Delirium soon turned to disappointment for Weston supporters last night, as two Braintree Town goals late on saw Weston’s play-off hopes hanging by a thread, with all hope of a top-seven finish now looking slim but not necessarily dead and buried just yet.
The first half was very much the story of the first half against St Albans last Tuesday, with chances falling Weston’s way. Kenan Dunnwald’s pass inside found Jarrad Welch outside the box, and once the Welshman got the ball out of his feet, his drive was kicked away by the feet of Nathan McDonald.
Mo Baghdadi was found by skipper Jacob Cane on the Weston right, and with the loanee using his strength to get past Ricky Gabriel, his poke towards goal was clawed away by McDonald’s outstretched hand. Gethyn Hill was then inches from breaking the deadlock, as Dunnwald muscled onto a Danny Greenslade clearance, but Gabriel was back in time to flick the ball off the line as Hill lunged for the ball.
A Dunnwald and Greenslade one-two led to Greenslade’s weak cross-shot being kicked away by McDonald’s feet again, before Braintree’s first attempt of the night came from Marcel Barrington, as Luke Purnell was forced to tip his 25-yard strike round the post for a corner.
Greenslade’s driven cross a minute later was headed over the bar by Dunnwald, who just couldn’t grow enough to get his head over the ball. A one-two between Roman Michael-Percil and Diaz Wright led to the former blazing his angled shot for Braintree well into the back of the stands, before Greenslade’s low free-kick from 25 yards, under the wall, was gathered by McDonald at the second attempt as the referee blew for the interval
A Weston counter just before the hour-mark almost saw them take the lead. A poor pass from Billy Crook was intercepted by Hill, who immediately fed Dunnwald. The German had to go alone, and from the edge of the box, his deflected strike off Christain Frimpong dropped just past the post. From the resulting corner, Welch’s short pass to Naby Diallo on the 18-yard line led to the central midfielder putting his shot inches wide of the post as the Seagulls sensed blood.
The goal came a few minutes later through some excellent play. Proving he wasn’t just a one-trick pony to the home fans, Baghdadi hit the byline and pulled the ball back for Hill. With the angle seemingly against him, the Welsh striker curled the ball into the far corner on his weaker left foot, leaving McDonald rooted, to score his 16th league goal of the season and put the Seagulls supporters into full voice.
Braintree got their undeserved equaliser with nine minutes to play though, when Reece Grant slipped through Michael-Percil, who looking up found substitute Luke Allen, who powered home a strike at Purnell’s near post.
The Iron got their winner five minutes from time, when fellow substitute Ben Wyatt was allowed to shoot from the edge of the box. The shot took a huge and wicked deflection off a Weston player, leaving Purnell helpless as the ball looped over his head and into the back of the net.
Braintree almost got a third though when Barrington was allowed to get into the box, and his powerful drive from an angle was tipped over the bar by Purnell as the Seagulls players looked dejected come full-time, with the playoffs seeming to slip away from reach.
FT: Weston 1 – 2 Braintree (Hill 62 – Allen 81, Wyatt 85)
Weston XI: Purnell, Harper, Greenslade, Cane (C), Lee, Pope, Baghdadi, Diallo, Hill, Welch, Dunnwald (Plummer 77). Unused subs: Kington, Parsons, Scott, Laird.
MOTM: Jake Lee – Weston’s utility man now seems to be settled at centre-back having played every positon bar two this season, and was dominant in the air against Braintree, winning everything that came his way.