HALSTEAD Town fell to a 2-1 defeat at Barkingside in their latest Thurlow Nunn League first division south match, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Humbugs made the trip to Metropolitan Essex looking to complete a double for the season against mid-table Barkingside, following their 5-0 success in the reverse fixture.

Halstead made several changes, with Kendle between the sticks in place of the suspended Cherry and a return to the starting line-up for Gary Burdett.

It was the home side who made the stronger start, and they were very much putting their recent poor run of form behind them.

They took the lead on 14 minutes and added a second to their tally within five minutes, to hold a very comfortable lead.

It was not until the half hour had passed that Halstead mustered their first shot on the home goal, Blackwell’s effort being comfortably saved by home keeper Chebesi.

This did at least provide the visitors with some momentum, and they gained some control of the game leading up to the break and twice Hampson threatened to reduce the arrears.

His first effort went wide and the second, when in a great position did similar.

It meant that the hosts enjoyed their half-time cuppa in front by two goals.

Halstead knowing they needed to improve, saw themselves reduced to ten within seven minutes of the start of the second period, as were the hosts.

Thomas saw red for apparently stamping on an opposition player although it seems only to be seen by the assistant, who was some way from the incident.

The Barkingside player also receiving his marching orders for grabbing Thomas around the throat, so both sides were one short.

With both sides down to ten men it was Halstead who were the more positive and Burdett almost reduced the arrears when his long-range effort was deflected just wide.

Two minutes later, and with 20 minutes still on the clock, Halstead did pull one back when the referee awarded a penalty and Palmer converted.

The momentum was now with the Humbugs and Blackwell saw his effort comeback of the bar, followed by a Poku volley going narrowly wide.

It was all Halstead who were pushing for the equaliser and twice in as many minutes the hosts clear off their line, the first from another Hampson effort.

Halstead resorted to putting Burdett up front as they laid siege on the home goal and Blackwell and Travers both had efforts which went close.

Barkingside rode their luck to claim the three points and Halstead will reflect on a very poor opening half an hour which leaves them still in a play-off position but with all around them closing the gap.

They would have travelled home very disappointed and knowing they needed to respond in their next match against May and Baker, a side just outside the play-off places.

Halstead: Kendle , Strong, Burdett, Miller, Schelvis, Thomas, Dallinger, Palmer, Poku, Blackwell, Hampson. Subs: Walker, Travers, Cleal.