September 7, 2014
(Away fans beginning to congregate on the terrace behind the goal)
Braintree Town once again showed they have no respect for reputations and former glories.
Just like the likes of Mansfield, Luton, and Grimsby had before them, Bristol Rovers became the latest former Football League club to come to the Amlin Stadium and leave with nothing.
A Kenny Davis penalty in the first half and Dan Sparkes’ exquisite finish after the break saw the Iron claim their third Vanarama Conference Premier 2-0 win in a row.
In front of Braintree’s biggest crowd of the season so far – 1,621 – they turned on the style against a side that were playing in League Two last year and will have impressed any floating supporters who may want to come back for more in the future.
(Braintree players ready to shake hands)
Braintree boss Alan Devonshire made just one change from the side that had beaten Alfreton the week before as Simeon Akinola came in for his first start in place of Dan Walker as Devonshire kept rotating his striking options.
The continuity in their line-up was evident as Braintree looked composed in possession and had the first sight of goal in the eighth minute after Jordan Cox was fouled on the edge of the box.
Dan Sparkes stepped up and curled great free-kick just past the post, however, it wasn’t long before play switched to the other end in a very open game of football.
A 14th minute corner found the flying head of Adam Cunnington and, as the ball sped towards the goal, Nick Hamann made a spectacular diving save to his left.
(The match officials decide to hold a conference before making a key decision)
The key thing for Braintree, though, was that they continued passing the ball around well and looked dangerous when they got it out wide and made some decent deliveries into the box.
And it was from a cross that the opening goal came in the 31st minute.
A cross by Sam Habergham from the left was collected by Rovers keeper Steve Mildenhall, but referee Daniel Cook deemed Jordan Cox had been fouled by a defender as the ball came in.
That decision led to an unsightly melee as the Bristol players let their feelings be known, but the initial decision stood and Kenny Davis stepped forward to slam the penalty home for a 1-0 lead.
If Rovers were fired up by that, things weren’t helped when they thought they had equalised, but Tom Parkes had put the ball into the net from an off-side position.
Rovers did keep pressing and the Iron had to ride their luck at times, but it stayed 1-0 at the break.
There was almost a second goal for the hosts just after the restart, though.
(The home fans enjoy their triumph over the big boys in town)
It was a beautiful move by Braintree as the ball was won by Davis in midfield, he moved in quickly on to Cox, who passed it wide to Sparkes and from his early cross, Akinola’s header was flicked just wide.
Braintree needed to take the sting out of any Rovers hopes of getting back into the game and they did just that in spectacular fashion in the 59th minute.
Good link-up play between Cox and man-of-the-match Akinola opened the Rovers defence down the left before Akinola did brilliantly to leave the covering defender for dead with some nice skill.
He crossed to the edge of the box where Sparkes was waiting and he expertly slid the ball into the net for a decisive lead.
It knocked any stuffing that had been left in Rovers out of them and the Iron were toying with their opponents by the end as they claimed another big scalp.
Braintree Town: Nick Hamman, Mitch Brundle, Sam Habergham, Remy Clerima, Alan Massey, James Mulley, Kenny Davis, Dan Sparkes (Dan Walker 73), Chez Isaac, Simeon Akinola (Michael Bakare 90), Jordan Cox (Steven Smith 85).
Subs not used: Sean Marks, Carl Pentney.
(Let the celebrations begin for Alan Devonshire and his players)
(Adapted from the Daily Gazette News)