Vanarama National League South First half goals hurt Braintree Town again as the Iron were left without a win in six games after a 2-1 defeat at Bognor Regis Town.

Despite Bognor sitting in the bottom three, Braintree were unable to turn their form around as they continued to search for a way to reignite their Vanarama National League South play-off push.

It had been almost three months to the day since the Rocks had last won a Vanarama National League South game and the Iron had won the encounter at the IronmongeryDirect Stadium 3-1 in early November.

However, Braintree, who were looking to end a five-game winless run, quickly found themselves on the back foot.

Bognor hadn’t scored a league goal in front of their home fans since before Christmas, but the opening goal for the hosts came against the Iron with just three minutes on the clock.

It was exactly the opposite of what Braintree wanted as they looked to breathe new life into a play-off push that had been stuttering in recent weeks.

However, worse was to come with a second goal being conceded before half-time as they trailed 2-0 at the break – just as they had in a loss against Bath City seven days before.

And although Billy Crook fired in a goal to halve the deficit in the second period, there was no way back for the Iron.

There had been three changes for Braintree from the side that had lost 2-0 at home against Bath City.

One of those changes was enforced by the exit of striker Phil Roberts to join Chelmsford City the day before, while Christian Frimpong and Roman Michael-Percil dropped to the bench.

Coming back into the side was Crook, who had recovered from the illness that kept him out against Bath and Marcel Barrington returned to the starting line-up.

There was also a first start for young Ipswich Town loanee Conor McKendry.

But while the side had a new look to it, there was a frustratingly similar ring to the way the game started for the Iron.

It had been a disappointing display against Bath and Bognor came into the game having not won in the league since the middle of November.

However, the hosts took the lead with just three minutes on the clock.

The goal came as the Iron defence was unable to clear its lines and the ball was bundled into the net from close range by Richard Gilot.

It was exactly the start that Braintree didn’t want and Nathan McDonald had to be alert to danger again on 13 minutes when Keaton Wood sent in a looping shot to make sure it only stayed at a single goal deficit.

Braintree knew they would have to respond to the early setback and started to look more threatening at the other end of the pitch.

On 20 minutes, Josh Hill sent a lob over the top of Bognor’s back line that was chased down by Crook, but he was unable to get any force into his shot and the score stayed at 1-0.

Just a minute later, though, with Braintree continuing to press, they went close again when Barrington forced an error and delivered the ball to McKendry, who fired in a good effort but saw it saved by Rocks keeper Dan Lincoln.

Lincoln then had to be on form on 31 minutes when Reece Grant raced clear from a ball forward by Hill but his shot was kept out by the home keeper as the Iron stayed frustrated.

That feeling was intensified on 40 minutes when, for the second week running, they found themselves trailing by two goals.

The second for the Rocks came when Oliver Pearce raced on to a ball forward and lobbed the advancing McDonald to leave Braintree with a huge task ahead in the second half.

That task almost became even greater when Pearce got clear through on goal just after the restart, but a raised offside flag was a welcome sight for the visitors.

McDonald then had to make a great save to keep out an effort from Harvey Whyte as the visitors continued to live dangerously.

They did give themselves a lifeline, though, with a goal on 64 minutes.

It came when Jon Muleba played a neat pass to Crook, who turned and coolly curled the ball into the bottom corner.

It was the foothold that Braintree were craving and they pushed for an equaliser, with Michael-Percil seeing a shot saved, before Muleba tried a curling effort that was just off target.

However, they couldn’t force a second goal and, while they stayed eighth in the table, were left to reflect on a sixth game without a three-point haul.

Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Jon Muleba, Patrick Webber, Josh Hill, Marc-Anthony Okoye, Ben Wyatt, Luke Allen (Matt Baxter 79), Billy Crook, Marcel Barrington, Reece Grant (Roman Michael-Percil 61), Conor McKendry (Jack Curtis 87).

Subs not used: Christian Frimpong, Mahrez Bettache.

Referee: David Spain.