HARRIERS indulged in a spot of goal-therapy to help blow away the blues as they ended their three-game losing run in the Blue Square Bet Premier with a well-deserved victory in Essex on Saturday.
After a grim few weeks, this result was just what the doctor - and manager Steve Burr – ordered as an impressive second half display put the in-form Iron to the sword.
The difference between this result and recent defeats was that Harriers added quality finishing and a more aggressive defensive approach to their silky midfield play.
Their efforts were helped against a Braintree who are stylistic soulmates of the Aggborough outfit. Unlike recent opponents, Braintree were keen to get forward at every opportunity, giving Burr’s side the space they thrive upon.
An emphatic win didn’t seem on the cards when the home side opened the scoring in the fifth minute.
Top-scorer Ben Wright had already signalled his intent when he flashed a shot across the face of goal but he swapped passes with strike partner Sean Marks to open up the visiting defence and slid an accurate effort into the bottom far corner.
To Harriers’ credit they responded well, with Jack Byrne’s header and Tom Marshall’s shot forcing keeper Nathan McDonald into action.
The luck which evaded them in recent weeks also came full circle when Mickey Demetriou lofted a hopeful ball forwards from the half way line, which McDonald could only meekly tip onto the bar, before allowing the ball to squirm behind the goal for a corner.
Marvin Johnson swung in the set-piece and after Luke Jones got his head to the ball, it fell invitingly to Marshall who rifled home an unstoppable equaliser for his first Harriers goal.
While the strike boosted Harriers’ confidence, it also marked a fine return to the side for the defender nicknamed ‘Masha’, who looks leaner and meaner after a loan spell at Brackley.
He formed a physical partnership with Jones as the duo pumped up the volume to keep themselves and their teammates on their toes and certainly led to the most solid-looking performance in a number of weeks.With the back door tightly locked, the visitors piled forward looking for goals in the second half.
Byrne fired them ahead in the 51st minute, slamming a brilliant volley into the back of the net after Braintree failed to clear their lines.
Anthony Malbon continued to add to the eye-catching collection of goals on the hour mark when he outpaced the home defence and from a tight angle flashed a sumptuous right-footed volley into the back of the net. When Byrne caught out McDonald with a thundering 30-yard strike, the three points were in the bag and the confidence which had been eroded started to grow back.
“We needed a win after the results we’ve had,” commented assistant manager Gary Whild.
“If you look at the game, it wasn’t dissimilar to the last few, but the difference was the finishing.
“The finishing was quality and that makes a big difference. It’s a difficult place to come and you’ve only got to look at recent results to see what a good side they are.
“We knew it was going to difficult and I thought the lads showed a lot of character, we conceded an early goal but to come back to get a deserved equaliser just before half-time and the confidence was there again and for me there was only going to be one winner.”
Harriers: Breeden 7; Vaughan 7; Jones 7; MARSHALL 8; Hankin 7; Guinan 7; Byrne 8; Demetriou 7; Storer 7 (Bradley, 86); Malbon 7 (Wright, 60); Johnson.
Unused substitutes: Williams; Rowe; Lyness.
Braintree: McDonald; Thomas; Paine; Reason; Symons (Peters, 55); Davis; Marks; Wright (Appoak-Kubi, 87) Quinton (Guy, 67); O’Connor; Wells.
Unused substitutes: Bailey-Dennis; Green.
Referee: Amy Fearn.