Vanarama National League South

There was little to split Braintree Town and Truro City in the Vanarama National League South table ahead of their clash and it proved a similar case on the pitch.

Braintree stood second and Truro third in the standings at kick-off and the promotion rivals had to both settle for a point at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium as they held each other to a 1-1 draw.

The visitors’ relied on a horrendous defensive error for their goal in the first half, while Roman Michael-Percil scored the Iron’s equaliser just after the break, but there was nothing to split the pair in a tense final period.

Braintree made three changes from the side that started the 1-0 defeat by Weston Super Mare on Saturday.

Coming in were Ricky Gabriel, Roman Michael-Percil and Marcel Barrington, who made his first start for the Iron, while Samir Bihmoutine, Karl Oliyide and Dernell Wynter all dropped to the bench.

There was also a change in formation for the hosts.

Rather than have three central defenders, they reverted to a flat back four of Mahrez Bettache, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Joe Ellul and Ricky Gabriel with Christian Frimpong pushed up into the midfield as a screening player in front of them.

It was a similar role to that played so effectively by Matt Paine when he was at the club in years gone by.

It also proved effective in the opening stages of this game as Truro were unable to challenge the Braintree defence too much and it was the hosts who had more attacking intent.

They were unable to craft too much in the way of clear-cut chances, but Phil Roberts fired a free-kick just wide of the post and another free-kick from an almost identical spot was headed over by Gabriel.

While Braintree had more of the possession, though, there was little between the two teams as the game settled down.

It was perhaps to be expected from two sides sat second and third in the National League South table and neither of the goalkeepers were unduly troubled in the opening half an hour.

That changed in the 36th minute, though, when Braintree gift wrapped and served up an opening goal for the visitors.

They were trying to pass it around at the back with attacking players in close company and when a pass went astray, there was Cody Cooke waiting to take advantage and tuck the ball under a totally exposed Nathan McDonald.

It was the visitors’ only real effort on goal during the first half, but it was a telling one that saw them leading at half-time and the Iron knew they had work to do after the break.

So it was encouraging from a home perspective that they started on the front foot.

Bettache drilled in a decent effort that McHale had to get down well to save low down and the Truro keeper handled well in taking a hanging cross by Gabriel.

The hosts didn’t have to wait long to get back on level terms, though.

In the 49th minute, a surging run by Roberts saw him work space on the right, before cutting the ball across to where Michael-Percil was waiting to tuck it into the Truro net.

It was a great response after the first-half disappointment, but Braintree almost found themselves behind again just minutes later.

After the Iron defence failed to clear their lines, Arron Lamont fired in a low effort that beat McDonald but Gabriel was perfectly placed to make a goalline clearance and maintain the status quo.

However, after the flurry of activity at the start of the half, the game tightened up again as both sides struggled to impose themselves to take control of the fixture.

Truro pressed the Iron back more as the half wore on though and almost went ahead again when a free-kick into the home area wasn’t cleared and Gabriel was on hand again to stop a shot going in.

With neither side able to edge ahead, it led to tense final period as both tried to get the winner, but in the end both had to settle for a share of the spoils that kept Braintree sat second in the division.

Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Mahrez Bettache, Ricky Gabriel, Joe Ellul, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Christian Frimpong (Samir Bihmoutine 59), Roman Michael-Percil (Karl Oliyide 81), Billy Crook, Phil Roberts (Dernell Wynter 71), Marcel Barrington, Ben Wyatt.

Subs not used: Osa Obamwonyi, Matt Baxter.

Referee: Josh Smith.