Braintree 1-0 FC Halifax Town

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FC Halifax Town are still looking for their first away league win of the season after a 1-0 defeat at Braintree.

The Shaymen were left with another long journey back to Halifax after a below-par performance that only adds to the mystery of their form on the road comapred to their prolific record at home.

Unfortunately, Town just look a different side away from the Shay and were left with a feeling of frustration that a display something like that of recent ones in front of their own fans would surely have been enough to end the winless run.

Braintree were an organised outfit but lacked the quality of Town’s attacking options, who never really got into their stride as the hosts edged a game of few chances.

Not surprisingly, Town were unchanged from the side that started the 4-0 win over Aldershot last week, with Dan Gardner again left out of the matchday squad.

But the opening half could hardly have been more of a contrast from Town’s demolition of the Shots at the Shay.

The bobbly pitch was having a greater impact on the game than either side, with both teams struggling to produce any meaningful spell of pressure.

Dan Holman came closest to opening the scoring, but that’s not saying much, when he inexplicably headed high and wide at the near post from James Mulley’s cross.

Another Mulley cross then evaded both Braintree forwards in the box before Sean Marks also headed off target as the hosts started strongly, but a goal looked increasingly unlikely to arrive as the opening half progressed.

Braintree featured a Marks and a Sparkes in their squad, but neither team could buy a goal as the game deteriorated into a scrappy affair largely contested in the middle third.

Town’s creative outlets, Josh Wilson and Lee Gregory, belied the playing surface to show some delicated touches, but were starved of service as the visitors were forced to rely on the long throws of Marc Roberts to deliver the ball into the Braintree box.

Roberts’ header from Adam Smith’s corner was Town’s sole effort on target in the first-half as the Shaymen struggled to reproduce the same verve to their attacking play as seven days previously.

As Alfreton had done to such devastating effect in Town’s last away league game, Braintree launched a fair few aerial missiles with the pitch hardly offering a viable route to goal.

But Town coped much better with those high balls than they had in Derbyshire, with Roberts again a towering presence at the heart of the defence, repeatedly sending the ball right back where it came from.

But the defender was caught out on the hour mark when one of those high balls finally paid off as Marks got in behind the Town defence as was fouled by Roberts as he charged towards goal.

Kenny Davis did the honours from the spot as that elusive away win moved further out of reach.

That goal came after a bright start to the second-half by Town, with Scott McManus’ venomous strike flashing wide, but it almost got even worse when Matt Paine rose to meet a corner, with Matt Glennon saving on the line.

Joe Ironside was brought on soon afterwards, and came close to equalising after an incisive move that looked oddly out of place in the game, with Lois Maynard and Josh Wilson exchanging passes before Ironside’s shot was tipped over by Nik Hamann.

Braintree persisted in their route one approach, with substitute Jordan Cox threatening on the break as Town pressed forward.

But a Simon Ainge header was all Town could muster as Braintree closed ranks.

A forgettable afternoon then took another awful twist when Gregory came off much worse from an aerial challenge with Hamann, and ended the game clutching the same left hand that he injured earlier this season.

If it proves to be the same injury, the chances of Town’s away run ending at Hereford on Tuesday have just got that bit worse.

Braintree: Hamann, Peters, Massey, Wells, Habergham, Daley, Paine, Davis, Mulley, Marks, Holman (Cox 77). Subs not used: McDonald, Sparkes, Enver-Marum, Geohaghon.

Scorer: Davis (60)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 4

Corners: 4

Halifax: Glennon, Pearson, Ainge, Roberts, Lowe, Smith (McReady 61), Maynard (Love 75), Marshall (Ironside 65), McManus, Wilson, Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Worthington.

Shots on target: 3

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 3

Town man of the match: Simon Ainge