HALSTEAD Town played out an entertaining 0-0 home draw with Little Oakley in their second Essex Senior League game of the season, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The encounter was a physical one, with both sides pressing although chances were few and far between in front of a crowd of 254, at Milbank Stadium.

Ade Cant headed wide for Oakley while at the other end, Matt Travell’s effort was blocked as it left his foot.

Kane Gilbert's 30-yard effort then almost caught out Acorns keeper Josh Fowler, who managed to back peddle and hold onto the ball.

Oakley almost broke the deadlock on 25 minutes as Liam Riley's curling effort was turned round the post by Halstead keeper Jack Cherry.

But Fowler was called into action next, at the other end, as Older's fierce volley needed to be turned over the bar.

Papple was the next to threaten with Cherry's strong hand keeping the ball out, before Older had Fowler at full stretch with a curling effort from 25 yards.

Halstead finally got the ball in the net as Gilbert challenged the keeper and both missed the ball, with Palmer tucking the ball home.

However, the referee blew for a foul, much to the home crowd's consternation.

An absorbing first half finished goal-less despite plenty of effort from both sides.

Gilbert’s 25-yard effort evaded the far post for Halstead early in the second half with Oakley replying immediately with Adie Cant unleashing a thunderbolt which Cherry tipped over.

Oakley were applying some pressure and only a goalmouth scramble saved Halstead.

But they then hit the Acorns on the break with Gilbert bursting through but denied by the onrushing Fowler.

Older's shot could only be carried out for a corner by Fowler and at the other end, Harry Mann fired in a fierce effort which Cherry turned away to safety.

It came at a time when the Acorns were enjoying a decent period and forced a couple of corners, although the hosts were still looking dangerous on the break.

Halstead's substitute debutant Sonny Dutton almost had an immediate impact as he got down the right but Gilbert was just beaten to the ball by keeper Fowler.

Substitute Ade Funbi's effort was then cleared by Jack Sibbons, as both sides hunted for a winner.

Fowler had to be on his toes to prevent an own goal after the ball came off a Oakley defender and almost looped over him but he managed to grab it out of the air as he back pedalled.

Halstead went down to ten men late on when Simon-Parsons was sinbinned. As the clock ticked down, Lumley had a run at the home defence and after riding a challenge from Gilbert, was finally halted by Robbie Bennett's great tackle as the spoils were shared.