HALSTEAD Town thrashed Cornard United 5-0 in their Thurlow Nunn League first division south clash, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Essex-Suffolk derby took place after both sides had much needed and confidence-boosting wins on the previous Saturday.

Both line-ups had a similar look to their previous matches with the hosts keeping their changes to a minimum, the return of Chris Harris to lead the attack being the only change.

The match got underway in good conditions, with the pitch providing a great playing surface.

But despite those victories at the weekend both sides looked a little nervy with neither able to get a foothold in the game.

The visitors had the edge in the opening ten minutes and clearly had an escape route via the speedsters down the flanks.

But they weren’t able to make keeper Jack Cherry make a save, although both Banner and Gardiner had efforts.

The game then switched in favour of the hosts around the ten-minute mark when the visitors' goal came under siege for a short period.

The Cornard keeper Watson stood firm as he repelled efforts from both Harris and Adam Hampson, but the stopper blotted his copybook just a few minutes later when he could only deflect Jordan Blackwell’s low cross into the path of Harris, who tapped in to put the Humbugs one up.

It was Blackwell down the right who was leading the Ard’s a merry dance and they seemed to lose their heads a little when he was unceremoniously hauled down in the box by Collins and the referee pointed immediately to the spot.

Blackwell stepped up but Watson redeemed himself and stuck out a big right hand and pushed the ball to safety.

This seemed to spark the visitors who again looked to present a threat and they had a short spell where they held the ball in the midfield but on 28 minutes they suffered another blow as Halstead extended their lead.

Blackwell again fouled and from the resulting free-kick Jake Brown ghosted in to glance home.

This gave Halstead a 2-0 advantage, but the visitors were certainly not out of the match and the remainder of the half was even with many in the crowd still believing the extra security of a third may be needed.

The opening to the second half replicated that of the first with both sides struggling to get control and if anything, the visitors for the first ten minutes were again looking slightly the more threatening.

As in the first half Halstead slowly began to get in the ascendancy with both Blackwell and Matt Travell getting down the flanks and the home back line, superbly marshalled by Jack Schelvis, repelled everything that Cornard could throw at them.

The goal of the game came when half an hour of the second period had elapsed and Blackwell was involved from start to finish in a move that began in the hosts own half.

It was great interplay between Blackwell, Joe Thomas and Nick Miller as they played their way out of trouble from the middle of their own half and Miller then chipped a ball over the Cornard back line.

The ball bounced up nicely into the path of Blackwell, who had continued his run, and he smashed it passed Watson for a glorious goal from just inside the right-hand corner of the box.

The rest of the game saw Halstead dominate and on 84 minutes they added another excellent goal when a well-timed touch from Harris allowed Hampson to ride through challenges from the visitor’s defenders to score the Humbugs' fourth.

It was reward for Hampson after an earlier effort was ruled out for offside.

There was still time for the hosts to heap further misery on their visitors as a break down the left saw the ball fired into the centre and there, again, was Hampson to touch home and complete a very impressive victory for the Humbugs.

The visitors, despite the score line, more than played their part and the largest crowd of the season for the hosts (255) went home happy.

Halstead: Jack Cherry, Nick Miller, Greg Strong, Jack Schelvis, Dan Jones (Jamie Baker), Joe Thomas, Jordan Blackwell, Jake Brown, Adam Hampson (Tom Cook), Chris Harris (Calvin Poku), Matt Travell.