iron put on their best performance of the current campaign to overcome their Kent neighbours in an action-packed game that saw four yellow cards for each side and a straight red card for the visitors in the dying moments.

The Iron included two on-loan signings from Bishop’s Stortford – defender Ryan Henshaw and midfielder Jack Thomas – plus three newcomers on the bench in the shape of Reece Prestedge (Margate), Francis Amartey (Hayes & Yeading) and striker Adam Yusuf (Cray Valley) and the reshaped side certainly looked stronger and played with more cohesion than the team has of late.

In a fast, attacking approach from both sides there were several good goal scoring chances at either end and it was only surprising that the first half saw just one goal – a smart, low, right-footed shot from Percy Kyangebeni from just inside the area on 29 minutes to give the Iron the lead at the interval.

The second half was just as frenetic with both sides trying to outdo each other and swift, counter-attacking moves that saw both goalkeepers being kept busy and some desperate defending at both end with chances going begging.

The Iron needed a second goal to give them a little breathing space and it came on 62 minutes courtesy of a right-wing free-kick from Correy Davidson.

The diminutive winger whipped in a low, hard ball into the near post where defender Taofiq Olomowewe, the Iron’s outstanding player on the day, somehow managed to squeeze it into the net from close range.

This gave the Iron even more confidence to continue to push forward and twice Johnville Renee ran clear and looked set to score only to be denied by a back-pedalling visitors’ defence while up the other end some stout defending by Olomowewe and Henshaw in particularly continually thwarted the visitors while Iron keeper Samuel Johnson pulled off three saves to keep his side in the lead.

Nine minutes from time the visitors were reduced to ten men when full-back Jazzi Barnum-Bobb was shown a straight red card as the last man for bringing down Renee en route to goal.

The home defence though was finally breached four minutes from time when they conceded a penalty which the Darts’ substitute Chris Dickson slotted home.

In a hectic final few minutes which included eight minutes of added stoppage time the visitors pushed hard for an equaliser while on the counter-attack twice Renee broke clear and should have scored but he stumbled in the final yards and the ball was cleared.

The Iron deservedly held on to win after their three successive defeats.

And with better players now in situ and the whole side galvanised into playing far more cohesive football and more united as a solid team this win, which lifted Iron off the bottom of the league bodes well for the coming games.

Braintree Town: Johnson; Robbins, Smith, Olomowewe, Henshaw; Renee, Thomas, Kyangebeni (90 Prestedge), Johnson; Davidson, Derry (75 Yusuf). Unused subs: Charles, Amartey, Johnson-Schuster.

Referee: Paul Johnson.

Next up for the Iron is another game behind closed doors at Cressing Road on Tuesday against another high-riding side, Oxford City, kick-off 7.45pm.