United put themselves back into contention to stay up in the National League with a convincing win over Braintree at Plainmoor.
A double by striker Brett Williams and Jordan Lee’s first goal since joining on loan capped a terrific team performance.
Kevin Nicholson made one change to the side that went so close in beating Lincoln last Friday. Striker Brett Williams came in to the starting eleven for Damon Lathrope who took a place on the bench.
The pressure on both teams heading into to kick-off was palpable . Who would withstand the pressure the best. United didn’t take long to get out of the traps, but had to withstand an early setback while still doing most of the running.
Luke Young surged into box in the opening moments of the match. His pace nearly took him into enough space to take a shot on goal but Jerome Okimo matched him for pace and jostled him enough for the ball to go safe.
United failed to clear a ball in the 8th minute and Braintree made them pay. United gave away a couple of cheap free-kicks in prime crossing territory. Braintree scored the opening goal as a result of the second. The ball came into United’s six yard box and there were plenty of bodies there, but a Braintree player had the telling touch. Manny Parry the man to nod in from just a yard or two out from the goal-line.
In the 17th minute the ball broke to Williams to take a snapshot on goal. It looked initially like Ruairi Keating was going to take the chance on himself but Williams made his mind up and shot a few yards wide of the post.
United had a bit of luck and the awareness of striker Brett Williams to thank for creating a clear chance in the 36th minute. Williams took advantage when a botched clearance bounced back to him to run on goal. The ball struck two Braintree players before falling for Williams. His low shot beat Beasant and United were back on terms…except they weren’t. After the celebrations had subsided all eyes pointed towards the referee who was consulting his assistant referee. After a long delay the goal was ruled out, possibly for offside, although it isn't clear at this point.
Everything looked absolutely fine, the Yellow Army were at a loss as to why Williams’s goal couldn’t stand.
United were rightly fired up by the call and it didn’t take long for Williams to strike again.
Williams worked his covering man well, and created enough space to strick a sweet effort from just outside the box that arrowed towards the bottom corner. There was no doubt about this one! A goal all day long!
United were level and were looking for more goals when the half-time whistle came.
The timing of United’s second goal was all-important, and we didn’t have to wait long.
A terrific free-kick by Luke Young caused chaos inside Braintree’s box. United kept the ball alive and Williams struck a low powerful shot into the net. 2-1!
A few minute later, a low free-kick by Young into the box had his teammates lunging towards the ball. Williams came in at the far post, only for his header to hit the post. It all happened within a blink of an eye.
Jamie Reid found Jordan Lee inside the box in the 59th minute. His low shot was saved by Sam Beasant, but the ball went loose inside the six-yard box. Keating was lurking, but Parry cleared for Braintree.
Lee was at it again in the 61st minute. Braintree were feeling the strain at the back, and Lee’s low shot was once again saved by Beasant down to his right. Surely the pressure would tell?
Jamie Reid passed up a great chance to score United’s third. Braintree defender Manny Parry struggled defending a long ball forward. Reid’s pressure forced him into giving the ball up. Reid opted to shoot early, when an attempt to take it around the on-rushing Beasant may have been the better option.
United were calling most of the shots, but a sense self-preservation was also creeping in. The team was starting to play as if there were a few minutes left to play when there was about twenty.
Braintree's Sean Clohessy lifted a free-kick over the bar for Braintree in the 75th minute and pressure was starting to mount on United’s goal. Clohessy was then booked for a challenge on Jamie Reid a minute or so later. Young’s free-kick into the box had a little too much on it for Sean McGinty at the far post.
United sealed the three points in added on time. Jamie Reid found Keating with a cute ball inside the box. Keating cut the ball back to Williams whose shot was saved by Beasant. The ball came out to Jordan Lee who made no mistake from close range.
The win keeps us in with a chance of survival. Guiseley and York both suffered defeats that keeps the door open. The battle continues at Dover Athletic on Saturday. Get there if you can and cheer the lads into another vital three points.