HALSTEAD Town manager Mark McLean feels his team have rediscovered the form they had in a profitable post-Christmas period as they look to step up their bid for Thurlow Nunn League division one south promotion.

An impressive 5-1 victory against Holland FC last weekend took the Humbugs back into the top two in the table and they will be hoping to make it three wins in a row when they head to Lopes Tavares on Saturday.

McLean said his team's display against Holland showed they were back to the levels they were at in January before a three-week break in action brought an unwanted hiatus where they lost momentum and ended up losing to Hackney Wick in their first game back.

"We are definitely back," said the Halstead boss.

"I believe that it was the break that hurt us against Hackney Wick as there were things in that game that looked so different from what we'd been like before it. "But we have corrected that and we are now back to how we were before the break.

"There is real talent there in our side and if we have the belief to match it then I can only see good things.

"The lads are looking confident and are knuckling down and getting on with it.

"It is very good to see.

"Sometimes when you have a side full of youthfulness, you can get naivety, but we are not a side that is lop-sided in terms of youth and we now have a nice balance.

"We have experience from players like Garry Burdett, Jake Brown, Connel Dunlop and Nick Miller and these guys mirror up any youthfulness that we may have and give us balance.

"I don't think we look comfortable because the league is so tight, but we are delivering now."

Halstead head to Lopes Tavares, who they beat 2-0 at home two weeks ago, on Saturday and will be boosted by the return of skipper Jake Brown, who has now completed a three-match suspension.

His red card came in the last game - against Little Oakley - before the three-week break, so Brown has not seen action since February 2, but McLean said his captain would be ready to step straight back in.

He said: "I have felt for Jake because I didn't feel that he deserved to be sent off.

"He got punished harshly, but has been exemplary in the way he has conducted himself since.

"He is a fit boy and he has trained well while he's been out, so I don't think his fitness will be an issue.

"He may feel the pace in the latter part of a game after being out, but Jake has hauled the team through games at certain times and the team will help him through this one if he needs it.

"He will be full of adrenalin because he just wants to play and if anything, we may have to keep a lid on that and we'll keep him focused."