HALSTEAD Town's play-off hopes suffered a blow when they lost 3-0 at Newbury Forest in their latest Thurlow Nunn League first division south match, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Humbugs will reflect on a poor performance in a match where they never really got going.

And if they are to maintain a play-off push, they are going to have to be considerably better next time out when they take on fellow promotion hopefuls Burnham.

Halstead were on the road for the third game in succession and were looking to complete a hat-trick of victories, winning their previous two convincingly.

However, they took on an unpredictable Newbury Forest side who went into the match on the back of a victory on the road, having beaten Sudbury last time out.

It was Halstead who dominated the ball and the play in the early stages, but they couldn’t turn possession into chances.

They were made to pay for not taking advantage when, on 21 minutes, Newbury Forest broke.

With the Halstead defence missing tackles, the centre-forward was through one on one with goalkeeper Jack Cherry and the striker made no mistake.

Within minutes, Halstead had their best chance of the game to that point when Kane Gilbert’s header was just the wrong side of the upright.

But that was to be their one and only threat on the home goal during the first 45 minutes.

The half-time whistle went with the hosts one goal to the good but having created nothing else.

However, the Humbugs knew that would have to improve if they were to get back into the contest.

The second-half opening exchanges mirrored those of the first half and Halstead were lacking in opportunities, despite having an effort disallowed by the assistant’s flag on the hour mark.

The hosts were growing in confidence and shortly after the Halstead disallowed effort, they added to their one-goal advantage.

The visitors' defence was split by a forward ball and the onrushing Cherry was adjudged to have bought down the forward, and the resultant penalty ended in the back of the Humbugs net.

It was now the home side who were the more dominant and Cherry was forced to make a couple of excellent saves and Halstead were restricted to hitting them on the break.

Humbugs went close when a defender almost turned into his own net and Jordan Pavett hit a post.

But Newbury Forest completed the scoring with a third goal, to finish comfortable winners.