REPORT BY JOE GLIDEWELL
Fleet’s already slim survival hopes took another knock as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Braintree this afternoon, Stefan Payne seeing red to add to the woes.
Manager Liam Daish made two changes from Saturday’s loss with Liam Enver-Marum and Liam Bellamy coming into the starting line-up in place of Nathan Elder and Neil Barrett.
The Fleet started brightly, with Marum forcing a corner early on. Gareth Gwillim’s corners were spot on as always and as the ball fell to Payne his weak effort was saved by Nathan McDonald. Matt Godden was in a few moments later and his neat finish was met with the offside flag.
Just a few minutes later saw the first goal of the game. The Braintree players were allowed too much space and they made the Fleet pay. A ball across the six-yard box was struck home by the unmarked Luke Daley in the 11th minute.
Once again, the Fleet were undone from a corner as they gave the Braintree players more space than they should have. Fortunately Gwillim was there to clear off the line. The save of the match then came, when yet again a Braintree player was left unmarked in the area. His header was destined for the net until Preston Edwards got across and saved at full stretch.
The Fleet’s equaliser did come eventually in the 36th minute of the game after some good work between Payne and Marum. A neat one-two between the two allowed Marum through on goal and he made no mistake with the Fleet’s first effort on goal. He coolly slotted past McDonald in the Braintree goal.
The Fleet were then awarded a free-kick 25 yards out. Godden’s magnificent effort certainly deserved a goal. As he stepped up, his effort looked like it was heading for the top corner but smashed against the corner of the goal. Lady luck has certainly not been on the Fleet’s side this season and this was no different, as Braintree went up the other end and scored almost straight away!
A free-kick for the Iron wasn’t dealt with by the Fleet defence and James Mulley was there to head home from eight yards out to give the hosts a deserved 2-1 lead going into the break.
The Fleet created the first opening of the second half as a ball through allowed Marum in on goal. He drove the ball past the Iron keeper, but unfortunately, wide of the goal too. In what was quite a dull second half, this was to be the Fleet’s only chance.
The game was over 20 minutes into the second half. Mulley was brought down in the box by Tom Phipp and captain Kenny Davis stepped up – despite Edwards guessing the correct way, the ball was put out of his reach to the right.
Things went from bad to worse for the Fleet when Payne was sent off five minutes later for what looked to be a two-footed challenge. Nicky Symons, who was on the receiving end of the challenge, went off on a stretcher soon after.
The Iron had a few shots that went off target but the game passed without anymore talking points and Braintree secured the three points. The Town sit comfortably in 13th with 55 points but things are looking worse by the day for the Fleet who remain in 23rd place and 11 points adrift of safety.
TEAM: Edwards, Phipp, Gwillim, Walsh, Lorraine (Saville 77), Bellamy, Carew (Elder 75), Howe, Payne, Godden (Azeez 84), Enver-Marum. Subs not used: Menz, Barrett.