THE good news for Braintree Town is that they are still in the FA Cup after their 1-1 draw at Canvey Island on Saturday, writes RON FOSKER.

The bad news is that they don’t deserve to be.

The home side, a division below Braintree, had lost all six league matches this season and yet for much of the match they played their visitors off the park, in this second qualifying round tie.

In the first hour, it was they who had all the ideas, all the push and all the chances.

Charlie Edwards and Bradley Sach broke through the porous Iron defence early on but lacked a finish and then the impressive Evans Kouassi, who threatened whenever he got the ball, also bypassed the back line but put his effort wide.

Other efforts met similar fates until it appeared that for all their pressure they would be heading in for the interval still goalless.

But then a looping free kick totally flummoxed the visiting defence, leaving Mason Hall with a free header at the back post, which he didn’t waste.

Sneaking up on the blind side to score is a weapon in Kyran Clements’ armoury and it was presumably that that persuaded manager Angelo Harrop to try him as a striker when Will Davies became unavailable.

It didn’t work and he was withdrawn after an hour for the second surprise of the day, the return of Dan Sparkes, last seen in a Braintree shirt seven years ago.

Sparkes had nothing to do with it, but Iron’s equaliser came only a couple of minutes after he came on.

Canvey had continued their bombardment in the opening quarter hour of the second half when Jack Sims was called into action to tip an Elliot Ronto shot over the bar and a Hall header round the post.

But out of the blue, Braintree were level.

George Quantrell picked up the ball on the left, worked his way inside and unleashed a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

It didn’t seem to have either the pace or the direction to trouble keeper Sam Jackson but he was slow to get down to it and it rattled the back of the net.

It was the signal for Iron to step up their game and they began to look a little bit more like a team from a higher division.

A neat move involving Sparkes and Tom Blackwell ended with Jackson saving Aaron Blair’s shot with his feet and then both Blair and Alfie Payne fired over the bar after promising moves.

A Blackwell cross went straight across the goalmouth without anyone getting a touch, Sparkes saw a shot go wide and sub Arnold Matshazi put the ball over the bar from a left wing cross.

Canvey almost stole it in added time when Sims again had to be at his best to tip over a shot from Luke Deslandes but Iron had done enough and will hope that some semblance of form returns for Tuesday’s replay.

Braintree: Jack Sims; Ben Mason, Ben Tompkins, Joe Grimwood, Matt Carson; George Quantrell, Alfie Payne, Ben Watt (Leon Davies 39), Tom Blackwell; Aaron Blair (Arnold Matshazi 90), Kyran Clements (Dan Sparkes 59).