Iron book play-off berth

Weston-super-Mare v Braintree Town – Vanarama National League South – Optima Stadium – Report

Weston-super-Mare 0-1 Braintree Town

Braintree Town booked their spot in the Vanarama National League South post-season play-off places for the second year in succession after Tom Blackwell’s seventieth-minute strike secured a 1-0 victory over Weston-super-Mare at the Optima Stadium. 

Angelo Harrop made just one change to his starting line-up following the Iron’s 2-0 win over Hemel Hempstead Town at the Rare Breed Meat Co. Stadium on Easter Monday with Charlie Wakefield coming into the side in place of Jayden Davis.

Braintree looked to dominate from the start and in the tenth minute, Tom Blackwell cut inside from the left to send a curling effort goalwards, only for the ball to take a deflection off the back of striking partner Freddie Sears and skim past the upright.     

Skipper Baris Altintop went close before the half-hour mark, heading Blackwell’s free-kick inches wide of the far post before minutes after, Joe Grimwood’s pulsating twenty-five-yard drive thumped against top corner of the crossbar before bouncing away to safety.

Sears was unfortunate not to put Braintree into the lead just before half-time when after picking up a loose ball out of defence, the former West Ham and Colchester United forward’s first-time snapshot was blocked on the line before being desperately scrambled away to safety by the Seagulls defence.    

With Braintree continuing to press after the restart, Dom Odusanya played a great ball over the top for Aaron Blair to wrong-foot keeper Max Harris with a sublime first touch – only for the Cheltenham Town loanee to recover swiftly to get back across the open goal and deflect Blair’s shot wide of the post.      

Iron finally broke the deadlock with twenty minutes remaining when Alfie Payne’s long ball from inside his own half found Blackwell on the left to cut in along the line before launching the ball high into the roof of the net, via a deflection, to make it 1-0. 

Late on, Davis set up Blair inside the Seagulls 18-yard box, only for the former Dagenham & Redbridge front man’s shot to dip just wide of the upright.

Just four minutes from time, Iron keeper Jack Sims dived brilliantly to his left to keep out Reuben Reid’s stinging long-range effort, but Harrop’s men were barely troubled thereafter as they played out time to claim the three points that now mathematically confirmed a play-off berth at end of the season.

Next up for Braintree Town in Vanarama National League South is the visit of Taunton Town to the Rare Breed Meat Co. Stadium on Tuesday night (7.45pm.)

Weston-super-Mare: Harris, Wood, Thomas (Soule 78’) Pope, Humphries, Mannings, Dodd, Grubb (Capt) (Jagger-Cane 62’) Kempster, Reid, Bastin Subs not used: Butchers, Avery, Jackson

Braintree Town: Sims, Davies, Altintop (Capt) Grimwood, Blackwell (Lambe 78’) Payne, Blair, Sears (Coulthirst 66’) Wakefield (Davis 71’) Rendall, Odusanya Subs not used: Miccio, Brothers

Referee: Josh Crofts

Assistants: Neal Templey and Thomas Green

Attendance: 1,004.