FT: Braintree 0 Imps 3

Ten-man City secure three more vital points

Gomez Dali replaced Craig Hobson up front and Paul Turnbull came in for Alan Power in midfield as the Imps faced Braintree in this Blue Square Bet Premier clash on a Cressing Road pitch which had seen two pitch inspections before being passed fit by referee Lee Swabey.

City, in all white, kicked off on what was a chilly evening with the playing surface surrounded by heaps of snow, such has been the extreme weather in Essex in the build-up to the match.

The hosts were the first to carve out a half-chance with Paul Farman forced to claim a snap-shot following an inswinging free-kick into the City box but there was drama as the Imps replied as, with just four minutes on the clock, they were reduced to 10 men when full debutant Gomez Dali was dismissed.

The incident which led to Dali's sending off came after he tussled with his marker and with referee Swabey indicating a stamp, out came the red.

With the Devonian official keen to exercise his whistle at regular intervals, it was most definitely a stop-start opening but after City dealt with a Braintree corner in the 10th minute, a sweeping Imps' attack ended with Sheridan forcing keeper Nathan McDonald to tip behind. Turnbull's corner came to nothing though.

A scrappy period ensued with the poor condition of the pitch making it difficult for both sides, and it wasn't until the 20th minute when an attacking set-piece came along with the overlapping Tom Miller winning a corner which was hurriedly cleared by the Iron defence. At the other end a snap-shot from Kenny Davis flew well over.

In the 24th minute Sheridan had an effort hooked off the line following a long Miller throw into the danger area and it wasn't long before the Imps were pushing forward again and they did so in some style, with Tony Diagne - up in support - pulling out a strike straight from the top drawer; the left-back volleying in a looping 25-yarder which dipped over McDonald before nestling in the left corner of his net.

City pressed again on the half-hour mark with a Miller throw leading to a corner on the left but Turnbull's inswinger was claimed by McDonald. Braintree's response saw ex-Imp Luke Daley see his cross deflect into Farman's gloves off Mo Fofana.

McDonald then dropped a Turnbull free-kick under pressure in the six-yard box but the ball ran kindly for the home custodian as a team mate was on hand to clear; Sean Marks drilling into the trees at the other end as Braintree responded.

A Town corner followed but Fofana and Sheridan combined to clear before the Fourth Official indicated that a minimum of three minutes were to be added on. A weak effort from the home side which went closer to the corner flag than the target was the only effort during these extra stages.

HT: Braintree 0 Imps 1

Both teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second half and Braintree were the early recipients of a questionable free-kick three minutes in but Farman was well positioned to fling himself full length to tip behind Sparkes' effort.

A Braintree corner was then hacked away by Miller as the hosts started the half brightly but City stood firm; the 10 men showing good shape and discipline during the opening quarter hour following the restart.

Another Town free-kick, given for a Boyce push on the hour mark, saw Davis fire straight at the City wall. Fofana was then booked for kicking the ball away after Todd Jordan was penalised for a trip. The Imps easily dealt with the danger whilst at the other end Taylor appeared to be held off as he went for a long Farman punt but referee Swabey spotted nothing untoward.

In the 65th minute Taylor was cautioned for persistent infringement, although his foul on Alan Massey was probably the first time he was penalised all match. Jordan and Sheridan then combined before Taylor prodded over the advancing McDonald and wide.

Alex Woodyard replaced Kaine Sheppard for the hosts in their first switch of the game whilst a couple of minutes later Fofana was left grounded after a Town man appeared to lead with his arm. Nothing was spotted by the officials though and Fofana returned after treatment.

When play restarted a free-kick eventually went City's way when Taylor was bundled over and up stepped Diagne again; the full-back setting his sights from range before drilling in a superb effort which gave McDonald no chance between the home sticks.

Fofana was replaced by Alan Power with 12 minutes remaining before Massey scooped a Sheridan cross a foot wide. The corner, taken by Power with his first touch, was whipped in and there to meet it was Andrew Boyce who saw his bullet header fly into the roof of the net.

A couple of minutes after this goal, Diagne was forced off injured with Dan Gray coming on as his replacement; Gray going to right-back with Miller switching sides as Ryan Watts came on for Habergham for the hosts at the same time.

Aaron Wickham replaced Nicky Symons for Town's final switch with five minutes of normal time on the clock but the hosts looked down and out with the Imps' triple knocking the stuffing out of them.

Four added minutes was indicated and midway through these a hobbling Sheridan was replaced by Adam Smith for the last incident of note; the professional approach by the 10-man Imps seeing them through to three more vital points.

FT: Braintree 0 Imps 3

City: Paul Farman, Tom Miller, Andrew Boyce, Nat Brown, Tony Diagne, Todd Jordan, Mamadou Fofana, Paul Turnbull, Jake Sheridan, Jamie Taylor, Gomez Dali.

subs: Adam Smith (for Sheridan 90+3), Alan Power (for Fofana 78), Dan Gray (for Diagne 81), Jake Jones, David Preece.

goals: Diagne (26, 74), Boyce (79)

bookings: Fofana (62), Taylor (65)

sending off: Dali (4)

Braintree: Nathan McDonald, Matt Paine, Sam Habergham, Dean Wells, Alan Massey, Luke Daley, Dan Sparkes, Nicky Symons, Kenny Davis, Kaine Sheppard, Sean Marks.

subs: Danny Naisbitt, Ryan Watts (for Habergham 81), Aaron Wickham (for Symons 85), Steven Smith, Alex Woodyard (for Sheppard 69).

Referee: Lee Swabey
Assistants: David Spain & Graeme Ions
Fourth Official: Michael Smith

Attendance: 447