Braintree Town 2 Nuneaton Town 1
Thursday 27th March 2014 (Skrill Premier)
Match report courtesy of Nuneaton Telegraph;
Nuneaton Town slipped out of the Skrill Premier play-off places after Mark Noon’s first game in caretaker charge ended in defeat at Braintree.
A Theo Streete own goal and Dan Holman’s strike inside the opening quarter were enough to give the hosts a deserved victory against a depleted Boro side, despite Dave Hibbert’s second-half goal.
The defeat was the second in a row against fellow play-off contenders since Kevin Wilkin’s departure for Wrexham and saw Braintree jump above Boro into fifth spot.
Noon was dealt a huge blow before even arriving in Essex with strikers Andy Brown and Louis Moult both unable to make the trip due to work commitments and a closure on the M6 motorway.
In their absence Greg Pearson partnered Hibbert up front, while Noon handed debuts to the on-loan duo of goalkeeper Dale Eve and left-back Jordan Cranston.
Braintree were playing their third game of the week but were given an early gift on eight minutes as Streete turned James Mulley’s low cross into his own net.
Ten minutes later it was two as a quick Braintree counter-attack saw Sean Marks play in Holman, who raced into the area and slotted past Eve.
Boro failed to create a chance of note in the first half, and only a double save from Eve prevented Braintree from extending their lead, firstly keeping out Holman’s header at point-blank range before denying Mulley.
The hosts continued to dominate after the break, Eve saving from Dan Sparkes, while Holman wasted another chance when he shot wide.
Nuneaton had gone 70 minutes without an attempt on goal but Hibbert gave them hope when out of nowhere he got in behind the defence and fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Boro couldn’t build on their goal, however, and Braintree almost restored their two-goal cushion immediately as Dan Wells’ header was cleared by Streete on the line before Holman shot straight at Eve.
It took until injury time for Boro to enjoy some pressure, but Wes York’s low shot across the face of goal was as close as they came to snatching an unlikely point.