Saturday, 20 August 2011

Braintree Town 1 v Mansfield Town 1 - BSBP

Man love during the Stags warm up/bonding session

Saturday 20th August 2011, at Cressing Road Stadium
Blue Square Bet Premier
Braintree Town (0) 1
Louis Briscoe 47
Mansfield Town (0) 1
Adam Bailey-Dennis 55
Admission £15 (£1 extra to sit), Attendance 875
Braintree Town thrashed Grimsby Town 5-0 on Tuesday, while the Stags were losing 3-0 at Gateshead.
Though I can fully understand how Mansfield came unstuck on Tyneside, having seen it with my own eyes, on today's showing it didn't look as though 'The Iron' had 5 goals in them.
It must've been quite an eye opener for the Grimsby fans who'd travelled to Essex in midweek.
Talking of 'The Iron', we passed the other team with that nickname, Scunthorpe United, en route to Braintree, they were heading for Charlton Athletic, where they came back from 2-0 behind to grab a draw. The time just flies by on our travels with such excitement to keep us all amused.
The A14 resembled an episode of Wacky Races, but after a quick pit-stop, we were soon parked up at Braintree Town's ground, hidden away in a curious little housing estate and made the nearby Orange Tree public house our base camp, from noon onwards.
If you're ever looking for Braintree Town's ground ... when you drive down Cressing Road and pass the Orange Tree pub on your right, take the next turn left into Clockhouse Way and then left again ... it won't look like you're near a football ground, but trust me, it's there, tucked away behind the 'dwellings' in the most unlikely looking corner.
So what do you get ground wise when visiting Cressing Road Stadium?
This was my first ever visit here, so I took a few photographs ... sad git that I am.
Once you've found the secret passage that leads out of Clockhouse Way, there is actually a decent sized car park.
No room at the inn

Braintree Town have a social club, but they don't let visiting supporters use it.
"You see it's the legislation in this league mate, the rules say away fans can't use the bar at the ground, it has to be for home fans only. It's the same everywhere"
Oh really, they welcome the away fans in at Mansfield.
"Yeah but, they're not in this league are they?"
Well, err ... yes, they're playing here today actually.
Never mind eh!?
The aforementioned Orange Tree is just around the corner and our money was good enough to pass as currency in there.
Decent beer, great food, good prices, a couple of hundred away fans stuffing their faces and drinking at a steady pace ... a nice little earner for somebody, but not Braintree Town FC.
Today segregation was in force, the away fans got a covered terrace, three steps deep, at one end of the ground and about 80 seats in one end of the only seated stand in the ground.
There were just four Portaloos for all of the away fans to share ... and by Jesus, you needed a gas mask to go in them by the time the second half got under way :-/
The Braintree fans had the rest of the seats, a covered terrace that runs along two thirds of one side of the pitch and a small open terrace behind the clubhouse end goal, which must've been great fun when the heavy rain started five minutes before kick off.The ground has a certain charm and character ... I'm not entirely sure if it's up to 'Conference' (as most people still call it) standard just yet, or if Braintree have a deadline to sort a few bits n' pieces out.
But I liked the place.
And even though the Stags faithful want their team back in the Football League, road trips like this are a break from the monotony of annual visits to the same old circuit of grounds.
That said, more and more of those teams from the ' good olde' days of yore are taking root in 'Division 5' these days, having dropped out of the upper echelons, into what is becoming an increasingly difficult league to get out of ... in an upward direction anyway.
Big Ben

Following the enforced line up changes that Gary Ricketts caused with his recklessness in a pre season 'friendly' match... and in the aftermath of the less than convincing display at Gateshead in midweek ..., the Stags manager Paul Cox has moved swiftly, to bring in the time served and extremely tall pro' Ben Futcher on a month's loan from Npower League One side Bury, to steady things at the back ... he was man of the match on his début today and his influence instilled confidence in those around him.
Futcher is an impressive player and hasn't let the low point of his career, when he had to play for crappy Lincoln City, effect his calm, assured, self belief and 100% thorough application.
Braintree Town: McDonald, O'Connor, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, Thomas, Yiadom, Symons, Davis, Reason (Quinton 73), Marks, Wright (Chilaka 83). Subs Not Used: Ashlee Jones, Constantine, James-Lewis. Mansfield Town: Marriott, O'Neill, Riley, Futcher, Kendrick, Briscoe, Murray, Howell, Meikle, Dyer (Connor 82), Green. Subs Not Used: Redmond, Wood, Stevenson, Worthington.
The teams came out on the pitch with the rain pouring down ... and though the weather settled, the game was a bit hit and miss for a while.
But it got better later on.
Both teams threatened to break the deadlock, but it was probably the home side who shaded the exchanges in the first half.
Sean Marks came closest to scoring but the Stags keeper Alan Marriott (who also moved on to better things after leaving Lincoln City) saved the fourth minute snatched effort.
Matt Green had two efforts on goal blocked and put a chance just wide, so I guess it couldn't have been all Braintree in the first 45 minutes like certain pessimists had claimed.
But the second half was definitely one sided and Mansfield camped out in the home side's half ... well except for when the Essex scored of course!!!
Within two minutes of the second half getting under way Mansfield were ahead, Matt Green's shot was blocked by Nathan McDonald, the ball spun off the Braintree keepers legs into the path of Louis Briscoe who was homing in and he smashed home the loose ball from ten yards ... see picture below.
McDonald had a great game.
It says a lot for the Stags second half performance that he was so busy.
However shortly after Mansfield went ahead, Braintree equalised.
Matt Pain headed a corner towards Marriott's goal and Adam Bailey-Dennis put the ball over the line with a back header, which according to the ref had gone fully over the line before it was hooked away ... his view was better than mine.
Two things the referee and his assistants did get wrong though; were that none of them (apparently) saw Braintree's Nicky Symons stamp on Luke O'Neill's head while he was on the ground.
I was behind one of the linesmen when it happened and fail to see how he could've missed it. Thankfully O'Neill wasn't hurt too badly.
Then on 80 minutes Louis Briscoe was blatantly hacked down in the box while running in on goal after neatly turning a defender in his wake ... the referee waved it away and the same linesman missed that one too.
I try to cover things as unbiased and impartially as possible ... and though I might have the odd Stags tattoo or two on my person ... from a position of complete neutrality ... that was a definite penalty!
Lindon Meikle fires narrowly wide. Oi! Mind my camera!!!

However, just like the Andy Todd claim at the end of the Bath City game, there is no guarantee that a penalty would result in a certain goal ... and ultimately the main reason the Stags were going to have to settle for a draw, was the lack of a few clinical touches on the end of so much possession and attacking football in the second half.
Less than a minute after the penalty appeal, Mansfield breached the home side's rearguard again and Matt Green fired his effort inches wide.
Wave after wave of attacks threatened to overwhelm the home side, but still the score remained 1-1.
Right at the end of a one sided half of football, Braintree mounted a late counter attack, when Andy Yiadom went on a surging run into the Mansfield penalty box and fired his effort inches wide.
Even from an 'unbiased and impartial' perspective, I would have been gutted if that one would have gone in, given the percentage of play the Stags had dominated.
Listening to the Iron manager, Alan Devonshire, after the game on the local radio channel, while we headed home, he seemed to share my views about the second half, so I'm probably not too far off with my surmising of the situation.
The visiting supporters applauded their team off at the end of the game ... I don't recall that happening at Gateshead.
We got away fairly quickly and by a miracle of modern petrol combustion engine transportation (i.e. 'phew' we didn't activate any speed cameras) we were back home before 7pm.
More of the same (as the second half at least) against Luton Town on Tuesday night from the Stags, ought to get last season's beaten FA Trophy semi finalists on the back foot ... what was it they said again?
Oh yes, I remember "You can keep Wembley we're getting promotion instead!"
But it's going to need a few better finishing touches up front when the Bedfordshire team roll into town.
I wonder if Ben Futcher can play at centre forward???