Braintree Town 1, Fleetwood Town 2
FLEETWOOD replaced their hosts in second spot after winning this clash of two form sides in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
The win stretched Micky Mellon’s side’s unbeaten run to seven games, six of them won, while halting the Blue Square South champions’ run of six straight victories, which had seen their boss Alan Devonshire named manager of the month for September.
A Jamie Milligan penalty and a winner claimed by Andy Mangan proved enough to claim the points.
Richard Brodie returned after his one-match ban, and joined Mangan up front in the absence of Magno Vieira, who faces a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
Jamie Vardy and Jamie McGuire completed their three-game bans on Saturday.
Fleetwood threatened first with a series of early corners. before a deep cross by Ryan Peters put Fleetwood under pressure, but centre-halves Rob Atkinson and Steve McNulty dealt with the danger.
Atkinson was also making his presence felt at the other end, but Nathan McDonald denied the defender when he met Milligan’s out-swinging corner after 15 mintues.
Brodie started his afternoon duel with centre-half Matt Paine by winning a free-kick, the first of a series of clashes between the two, who both picked up a yellow card.
It was Paine who brought down Keith Briggs after 20 minutes to concede the penalty from which Milligan fired Fleetwood ahead.
Mangan played the ball into the box and Brodie headed into the path of oncoming midfielder Briggs, who was felled by the home defender.
Milligan coolly placed the spot-kick to the right of McDonald to claim his 50th league goal for Town.
Fleetwood immediately switched off in the afternoon heat, and Braintree were level within a minute through Kerry Davies.
A long ball from the restart saw Braintree apply pressure, and Davies’ low drive from the edge of the area went through a mass of players and past keeper Scott Davies.
Milligan almost doubled his tally with a free-kick from inside his own half but the ball went just wide into the side-netting.
The visitors went all-out to restore their lead in the second half but were frustrated by the home defence, and repeated shrills from the whistle.
Brodie continued his battle with Paine, while Mangan almost got the better of Aswad Thomas to sneak around the back of the defence.
Fleetwood had a number of free-kick opportunities in front of goal, but Milligan was unable to work his deadball magic.
Even so, the Cod Army were still able to celebrate their second away victory in five days on 65 minutes.
The move started with a throw by Shaun Beeley inside his own half. Brodie headed on to Mangan, who threaded the ball through to the advancing Clancy.
The midfielder shrugged off two defenders and fired at goal. McDonald only half-blocked and the ball passed under his body and rolled towards the line.
Keeper and defenders rushed back to clear, but Mangan quickly joined the melee and the travelling supporters had another victory to celebrate.
Clancy was defiant, claiming the goal was his. He said: “It was a team effort and it doesn’t really matter who put the ball over the line, but I will take credit.”
Mangan quipped: “The ball wouldn’t have gone in unless I arrived on the line, so it’s my goal.”
Town have a blank week ahead of Saturday’s home match against Forest Green Rovers.
Braintree: McDonald, Thomas, Bailey-Dennis (Stevens 89), Paine, Reason, Symons (Johnson 76), Davis, Yiadom, Peters, Marks, Wright (Quinton 76); not used: Jones, McLeod
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, McNulty, Brown, Atkinson, Clancy (Cox 88), Milligan, Briggs, Brown (Pond 67), Brodie, Mangan; not used: St Louis-Hamilton, Goodall, Hughes;
Ref: Mr Martin; Attendance: 1,005