BRAINTREE TOWN 0 GATESHEAD 0
Braintree Town were frustrated by Gateshead as this Skrill Premier play-off tussle ended in a goalless stalemate at the Amlin Stadium.
The hosts had the better of the chances and dominated throughout, but it was the north-east side who were probably more satisfied with the point that both got.
Dan Holman’s 82nd minute penalty was the closest either came to breaking the deadlock, but the Iron striker, who has been so deadly in front of goal recently, saw his kick pushed on to the post by Gateshead keeper Adam Bartlett.
So in the end it was frustration for the hosts as they stayed just outside the top five, while Gateshead held on to their play-off position.
Gateshead came into the game unbeaten in eight and had won their previous five outings, including their meeting with Braintree at their home ground two weeks ago.
That ended with a 1-0 victory for the north-east side as they grabbed the three points with a last-minute goal despite being out-played for much of the preceding 89.
So Braintree were out for revenge as well as the chance to move back into the Skrill Premier play-off places.
They made just the one change from the side that beat Luton Town at Kenilworth Road with Nathan McDonald making his first start in goal since October 26 in place of the suspended Nick Hamann. And Braintree started with the confidence of a team who had shocked the division’s leaders a few days earlier as they looked to attack from the start.
They have performed best in recent games when they have got on the front foot early and even better with an early goal behind them.
That was clearly the game plan on this occasion and Jordan Cox looked to be the focal point of the first forays forward.
He went close to opening the scoring in the first few minutes, but his header from Chez Isaac’s cross went just wide.
After the lively start the game did settle down but any of the chances tended to be for the hosts. A 20th minute corner by Dan Sparkes saw Matt Paine launch a bullet header downwards but it was saved by Gateshead keeper Adam Bartlett with his feet.
Then ten minutes later Chez Isaac curling effort from an angle just outside the bar had Bartlett peddling backwards, but the keeper could see it was always going just over.
The first half ended goalless, just as it had at Gateshead a couple of weeks before, but Braintree once again looked lively after the restart.
A Dan Holman effort was deflected wide for a corner from close range and Alan Massey then volleyed just wide after a goalmouth scramble.
The continued and in the 62nd minute there were two great opportunities for Braintree in quick succession.
First Jordan Cox's snap shot from edge of the box forced Bartlett into superb save and then Dean Wells' header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line by Jamie Chandler.
It was frustrating for Braintree as they were unable to make the most of their chances and that theme continued in the 82nd minute.
Holman was bundled over and referee Richard Martin pointed to the spot for a penalty, but the Iron striker’s shot was pushed against the post by Bartlett before Holman headed the rebound just wide.
That was their last real sight of goal and the Iron now look forward to the visit of Dartford on Good Friday.