Vanarama National League South

A goal on his debut was a perfect way for Dan Thompson to introduce himself to life at Braintree Town.

And the fact that his strike delivered a first Vanarama National League South win after a six-game wait for his new employers made it even sweeter for the former Tonbridge Angels man.

On a bitterly cold day, the Iron returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory against Poole Town.

While it may not have been Braintree’s most fluent performance of the season, in a sub-zero wind and on a heavy pitch, it was a result that would have provided some very welcome warmth to the home fans.

There were five changes for the Iron from the side that started their 2-1 defeat at Bognor Regis Town seven days before.

One notable inclusion was a first start for striker Thompson after he had signed for the Iron the day before, while Mahrez Bettache, Ricky Gabriel, Christian Frimpong and Roman Michael-Percil all made returns.

Stepping out of the Braintree side were Ipswich Town loanee Patrick Webber, who was injured and Iron captain Marc-Anthony Okoye, who was suspended after picking up a tenth booking of the season at Bognor.

There were also places on the bench for Marcel Barrington, Reece Grant and Conor McKendry after all three had started the week before.

The Iron knew they needed a better start than they had had in recent games and their new-look attack looked to get on the front foot early.

They almost unlocked the Poole defence when Ben Wyatt strode forward from midfield and unleashed a low driven shot that required a good block to keep it out.

However, Poole also tried to press forward in an even opening.

On seven minutes, poor communication at the back from Iron saw the visitors win a corner and after the initial ball in wasn’t cleared, James Constable volleyed in an effort that home keeper Nathan McDonald was forced to tip over the bar.

The Iron keeper also came to the rescue on 18 minutes in even more spectacular fashion.

It came as Poole’s Marvin Brooks glanced a header towards goal from a deep cross and McDonald saved with his legs.

The danger wasn’t clear, though and just as Constable was looking to ram home the loose ball, Gabriel intervened and just got the ball away to safety in the nick of time.

It was then Poole keeper Nick Hutchings’ turn to make a save.

On 22 minutes, the ball was worked out wide on the Braintree left and a cross from Ben Wyatt was placed on to the head of Thompson but it was placed close enough to Hutchings for him to tip it over.

There was no mistake when the same Braintree combination linked up on 31 minutes, though.

A clever floated ball by Wyatt into the centre of the goal mouth was met again by Thompson and this time, he found the target to open his Iron account with a strike on his debut.

It was a relief for the hosts to take the lead, but they were living dangerously at the other end as Poole posed a big attacking threat.

Constable fired wide under pressure from Josh Hill, before a corner for Poole was headed on by Corby Moore and had to be saved by McDonald.

The resulting corner then saw the ball played out to Jamie Whisken, who got a fierce shot away but one of his own players blocked it on the line.

A free-kick by Steve Devlin was then whipped into the Iron area, sailing over a sea of heads before clattering off the post and away and Hill had to make an excellent last-ditch block from another driven effort by Constable.

So it was with some relief for the hosts that the half-time whistle came with them holding on to their one-goal lead.

The second half started with both teams evenly matched as Braintree searched for a two-goal lead and Poole for a way back into the action.

The visitors had a sight on 62 minutes when they broke forward and Mo Baghdadi fired in a shot that was straight at McDonald, but it was a rare chance as play became scrappy from both sides.

Neither could really gain a dominance in terms of possession or territory, although it was Poole who were perhaps the more adventurous of the two.

They were unable to fashion much in the way of goal threats as the clock wound down, though, and the home side looked more and more comfortable as the final whistle approached.

They were able to see the game out and hold on to their slender advantage and while it wasn’t a vintage performance, that was not of great concern to them at the end.

Braintree Town: Nathan McDonald, Mahrez Bettache, Ricky Gabriel, Josh Hill, Christian Frimpong, Jon Muleba, Luke Allen, Billy Crook (Conor McKendry 82), Roman Michael-Percil (Marcel Barrington 69), Dan Thompson (Reece Grant 79), Ben Wyatt.

Subs not used: Jack Curtis, Danny Nesbitt.

Referee: Will Finnie.