HALSTEAD Town ran out 2-1 winners over neighbours Coggeshall United, in their latest Thurlow Nunn League first division south match, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Humbugs, chastened by their recent defeat at Benfleet, knew that they needed to improve on their away form if they had any chance of getting themselves into promotion reckoning.

The pleasant autumnal evening and The Crops pitch providing the right environment for a classic derby.

And whilst it didn’t quite meet that expectation, Halstead returned home happy having returned to winning ways.

It was a bright opening with Halstead having the majority of possession and the best of the play, but goalscoring opportunities were at a premium.

Halstead started to be more commanding and almost got their reward on 23 minutes when Alfie Cleal, on a good scoring run, almost headed home.

However, he didn’t have to wait long to add to his season’s tally when Hampson and Brown combined, the latter laying the ball into the path of Cleal, and his left foot strike fond the bottom corner.

Halstead continued to have the upper hand and Chris Harris went close with a header but moments later he turned provider.

He rose the highest to head on a Jack Cherry clearance and it went to the feet of Cleal who calmly dispatched into the net, and in doing so meant he had scored a brace for the second game in succession.

The home side didn’t give up and with five minutes of the half remaining they halved Halstead’s advantage with their first real attempt on the visitors' goal.

Halstead failed to clear a corner to the near post and it fell to Mendez, who curled it into the bottom right-hand corner.

The second half lacked any real action as both sides cancelled each other out and it wasn’t until the final ten minutes was there anything of real note to report on.

Firstly, Joe Thomas almost extended the Humbugs advantage as his free kick from the edge of the area was just off target and then the bustling Harris almost pressurised the home defender into putting through his own net.

It was no surprise that with time running out, the hosts started to throw everything at Halstead and in the dying minutes they almost got the equaliser, but the visitors goal stayed intact, although things were a little frenetic.

The frenetic nature included a rash tackle on Ryan Carter for which the Coggeshall player only saw yellow and perhaps on another day it may have been a different colour.

The game ended with the visitors maintaining the one-goal lead and taking a valuable three points back to the Milbanks, knowing it had edged them a little closer to the play off places - although there is still a long way to go.