BRAINTREE Town claimed a 2-1 win at Havant and Waterlooville to maintain their bid for a high promotion National League South play-off position, writes DAVID WARD.

It was not an entirely convincing display by the Iron at Westleigh Park but they came away with a vital victory, as they gear up for the play-offs.

Havant, who have already been relegated, gave the Iron a tough ride all afternoon, hitting the woodwork three times and creating goalscoring chances that could have seen a different outcome.

But two goals from Shaquille Coulthirst secured victory for boss Angelo Harrop, who admitted his side had not been at their best at times.

He said: “At this stage of the season, it’s the result that matters and getting us over the line was what it was all about.

Braintree and Witham Times:

“We knew this would be a particular pressure game for us because they had nothing to lose so it was a potential banana skin as the saying goes.

“We knew it would be hard and they made it difficult for us and even more so when we gave away a really sloppy goal for them to equalise but what character the players showed in coming straight back at them and getting that all-important winning goal.

“We have certainly learned a lot from this game and having conceded a goal the players responded in the right way and we again took the game to them and we scored that all-important second goal that saw us cross the line.

“It wasn't pretty at times and at times in the second half we rode our luck a little but again it’s finding the net that counts and we achieved that in this game thanks to a tremendous all round team effort.”

After a goal-less first half, both sides threw caution to the wind after the break in a bid to break the deadlock.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Braintree opened the scoring on 51 minutes when the ever-alert Coulthirst skipped through the Havant backline only to be crudely brought down by the home keeper to rightly earn a penalty.

Coulthirst rammed home the spot-kick to give the Iron the lead but it only last six minutes, after some sloppy defending allowed the hosts to equalise.

Shrewdly the Iron management changed some personnel including the arrival of experienced Freddie Sears and for the first time since joining the club, he showed what a class act he is by starting to control the Iron’s attack from midfield.

Sears set up Braintree’s crucial winning goal on 77 minutes when he delicately played the ball through to Coulthirst, who outpaced the home rearguard to drill the ball into the net for a fully deserved goal.

Braintree continued to threaten the home goal with Aaron Blair, Charlie Wakefield and Tom Blackwell all going so close.

And at the other end, Iron keeper Jack Sims made two crucial saves and when he was beaten by a home forward, the ball struck the foot of a post.

Coulthirst was also unlucky to see his shot rattle the bar and Blair was denied a goal by a brilliant save, as Braintree claimed victory.