HALSTEAD Town lost 4-2 at Benfleet to suffer their fourth away defeat of the Thurlow Nunn League first division south season, writes KEN GILLIARD.

Halstead went ahead in the seventh minute when Alfie Cleal fired into the bottom right-hand corner from 20 yards, after a good combination between Chris Harris and Jordan Blackwell.

But the lead lasted just ten minutes as Halstead conceded possession and ultimately their lead.

They gave the ball away on the halfway line which led to a speculative effort from Billy Bonham-Dare which flew into the visitors' net.

And Halstead fell behind on 37 minutes when they conceded what can only be described as freakish goal.

A hard low cross from the right deflected off Nick Miller and hit his own crossbar before hitting keeper Jack Cherry on its way down and crossing the line.

It gave the hosts a 2-1 advantage in conditions which were getting more difficult by the minute, as the rain continued to fall.

Harris’s effort flew just over before half-time, as the Humbugs went in at the break trailing.

Halstead came out the stronger in the second half and on 55 minutes, Harris pinched the ball off a defender and went clean through on goal.

But the Benfleet keeper was alert to the danger and claimed the ball and with it, stopped what appeared a certain goal.

Within minutes the Humbugs should have equalised when the normally reliable Brown missed a great chance, an equaliser which Halstead’s superiority at the time deserved.

But Halstead did level as yet another foray from Harris saw his shot saved by the host keeper, only for Cleal to gratefully bagged his second of the game.

Harris's header was just too high after he leapt to reach Hampson's great cross and Halstead paid the price for not turning superiority into goals.

Benfleet grabbed an 83rd-minute winner when substitute Martin Shave's shot skidded off the turf, leaving Cherry no chance.

Deflated Halstead then conceded again and the 4-2 result didn’t reflect the match and one that the visitors might easily have won, had they taken their chances.