BRAINTREE Town’s mini-run – a draw, a win and a match abandoned while they were leading – came to a shuddering halt on Saturday when they were comprehensively beaten by a far superior Havant and Waterlooville side, writes RON FOSKER.

Havant, stronger, faster and more skilful across the park, won 2-0 but missed several hatfuls of chances that could have made the National League South game safe long before their second goal did that in the 77th minute.

They were resistant to Braintree’s typical opening tigerishness, relaxedly playing their way round the home side’s traditional press until it lost its sting and they could play their own game.

Iron deserve credit for holding on as long as they did. They survived until the 42nd minute when a cleverly worked move ended with a classy strike from Tommy Wright.

They continued to battle against the odds in the second period until Wright put them out of their misery, pinching the ball off Marcus Johnson-Schuster and driving for goal before unleashing a shot that give Billy Johnson little chance.

In the first 40 minutes Havant sent a free kick through a crowded goalmouth without getting a touch, James Roberts hit the outside of a post, Johnson brought off a good save to deny Abdulai Baggie, and a long run by Wright ended with Joe Newton shooting just wide.

Braintree’s best chances came at the beginning and end of the half. Early on, Johnson-Schuster intercepted a forward pass but when the ball found its way to Khale Da Costa in a good position in the penalty area he took too long to gain control and the moment passed.

And one of the last acts of the first half produced just about the only time that keeper Will Mannion was in any way troubled – and it was telling that it was one of his own defenders who caused him problems, the ball skimming off a head awkwardly requiring Mannion to tip the ball over the bar from close range.

The second half carried on much as the first.

Jake McCarthy had a free kick tipped over, Roberts’ rob, run and shot was pushed round the post and then McCarthy had a header deflected by a defender’s boot. Another McCarthy shot missed by inches and Roberts put a shot into the side netting.

It was a master class in pinpoint passing, clever positional play and constant drive. If they had been able to add accuracy to the mix, the score could have been embarrassing.

Iron will not face teams as strong as Havant, now up to sixth, every week and they must hope they can rediscover the flair they brought to the abandoned match at Hampton and Richmond when they return to league action next month.

Before that they have an FA Trophy match against Potters Bar, a team in the lower half of the Isthmian Premier Division. One needs only to mention the names of Enfield, Yate, Salisbury, Stourbridge and various others in recent years to know the significance of that.

Braintree: Billy Johnson; Marcus Johnson-Schuster, Nathan Bertram-Cooper (Luke Holness 73), Luke Pennell, Kyran Clements, Jay Porter (Correy Davidson 59); Matt Johnson, Alfie Payne, Arjan Krasniqi; Khale Da Costa, Tom Derry (Femi Akinwande 65).