CHIPPENHAM Town chief Mark Collier was left to rue his side’s failure to take a two-goal cushion into half-time as they fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Braintree Town in National League South on Saturday.

Curtis McDonald gave the Bluebirds an early lead at Hardenhuish Park, although chances to pull further clear before the break were passed up.

Braintree rallied after the break but Chippenham keeper Will Puddy saved a penalty before Chris Zebroski saw a second goal for the hosts chalked off for offside.

The visitors continued to up the ante and restored parity on the hour through Tobi Coker before they snatched all three points in the dying embers as Alfie Cerulli struck to inflict heartbreak on Collier’s side.

A frustrated Collier said: “I think there was something there for us from the game.

“Our first-half performance was very good. We created three or four very good chances but Braintree defended well, so credit to them for that.

“Our approach play was good and we got people forward, but we just couldn’t find that all important second goal.

“Braintree came out in the second half and got on the front foot and certainly had the better of things, although we did have a second goal ruled disallowed and had what looked a decent penalty shout turned down as well.

“I am disappointed for the players as I thought we deserved to get something from the game, even though our second-half performance wasn’t at the same standard as it was in the first half.

“At this level you have to perform for 70 to 80 minutes otherwise you will get found out. That’s possibly what happened against a decent side.”

The defeat was Chippenham’s third in the league from eight games this season, with the Bluebirds having also registered two wins and three draws.

All three of their defeats have come by a single goal, so Collier remains upbeat over his side’s competitiveness in the second tier of non-league football.

“At the start of the season, I asked for us to be competitive in every game and we have certainly been that through the first eight games,” said Collier.

“We don’t need to fear anyone but a result like Saturday’s is just a reminder of what a tough league we are in.

“Even in the games we have lost, we haven’t been blown away by anybody.

“We have been solid defensively, even though we have been without Will Richards – who is probably one of the premier central defenders in the division – because of injury.”