By Jack McGraghan
Joseph Ellul’s goal 10 minutes into the second half proved to be enough to condemn Gateshead to defeat against Braintree at the International Stadium.
The Heed were unable to cancel out the Iron defender’s 55th minute header and came up short in what was an unremarkable game which saw Braintree win their first match of the National League season.
Steve Watson made one change to the side that won 1-0 at Ebbsfleet last Saturday with Cameron Salkeld replacing Luke Molyneux, who suffered an injury during the warm-up.
Proceedings got off to a cagey start, with both sides struggling to gain the upper hand possession-wise in midfield.
The first opportunity of the afternoon arrived after 21 minutes via some good link-up play between Greg Olley and Steve Rigg on the edge of the box, before the latter curled wide of the far post.
The pair were involved again on the right-wing later on as Rigg and Salkeld combined before the midfielder flicked on to Olley, who controlled and struck a few yards wide of the far post.
Although Gateshead remained on top during the first 45, clear goalscoring opportunities proved elusive with the Braintree defence staying compact and difficult to bypass.
The Iron were reluctant to commit players forward on the counter-attack in the first half and created few chances as a result, their only sight of goal coming through Reece Grant’s header which was easily claimed by Aynsley Pears.
Moments later, it was the Heed’s turn to try and force the issue from a corner through Rigg once again but his downward was held by goalkeeper Ben Killip.
Despite creating little in the first half it was the visitors who struck first, Ellul heading home from a wide free-kick which was sent into a crowd of Braintree players at the back post.
The Heed pushed men forward in search of a route back into the game after falling behind and came close to finding an equaliser through Rigg, who saw a goal-bound header blocked by Killip from close range.
The returning Scott Barrow’s lofted effort had Killip scrambling back towards goal a few minutes later, before JJ O’Donnell’s header found the roof of the net.
Unfortunately for Gateshead, the all-important scoring touch just wouldn’t come and Braintree returned home with all three points.
Gateshead (4-4-2): Pears; Tinkler (c), Kerr, Mellish, O’Donnell; White, Forbes, Olley, Salkeld (Barrow, 69’); Rigg, Boden.
Subs not used: Foden, Hunter, Williamson, Devitt.
Bookings: Forbes (65’)
Braintree Town (4-2-3-1): Killip; Murela, Ellul (Clark, 68’), Gabriel, Nieskens; Crook, James; Sagaf, Bettamer, Amaluzor (Della-Verde, 61’); Grant (Rowe, 80’).
Subs not used: Allen, Patterson.
Goals: Ellul (55’)
Bookings: Amaluzor (13’), Grant (27’), Della-Verde (90+1’), Murela (90+4’)
Referee: Tom Reeves
Attendance: 578 (14 Braintree)
MOTM: JJ O’Donnell