City draw little comfort from Iron stalemate

City played out their first league draw of the 2021-22 season against Braintree Town at Twerton Park this afternoon. The game ended goalless and a share of the points was probably the correct outcome, the struggling visitors twice striking the frame of the goal, but City were once again left frustrated by several refereeing decisions. With a strong wide blowing toward the Bath End, Braintree enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, Ryan Clarke doing well to divert an early in-swinging corner away from danger. Having weathered this pressure City began to find their way into the game but they couldn’t fashion any clear-cut openings. They then had an escape on 24 minutes when Johnson’s 25-yard shot struck the post with Clarke well beaten. The half ended with the first moment of controversy. Tom Smith had diverted the ball toward goal after Iron keeper Johnson completely missed a Callum Rowe corner, where Davidson appeared to kick straight through the back of Cody Cooke in attempting to clear the ball. However, the referee saw nothing wrong with the challenge to the astonishment of the Romans. With the wind in their favour after the break City began to pose a greater threat going forward and just past the hour mark only a great goalline clearance from Davidson kept out Alex Fletcher’s shot. On 75 minutes a ball through the middle looked to have sent Rowe clear on goal only for Payne to drag him to the ground just outside the box, but once again the referee just waved play on. Two minutes later Zak Delaney went down in the box but this time the referee’s reaction was to book him for diving. Smith fired into the side-netting shortly after this as City continued to push for a winner. However, as they committed more men forward they were twice almost caught with a late sucker punch, Clarke turning an 88th minute corner onto the bar before a swift break saw Braintree have several men over only for Delaney to get back and clear the danger.