HALSTEAD Town suffered a fifth successive defeat after losing 3-2 at FC Clacton in the Essex Senior League, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Humbugs made several changes from the midweek mauling at Buckhurst Hill.

Goalkeeper Jordan Crisell made his debut for Halstead and was joined in the starting eleven by Jordan Palmer, Adam Hampson, Matt Travell and, making his return to the club, Joel Older.

The first chance of the game went to Halstead as an Alfie Cleal throw into the box found Jordan Blackwell, but his half volley was wide of the mark.

Clacton responded well but Rueben Cowler’s effort was straight at debutant Crisell and he held well.

The opening goal came with just 11 minutes on the clock and went to the hosts when a Cowler cross was met by the head of Jake Clowsley and went into the net via Humbugs defender Hardy.

This seemed to spur Halstead and for the remainder of the half they were the better side and certainly created more chances.

In a ten-minute spell either side of the half hour mark they created no less than four decent chances but weren’t able to capitalise on their pressure.

A great free-kick delivery from Blackwell found Palmer on the end of it, but he simply didn’t get enough purchase on it.

Within minutes Older and Hampson both had shots blocked as things got frenetic in the home box.

A better chance was on the way as Cleal’s cross found Older but he couldn’t get enough behind the ball to force it home.

Older then did get a fine effort on target but this time he saw Luke Avenall, in the home goal, pull off a great save.

Clacton then had a period where they had the upper hand and a ball over the top for Mehki McKenzie saw him drag his effort wide and moments later Crisell pulled off a great save to keep the Halstead deficit to one.

The half-time whistle went with the Humbugs a goal adrift when on balance of play, nobody would have complained if they had gone in leading.

The second half got off to a fast start with Halstead immediately levelling when Cleal struck home a superb effort.

However, parity didn’t last long as the hosts regained the lead within a few minutes when McKenzie played in a superb cross and Cowler finished well.

Halstead almost made it three goals in the opening five minutes of the half when Clacton failed to clear their lines but Palmer’s shot from the edge of the box was straight at Avenall.

The visitors then rode their luck a little as Jack Johnson shot wide from inside the box after Crisall had parried away an effort, the home sides forward should have done better.

It was the hosts turn to threaten and the experienced Chris Ribchester got on the eed of a free kick but his effort lacked power.

However, the hosts were then presented with a chance to add to their tally as Travell conceded a penalty and saw yellow for his troubles.

McKenzie made no mistake from the spot, getting his second of the game and Clacton’s third.

But with ten minutes remaining there was a chink of light for Halstead, as the hosts conceded a penalty.

Jordan Blackwell made no mistake from the spot, sending Avenall the wrong way.

The wave of Halstead pressure for the final minutes didn’t materialise though as Clacton controlled the final minutes.

Indeed, they had the better chances with both Robbie Bennett and Crisell responsible for blocks which prevented the hosts getting a fourth.

Nevertheless, this was a significantly better performance from the Humbugs and they made the journey home knowing they deserved at least a point but knowing they would have a chance next week to avenge the defeat next week when they take on Clacton, in the reverse fixture.