Kettering Town went down 2-1 to Braintree at the Cressing Road Stadium in an entertaining match which saw the Poppies reduced to nine men.
Braintree started the game the better with Britt Assombalong breaking the offside trap but only to be stopped by Laurie Walker who cleared the ball from in front of him.
Minutes later Kenny Davis picked up the ball on the edge of the area and curled a shot low which Walker got down well to knock the ball round the post.
Kettering’s first chance came on seven minutes when Danny Mills showed his skills and took the ball past two players before being halted by a good challenge in the penalty area.
But on the quarter hour mark Braintree broke the deadlock after the referee awarded a penalty for a handball by Sol Davis.
The captain was lucky to stay on the field after he used his hand on the goal line to stop a shot from Sean Marks hitting the back of the net.
Ben Wright stepped up and sent Walker the wrong way with a well-taken penalty in the bottom right hand corner.
Kettering responded positively and from a free kick from Lewis Hornby Aman Verma found himself with space to lash the ball against post.
But disaster struck on 28 minutes when Jerel Ifil was sent off for putting a hand in the face of Marks following a challenge. A straight red card was the outcome.
Braintree stepped up the pressure and Kettering only had Walker to thank for keeping the score at 1-nil.
First he did well to punch a dangerous cross away before making a superb double save to stop Marks who was through on goal but took too much time.
The pressure did not ease and just before the interval Jai Reason played a good ball in to the area which Marks jumped up for with the goalkeeper and won, sending it into the far right corner.
The second half started as the first ended with Braintree on the front foot and pushing possession into deep Kettering’s half.
Walker came to the rescue again when he saved from close-range from Marks after Brad Quinton sent in a cross.
Soon after Walker again saved Kettering this time tipping a header from Marks onto the bar and then scooping up the ball as it dropped on the goal line.
Out of nowhere Kettering pulled a goal back on the hour mark.
Braintree failed to clear a free-kick from Phil Ifil and Djoumin Sangare picked up the ball on the edge of the area and sent a low drive into the bottom left-hand corner.
From the restart Braintree continued their dominance and nearly regained the two-goal advantage when an unmarked Marks headed just wide.
And with 15minutes to go Pat Noubissie was sent off harshly for clipping the toes of Matt Paine after he released the ball.
With nine men Kettering struggled to compete and Braintree saw out the game and maybe should have scored more with good chances for Marks and substitute Brendan Kiernan.
Braintree: McDonald, Thomas, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, Reason, Davis, Marks, Wright (sub Kiernan 78 mins), Assombalonga, Quinton, Wells. Subs not used: Symons, O’Connor, Jones, Pooley.
Poppies: Walker, P Ifil, Davis, Sangare, J Ifil, Verma, Kelly 5 (sub Noubissie 38 mins), Ralth, Mills, Bridges, Hornby. Subs not used: Ford, Pryor, Jones.