FOOTBALL: LIAM McDonald hailed his ‘magnificent’ Moors after watching them come from three goals down to earn a valuable point at home to Braintree Town in the National League.
The Moors looked down and out after conceding three first half goals and with just over 20 minutes remaining they found themselves 3-1 down at the Automated Technology Group Stadium on Saturday.
But Oladapo Afolayan set the hosts on their way and four minutes from time the comeback was complete when George Carline fired home the equaliser to the joy of manager McDonald.
” As bad as we were defending in the first half, we were magnificent in the second,” said McDonald. “It was a good point.
“To concede three goals from set pieces was frustratingly bad for a team which is usually so good in those situations.
“It was a horrendous start but I told the players at half-time that we would open them up. To come back from three goals is all down to the spirit in the squad.
“I wondered if it was simply not our day with 20 minutes to go but we carried on right to the end – that is what we are all about.”
The first half misery started as early as the sixth minute for Moors when Braintree were awarded a free kick just outside the box and a curling cross caught the home defence and Nathan Baxter by surprise, with the ball curling into the back of the net.
Moors should have equalised on 15 minutes when Afolayan unleashed a bullet from 25 yards which was spilled by debutant keeper McNamara but there was nobody there for a simple tap in.
That paled into insignificance when just two minutes later another Braintree free kick this time from Lee, was flicked on by Corne and smashed home by top scorer Cheek.
Being 2-0 down with little more than a third of the first half played looked like a mountain to climb for Moors but things got even worse with 23 minutes gone. Midson was hauled down in the box by Joel Kettle and Michael Cheek duly sent Baxter the wrong way.
If there was to be anything salvaged from the game Moors desperately needed to cut the deficit before the interval and their response was immediate, with Ashley Sammons firing a free kick into the box and Simeon Maye rose majestically to make it 3-1.
On the half-hour mark Harry Lee’s free kick from 35 yards smashed against the upright and away for a corner and Afolayan responded with a powerful run and shot but with McNamara beaten the ball was cleared off the line.
Buoyed by McDonald’s half-time team talk, Moors came out for the second half flying with Regan Charles Cook and Afolayan seeing early efforts go wide of the mark.
With Moors starting to dominate, Braintree were reliant on breakaway and Baxter did well to save from Cheek on the hour mark.
McDonald swapped Nortey for Omari Sterling James on 64 minutes to bolster tired legs and the impact was immediate as he shot at McNamara but the keeper was well positioned.
When Maye clattered the impressive Cheek it needed all of Baxter’s agility to keep his side in the running as he dived full length to the far post to keep his side in the match.
And it proved to be an important save as with 11 minutes remaining George Carline produced a moment of brilliance. The midfielder bullied his way past three defenders before feeding the ball through to Afolayan who lashed the ball into the back of the net.
Afolayan was so unlucky to see his 20-yard strike skim the wrong side of the upright on 81 minutes but with four minutes left on the clock the equaliser eventually came.
Carline out jumped the Iron’s defence to meet Sammons’ free kick with an unstoppable header beyond the keeper to earn a share of the spoils.
Team: Baxer, Muromdedzi, Daly, Kettle, Sammons, Green, Maye, Afolayan (Doyle 90), Carline, Nortey (Sterling 60), Charles-Cook (Udoh 75)
Subs not used – Lewis, Franklin
Moors travel to second from bottom of the table North Ferriby this Saturday before travelling to nearest neighbours Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday.