HALSTEAD Town's Thurlow Nunn League first division south play-off hopes suffered a blow after they lost 2-1 at in-form Harwich and Parkeston, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The first half was a very quiet affair with little goalmouth action in the opening 20 minutes but when the opportunity came, it was the hosts who benefitted.

Jay Eggerich latched onto a ball over the top and lob the advancing Jack Cherry to put Harwich one up.

The rest of the half followed a similar pattern as Halstead struggled to make any real chances and went into the break knowing they needed to come out and perform better if they were to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Halstead made a bright start to the second half and had Jordan Pavett’s first touch been better, he would surely have levelled within two minutes of the restart.

This signalled a period of play where the visitors were on top but had very little to show for it, with Calvin Poku’s shot straight at the keeper the only real effort of note.

Halstead’s day, and maybe season, then got worse as they left Ben Hammond unmarked and his diving header flew passed Cherry to double the hosts' advantage.

Halstead main threat continued to be Poku but even he was off target with his next effort.

Halstead made some attacking substitutions, with Adam Hampson and Alfie Cleal entering the fray and it was Hampson who was hauled down in the box, with three minutes remaining.

Joe Thomas converted the spot-kick to give the hosts a tense final few minutes.

But Harwich held out, leaving Halstead outside the play-off places for the first time since October and very much now the outsiders to claim one of the four spots.

Halstead Town: Jack Cherry, Ryan Taylor, Matt Travell, Garry Burdett (Alfie Cleal), Nick Miller, Joe Thomas, Jordan Blackwell, Louis O’Sullivan (Adam Hampson), Jordan Pavett, Calvin Poku and Jordan Palmer. Subs (not used): Mark Dallinger, Greg Strong.