Iron eye top-three finish

Havant & Waterlooville v Braintree Town – Vanarama National League South – Westleigh Park – Report

Havant & Waterlooville 1-2 Braintree Town 

Braintree Town kept themselves in contention for a Vanarama National League South top-three finish after a 2-1 win over already relegated Havant & Waterlooville at Westleigh Park. The result sees the Iron level on eighty-one points with Worthing, who remain in third spot on goal difference.

Angelo Harrop made just the one change to his starting line-up following the 0-0 draw with Taunton Town on Tuesday evening with Shaq Coulthirst coming into the side to replace Freddie Sears.

With Hawks’ Brendan Willson heading against the upright in stoppage time, following an opening half of few chances, Braintree took the lead in the fifty-first minute when after having been brought down in the box by keeper Ross Worner, Ebbsfleet United loanee Coulthirst stepped forward to slot home the resultant spot kick and make it 1-0.

The hosts were unfortunate not to draw level minutes later when Devante Stanley’s cross found Calum Kealy to set up Ryan Seager, only for the former Southampton and Milton Keynes Dons striker to see his effort thump against the post before rebounding away to safety.

Havant & Waterlooville made it 1-1 shortly after the hour mark when Jake McCarthy converted Jack Jebb’s corner past Jack Sims.

Somewhat controversially in the seventy-seventh minute, Braintree netted what proved to be the winner after substitute Sears played a telling pass through for Coulthirst, who despite appearing to be in an offside position, slotted the ball through Worner’s legs to make it 2-1.

Although Willson and Kai Innocent both went close in the dying stages, there was no way back for the Hawks as Braintree played out the remaining time to claim the points.

With their Vanarama National League South play-off position already secured, Braintree Town conclude their regular season campaign against Eastbourne Borough at the Rare Breed Meat Co. Stadium on Saturday (3pm). 

Havant & Waterlooville: Worner, Stanley, Innocent, McCarthy (Capt) Carlyle (Mukuna 86’) Seager, Willson, Kealy (Donkor 70’) Jebb, Roberts, Woolston. Subs not used: Walker-Harris, Spence, Crook

Braintree Town: Sims, Davies (Davis 69) Altintop (Capt.) Grimwood, Blackwell (Sears 69’) Payne (Lambe 58’) Blair, Couthirst, Wakefield, Rendall, Odusana Subs not used: Miccio, Brothers

Referee: Callum Fisk

Assistants: Robert Harrison and Thomas Farr

Attendance: 717