HARRIERS endured a miserable trip to Essex as they came back empty-handed after a 2-0 defeat at Braintree Town made it back-to-back defeats on the road.

A goal in each half for the home side saw them condemn the visitors to a second defeat of the campaign and continue away woes, boss Gary Whild admitting the day's second goal was crucial.

"We deserved maybe to get a goal and get something out of the game but their second goal, for me, has killed us a little bit," he commented.

"It was too easy and there was no sign of that in the first five or six games when we were looking solid at the back.

"The guy has stooped down in our six yard box and that's unacceptable."

Keen to get a response after a disappointing defeat at Southport earlier in the week, Whild made two changes to his starting line-up.

Perhaps surprisingly, he sent striker Craig Reid to the substitutes' bench after eight successive starts, Nathan Blissett coming in to replace him along with midfield man Aman Verma who moved back in to the line-up in place of Jamie Grimes.

It was Blissett's strike partner, Reece Styche, who kept his place in the 11 and etched out the first chance of the game with less than six minutes on the clock as he edged an effort narrowly wide of the foot of the far post after chasing down a lost cause.

The home side, however, took the lead shortly after the quarter-hour mark and it was an effort that caught everyone by surprise as James Mulley's attempted shot across goal gathered pace with the wind and continued to rise, all the way past the defenders and goalkeeper Danny Lewis and into the very top of the net.

Nick Hamann, in the home goal, did superbly to come and claim a Harriers free-kick off the head of Blissett past the half-way point of the half, Braintree staying in amongst the best of the chances just short of the half-hour mark when Jordan Cox headed over from close range.

Only then did Harriers really force themselves into the game and, in the final ten minutes of the half they struck the woodwork and forced a fine save.

First, Styche and Jack Byrne had shots blocked as pressure began to build before Kyle Storer was at the point of the attack and a neat passing move, his shot clipping the post and bouncing away.

Then, right on the stroke of half time, Byrne was on hand to meet Johnson's excellent cross with a first-time shot that Hamann did superbly to stop with his legs.

Harriers will have wanted to have built on that strong finish but within three minutes of the restart they were left with a real mountain to climb as a second goal for the hosts saw skipper Kenny Davis finish simply at the far post after being left unattended at the far post.

Around the hour mark, with Michael Gash and Ahmed Obeng on from the bench for Harriers, both goalkeepers got a feel for the ball through Johnson's low cross at one end and Michael Bakare's shot at the other.

Harriers did keep an interest in front of goal and inside the last 20 minutes as Dunkley's excellent header from a corner sailed just over before Obeng's attempt to stab in a stray ball at the far post was met yet again by Hamann's strong reactions.

Just after, a Davis foul on Obeng saw the home skipper sent for an early bath courtesy of a second booking, Nicholson curling the resultant free-kick towards goal as Hamann tipped it excellently on to the post.

Obeng was on hand to pounce on a rare mistake from Hamann in injury time as the custodian spilled a cross - the wide-man spun quickly on the spot and turned an effort towards goal but with Hamann beaten the post again came to his rescue.

Braintree: Hamann, Peters, Habergham, Brundle, Massey, Mulley, Davis, Sparks (Smith 76), Isaac, Akinola (Case 90), Cox (Bakare 55). Subs not used: Walker, Pentney. Harriers: Lewis, Hodgkiss, Dunkley, Gowling, Nicholson, Byrne, Verma (Obeng 62), Storer, Johnson, Blissett (Gash 56), Styche (Reid 73). Subs not used: Grimes, Singh. Attendance: 751 Referee: Justin Amey