Next Match – Braintree Town (H)

Two in-form teams do battle at Twerton Park on Tuesday as fourth face fifth in National League South.

Braintree have won six in a row, their best run since January 2011, to move a point behind City who have 16 points from the last 18 available. The two sides have performed similarly – the Romans recorded three successive 1-0 wins during their run while the Iron make the long journey from Somerset having won their last four by that scoreline. Five clean sheets in a row is Town’s best record at this level, Saturday’s at Worthing was the standout as the hosts had scored in their last 35 home games in all competitions.

Braintree have won their last three away, having previously seen their momentum stalled by poor results on the road. Before this revival they’d won just two away in all competitions this term, whereas at home they’ve been near invincible since Angelo Harrop took over in the summer of 2022. In 45 matches in all competitions at the Rare Breed Meat Co. Stadium, Harrop has overseen just four defeats. That form enabled them to reach the play-offs last year where they lost to Worthing in the Eliminator, but they took some consolation by winning the Essex Senior Cup.

Aaron Blair’s last gasp strike in the fixture between Braintree and City aided their good home record, securing a 1-1 draw after Scott Wilson put the Romans ahead. Blair notched the winner in West Sussex at the weekend against former City custodian Ollie Wright to register his ninth league goal this term. They last suffered defeat on New Year’s Day against Essex rivals Chelmsford, another side who’ve had a bright 2024. That was Braintree’s third loss in a row, but it’s been quite a turnaround since.

To keep their winning streak going they’ll need to win at Twerton Park for the first time since 2010. Having drawn three and lost two since. Last year they led through Levi Amantchi but City left the Iron feeling flat when Alex Fletcher and Cody Cooke (2) netted in the second half on a baking August afternoon. Town won the return fixture 2-1 with John White on target, he’s recently been installed as Harrop’s number two. Like City they’ve had to rely on low numbers through this run. Having used 44 players this season, a more settled XI in recent weeks has benefited Town despite struggling to fill the bench.

City are unbeaten in six in the league, winning the first five of that sequence before Saturday’s draw at Havant. Their last loss, barring penalties, was on 9 January v Slough. Tom Smith will move one away from 250 appearances for Bath if he appears. The midfielder scored against Town on the opening day in 2019 and turned 26 on Sunday.

It sets up a tantalising clash under the lights! Tickets are available at a discounted price here. The players and management have commented on the strong support of late, keep it up this Tuesday for this top five tussle!