MALDON and Tiptree fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat by Brentwood Town at Park Drive, with the visitors leapfrogging the Jammers into sixth place in the process, writes LEE WITNEY.

There was a single change to the line-up from the win at Ipswich with Chris Gregan replacing Alfie Mason.

Meanwhile, Shane Temple continued up front alongside George Smith in place of Louis Britton, whose permanent arrival from National League North side Chorley was announced shortly before kick-off. Britton however, was unavailable through injury.

The away started the brighter of the two teams and in the opening minute, Mekhi McKenzie headed wide after latching onto a cross to fire an early warning across the Maldon bows.

McKenzie thought he’d opened the scoring after nine minutes, but he was denied by the assistant’s flag and the game remained goalless.

Maldon had dodged a bullet and made the most of it just four minutes later when George Smith opened the scoring in emphatic fashion.

It was a goal that was created from a brilliant bit of sweeper keeping from Luca Collins, who cut out a long ball some 30 yards from goal before chesting the ball down and playing a pass to Terrell Egbri who seemed to be offside but was waved on by the assistant on the right hand side.

He played the ball across to Smith on the edge of the box who smashed it past Minter in the Brentwood goal to give the Jammers the lead.

Brentwood quickly regained their composure and might have had an equaliser seven minutes later through George Sykes, but he got the ball stuck under his feet after he was found at the back post by Andrew Freeman.

Three minutes later the game was level as Maldon failed to deal with a corner. A curling effort from ex-Jammer Shad Ngandu was pushed wide by Collins.

The resulting corner was swung in and allowed to bounce around before being tapped home by McKenzie.

The visitors were nearly ahead on the half hour mark, but McKenzie was denied a second by a great save from Collins from point blank range.

As the first half wore on, the game became stretched and with ten minutes of the half left, Smith did fantastically well to shrug his defender off the ball and break down the right hand side before playing the ball to Matt Yates.

Yates’ ball in found Temple in the middle whose effort was blocked. The rebound was picked up by Egbri but he could only shoot wide.

Moments later, Brentwood had appeals for a penalty waved away by the referee. The ball broke loose for Freeman but his shot was cleared off the line by Lewis Jaggs.

A fierce drive from the edge of the box that cleared Minter’s crossbar by a whisker was the last action in an even but otherwise scrappy first half.

Maldon quickly set about their opponents and their high pressing forced a turnover but Egbri’s shot was deflected wide.

Brentwood took the lead with 54 minutes played when Jonathan Nzengo was given the freedom of Park Drive and allowed to pick his spot from distance.

He made Maldon pay as he finished superbly through a crowd of bodies past the unsighted Collins.

That goal gave the visitors a real boost and they had the better of the game for the next 15 minutes or so and nearly added a third through George Sykes, but his shot was cleared off the line by Matt Yates at the far post.

Maldon did manage the odd foray forward, Louie Remi firing into the side netting at the near post with 20 minutes to play.

With 15 minutes left however, Brentwood sealed the points as McKenzie finished from close range after being played in by Sykes to make it 3-1.

On the rare occasions Maldon were allowed to play their game, they looked threatening and with ten minutes left, put together arguably their best passage play of the match.

A thread through a needle-like ball from Oni out to Remi on the left hand set the Maldon man away.

His cross in from the left hand side found Smith, but the in-form marksman could only fire wide.

A contentious red card for Smith on 86 minutes summed up a frustrating afternoon all round for the Jammers as they slipped to defeat and fell three points behind Basildon United in the final play-off spot ahead of a visit there this Saturday.