HALSTEAD Town played out a 3-3 draw with FC Clacton in the Essex Senior League, writes KEN GILLIARD.

Only a superb save from Humbugs goalkeeper Jack Cherry denied prolific front man Mehki McKenzie a headed opener early on and moments later, desperate blocking in the box prevented the visitors taking the lead.

The Seasiders went ahead after seven minutes when Teddy Collis collected the ball on the left wing, ran with it and from the corner of the box fired into the opposite bottom corner.

Sonny Dutton was denied by onrushing Seasiders goalkeeper Luke Avenell, who made a great save to keep his side ahead.

But Halstead equalised on 24 minutes when Older's excellent cross was met in the middle by Gilbert and he headed back across the keeper and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

Clacton responded well and had a spell of pressure during which Halstead almost presented McKenzie with a goal however a last-ditch block prevented him from taking advantage of the error.

Halstead goalkeeper Jack Cherry, representing the Humbugs for the 200th time, saved his side, clawing one away to safety and saving at full length from Collis and recovering to save the rebound from Chris Ribchester.

Halstead nearly pulled off a training ground routine with a low corner to near post flicked on by Gilbert but Older, under pressure, fired over.

The emotions ran high moments later as Gilbert and Jenson Mulqueen tussled and it ended with Gilbert going into the book along for the challenge and Avenell for his reaction.

Clacton rattled the bottom of a post with the Halstead defence waiting for the assistant’s flag which was not forthcoming, as the teams went in on level terms.

Halstead had the ball in the net in the opening minute of the second half but Jake Brown was flagged offside as he stabbed home the loose ball, following a Gilbert blocked effort.

However, only a series of blocks prevented Clacton scoring in the opening five minutes and then Cherry palmed away a Michael Okafor header, to keep the scores level.

Jake Clowsley was the next Clacton player to be denied by Cherry as he swivelled and shot but the keeper blocked his effort superbly.

FC Clacton couldn’t make it pay and on 56 minutes found themselves behind as Alfie Cleal's superb midfield block saw the ball ricochet into the path of Funbi and he coolly slotted passed Avenall.

Just beyond the hour mark Halstead got themselves further in front with Gilbert playing a defence-splitting ball and Older holding off the defender and slamming past the Seasiders keeper to make it 3-1.

The game was back in the balance again on 76 minutes as Teddy Collis turned several defenders inside out until he finally dispatched the ball right footed into the bottom corner.

It set up an exciting last quarter of an hour and Clacton fired in high balls to the hosts' box at any opportunity, hoping one of their big men could get on the end of it.

Halstead substitute Harry Pinkney almost put the game beyond the visitors as he broke quickly but his effort came back off the underneath of the bar and from the follow-up cross back, he could not direct his header on target.

But on 90 minutes, FC Clacton rescued a point when McKenzie headed home from a corner at the back post to equalise.

The Seasiders had the momentum but despite looking dangerous, didn’t worry Cherry in the additional ten minutes played, as the spoils were shared.