BRAINTREE Town suffered penalty anguish after losing their FA Trophy third-round tie at St Albans City on spot-kicks, writes DAVID WARD.

Ten-man Iron fought a tremendous defensive performance at Clarence Park only to finally go out 6-5 in a shootout, after the tie had finished 0-0.

It was certainly a courageous display by the Iron, already hit with injuries before the kick-off forcing manager Ryan Maxwell to name two of the club's under-18s on the substitute's bench.

They were denied a blatant penalty in the second of four minutes of added-on time by referee Ben Atkinson, who it must be said gave a somewhat inconsistent performance all afternoon.

The Iron, who had injuries to four key players and gave a starting role to the inexperienced young Chaynie Burgin who recently signed from Woodford Town, knew it would be a tough game against a promotion-chasing home side.

Braintree's cause was badly dented on 15 minutes when right-back Marcus Johnson-Schuster was rightly shown a straight red card for an horrendous over-the-top tackle on Huw Dawson forcing the 18 year-old to go straight to the local hospital.

There can be no excuses for Johnson-Schuster's tackle which referee Atkinson correctly didn't hesitate in sending him off but it left the Iron with a mountain to climb.

But full marks to every one of the Iron's ten players left on the pitch because they all worked their socks off.

They scrapped for every ball, committing themselves fully to the cause in a never-say-die attitude, putting in last-ditch tackles to foil the home side who became increasingly frustrated at having so much of the ball.

The hosts were unable to find a way through the Iron's doughty final line of defence, where both Kyran Clemenets and Nathan Cooper were outstanding along with keeper Billy Johnson.

All the other outfield players played their part too, repeatedly denying St Albans any clearcut goalscoring chances and only once in each half did they have a efforts on the Iron goal causing serious problems.

At the other end, Gianni Crichlow almost broke the deadlock just before half-time when he beat his man, cut inside from the right byline only to see his effort narrowly miss the target.

After suffering a bit of an onslaught from the home side in the first half, it was a different story in the second half.

Braintree seemed to gain more confidence in going forward and were for long spells the better side, whilst still defending in depth when it was needed.

The introduction of substitutes Adam Morgan and Harry Hope gave the Iron fresh impetus and while the hosts still had the majority of possession, they were repeatedly foiled by a determined rearguard performance from the visitors, one of the best seen from an Iron side for a long time.

The Iron could have snatched a win late on when they should have been given a penalty with a clear handball from a home defender.

But with no extra-time scheduled it went to penalties and despite a valiant effort, Braintree lost on penalties and St Albans progressed to the next round.

At least the Iron fans in the 702 crowd can take comfort from such a sterling and hard-working performance from their team.