The crucial moment of the game came when substitute Francis Amartey – who made a big impact after replacing Ben Harris in the 71st minute – bamboozled the Braintree defence and worked space for a shot which the excellent Michael Johnson could only parry into Lench’s path, and the Slough playmaker could not miss.
The result lifts the Rebels back into second place ahead of a testing few weeks in which they will travel to Havant & Waterlooville on Wednesday night and play top-of-the-table Wealdstone twice in the space of seven days, on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Slough were on the front foot almost from the off, and with less than four minutes played, Warren Harris could have done better than head over the bar from a Max Worsfold cross.
Just a minute later, Johnson got down well to tip away a shot from Lench – the first of several important stops the former Hitchin Town keeper would go on to make.
Johnson was there to save Braintree again on 19 minutes as he blocked Ben Harris’s strike, after the Slough forward had beautifully controlled a long pass forward from George Wells.
Slough piled on the pressure at times, and Johnson fielded a long-range effort from Wells before Sam Togwell put a header wide of the far post with amber-shirted players queuing up to score.
On the stroke of half time, Johnson again flew across his goal to tip a Mark Nisbet header past the post from the excellent Scott Davies’s long free kick.
The second half started in much the same vein, and Ben Harris was unlucky to see a shot rebound back off a post after Sam Togwell had headed a long throw back into the danger area.
Slough might have been forgiven for thinking this was not going to be their day – Johnson saved again from Guy Hollis and later from Warren Harris, who got in a half-volley after another long throw had made its way across the Braintree penalty area.
Braintree had offered little by way of an attacking threat in the game, and in a rare attack, Daniel Matsuzaka headed a corner kick well wide.
Lench was influential once again, linking up well with Warren Harris before flashing a cross-shot agonisingly wide of the far post on 74 minutes.
Yet again the Rebels went close five minutes later, but Wells was unable to get the required contact on a corner from Worsfold as he contested the ball with Johnson.
Then on 81 minutes came possibly the home side’s clearest chance to that point. Amartey chipped in a cross on his left foot and Warren Harris rose unchallenged, but could only head over the bar from six yards.
Then, two minutes later Amartey ran on to a flick from Dan Roberts and showed good footwork to move into the penalty area before aiming for the far post. Johnson saved well, but Lench was on hand to finally break the deadlock from three yards out and give Slough a lead which they never looked likely to lose.
Image: Philip Benton
Braintree Town Line up
Michael Johnson, Jack James, Cameron Green, Christian Frimpong, Michael Clark (c), Daniel Matsuzaka, Yoav Sade Lichtenfeld, Lucas Kirkpatrick, Dipo Akinyemi, Alfie Cerulli, Charley Barker. Substitutes: Rhys Murrell-Williamson, Frankie Stone, Isaac Skubich, Cole Adeyinko, Jake Hutchings.