Salford City bowed to a first defeat of 2019 away at Braintree Town, who pinched a valuable three points with virtually the last kick of the game.
After a goalless 90 minutes the game entered injury time when Iffy Allen went down under pressure from Scott Wiseman, and from the resulting free kick Callum Morton found a way to get the crossed ball over the line.
The Ammies now drop to fifth, and manager Graham Alexander says that with 14 games to go his side need to put in more consistent performances if they are to keep up and around the top of the division.
“It’s cruel if you’ve played very well and battered the opposition then get done, but that’s not the case. It’s one of those where it’s the last minute, like Barrow away, a ball into the box.
“The goal has cost us a point, the other things that we’re looking for from our team which we’ve produced on many other occasions against the best opposition in this division, we’ve not repeated against other opposition so we have to sort out this blockage in our minds where we approach any opponent the same way each time, have the respect and discipline to be performing, competing all the way through the team and doing the things that we’ve worked on in the last six or seven months that have bought us success and sticking to those, not going off on our own way as individuals to do what we feel.
“We have to do what we do as a team, we have to sort that out straight away because there has been, in recent weeks, a difference from beating Wrexham and going to Leyton Orient and having two fantastic performances in every aspect, to then playing teams lower down the division and not turning the same type of performance so we have to get to the bottom of that immediately if we’re serious about trying to win promotion automatically.”
Matt Green had a chance early on cleared from the foot of the post and Carl Piergianni went close twice in the second half, while Braintree were restricted to efforts from distance by new signing Sam Kelly and Cameron James.
However apart from that there was little for either goalkeeper to do before Braintree forced a late winner.
“We had opportunities to score but didn’t have that many against us. In the last three games we haven’t scored from open play in games where we would expect to do that so defensively I think we looked strong, but we need to find that little fizz, electricity when we’re trying to score goals.
“Obviously the overriding feeling is massive disappointment that we’ve lost the game against an opponent we shouldn’t, if we do the things right. If you don’t approach it in the right way once you cross the white line this is the end result.”
The Ammies have a trip to Maidstone United in a Buildbase FA Trophy Third Round replay on Tuesday night before hosting Dover Athletic at The Peninsula Stadium next Saturday.