Halstead Town’s defensive shape was the key to their success at Humber Doucey Lane last weekend, according to manager Mark Benterman.

Having seen his team ship an average of three goals a game during a recent three-match losing run in Thurlow Nunn League division one, Benterman was keen for them to tighten up their formation.

So he has been delighted to see back-to-back clean sheets as they followed a 2-0 win at Cornard United with a 0-0 stalemate at promotion rivals Ipswich Wanderers on Saturday.

Benterman said: “The defensive shape is the key for us at the moment.

“We had let too many goals in during those three games we lost, but we’ve been spot on in the last two.

“We’ve been limiting teams to one or two shots a game and that’s fantastic.

“All we need to do is be a bit sharper up front.

“You saw what Brad (Fleming) can offer in a game in that respect and I think he’s going to be excellent for us.

“He was at Colchester as a young kid, then had time at Burnham and in Heybridge’s first-team, but he was playing at Lawford Lads in the Border League.

“Their loss is our gain and you could see he looked very lively up front.

“He works very hard and he’ll get some goals for us this year.

“He also holds the ball up very well and takes the pressure off the back four.

“But we need to be shutting teams out.

“If you don’t concede, you’re going to be coming away with at least a point and that’ll be three if you can nick one at the other end.

“We could have upped the tempo in the second half at Ipswich but we were under the cosh with the weather.

“It became hard to get out and the ball kept coming back at us.

“But we were happy to take a point.

“There is still a long way to go, but we’re closer to my aim of a top six finish.

“The club said to me at the start of the season to better what was achieved last year.

“They got 47 points then and we’re on 45 now.

“If we can get past last year’s points then we know we’re going in the right direction, but as a manager, I’m looking for more.

“I’ve reset the bar and said to the players that I want top six.

“If we do that then we can push on next year.

“It has come to us a bit quicker than we thought but we are moving forward with how I want us to play.

“We had a bit of a blip, but we’ve come back and our defensive shape is back there now.

“We will push on and I believe we’ll be up there at the end of the season.

“There will be other teams who have a blip and we will hopefully pounce on them when they come.”

See this week's paper for more reaction to the win at Ipswich and all the latest news from Halstead Town.