BRAINTREE Town were beaten 5-3 by Ipswich Town under-23s in a behind-closed-doors pre-season friendly, writes JON WEAVER.

The Iron have played 'behind closed doors' friendlies before at Cressing Road, but never by order.

Government and Football Association requirements prohibited the admission of supporters and Iron's absent fans missed out on an eight-goal thriller.

It had been 175 long days since the team played St Albans City in their previous home game.

In 1975, the Eastern Counties League closed Cressing Road down over safety concerns and the club did not play a home game until mid-October.

Even then, there was only 149 days between home games!

George Borg's team continues to evolve.

Two Stevenage loanees, Jamie Fielding and Liam Smyth, started the game against Ipswich.

Smyth was returning to the club where he had a successful loan spell last season.

On the bench for the first time were Tottenham's loanee goalkeeper Jacper Kurylowicz, and former Walsall and Blackpool midfielder Michael Cain.

Ipswich took an eighth-minute lead, after which there were opportunities spurned at both ends before the visitors extended their lead after 37 minutes with a great top corner finish from 25 yards.

Almost immediately, Smyth got Braintree back in the game with a low drive from 20 yards out.

But Ipswich stepped up a gear and were allowed too much time in the penalty area, making the score 3-1 at the break.

Nine minutes into the second half it was 4-1, but to their credit Braintree kept plugging away.

Smyth's surging runs were a feature of last season, and Iron fans will be looking forward to plenty more.

On 62 minutes he broke forward at pace and unleashed a powerful shot which was blocked.

The rebound fell kindly for Romario Dunne who side-footed into the net from 12 yards out.

It was his fifth goal in pre-season, and he has now scored in four successive friendlies.

The last Iron player to do that was Leon Gutzmore, in 2000.

Kurylowicz was between the posts by the time Ipswich completed their scoring with a fifth.

Iron weren't finished though. Dunne's shot from wide on the right was heading wide with four minutes to go when Seye Okunlola slid in to divert the ball home.