HALSTEAD Town bowed out of the FA Cup at the extra preliminary round stage after losing 4-1 at home to Romford, writes KEN GILLIARD.

An extremely well-observed minute silence was held following the recent death of the well-respected and liked Halstead president Michael Gage, who had been part of the club in various roles for many years.

The two sides came into the match both unbeaten from their opening two league games of the season and would have been hoping that the continuous rain wouldn’t put a dampener on their fine starts to the campaign.

Halstead’s starting XI contained two changes from their midweek game, with Joe Vogler returning to midfield and Sonny Dutton making his first start upfront.

Halstead Gazette:

It was Romford who made the quick start as Harrison Georgiou finished clinically after he got on the end of a cross from Jayden Silcott-Brown, who had broken down the right wing at speed in the second minute.

Romford were on top in the early stages and goalkeeper Jack Cherry needed to be alert on a couple of occasions, as Boro looked to extend their advantage.

Halstead were struggling to get a foothold in the game but Joel Older's good run and cross almost caught out the visiting defence.

Soon after, a debatable handball decision on the edge of the box provided a good opportunity for Boro to extend their lead, only for Cherry to beat away Kris Newby’s fierce drive.

Halstead Gazette:

Boro forward Finlay Dorrell blazed over on the volley when well placed, while Lee Hursit held off a defender but blasted over the bar.

The half hour mark saw controversy as an Older corner was headed against his own post by a visiting defender and the rebound eventually fell to Matt Travell, who smashed it home.

However, the home fans joy was quickly extinguished as the referee blew for a foul that he had seen.

It sparked a better period for the hosts and they almost equalised when Kane Gilbert whipped a cross into the box and the keeper was stranded on his line, but no forward was able to apply the finishing touch.

Halstead Gazette:

A well-placed Alfie Cleal headed wide and Older let fly with his right foot after a jinking run but keeper Jake Anderson saved at full stretch.

The half-time whistle when Dutton beat the defender and keeper to the ball and his goalbound effort was cleared off the line by Junior Luke.

But a strong period for Halstead was then turned on its head as Boro got their second of the game following a corner and Michael Turner scrambled in at the far post.

The half-time whistle went with the hosts deflated by the late goal after working hard to get themselves back into the match.

Halstead had a better start to the second period and Dutton's cross cum shot was frantically clawed over the bar by Anderson in the first couple of minutes of the restart.

Halstead Gazette:

However, Romford still posed a threat and only Robbie Bennett's great saving tackle prevented Dorrell from breaking the Halstead backline.

Luke’s effort hit the outside of a post for Romford while at the other end, the unmarked Cleal slashed over.

But Romford made it 3-0 through Georgiou who slammed home from the corner of the six-yard box for his second of the game, after the ball had struck a post.

Romford were in the ascendancy again now and on 68 minutes they added a fourth as Dorrell pulled the ball out of the air and let fly from 25 yards, giving Cherry no chance.

Halstead Gazette:

Halstead had a glimmer of hope as Gilbert’s quick thinking, from a free-kick, played in Ryan Carter who was felled in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.

Gilbert took the spot-kick himself and fired into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to reduce the arrears, with 15 minutes left on the clock.

Halstead finished strongly who should have added another but substitute Bruno Gomes contrived to out his effort wide, as the hosts were beaten.