KANE Gilbert's brace helped Halstead Town claim a 2-1 win at Little Oakley in their latest Essex Senior League game, writes KEN GILLIARD.

Halstead’s Joel Older was prominent in most attacks early on while the Acorns barely raised an attack during these opening stages.

The one shot the hosts had was high and wide and posed no threat to Jack Cherry, in the visitors goal.

Halstead continued to have majority of the play and almost got their noses in front when a corner created confusion in the box but the visitors couldn’t take advantage.

Older then produced a great cross but again the visitors were unable to apply the finishing touch.

The home side were restricted to breakaways and the Humbugs needed to be alert and did well to clear one dangerous attack.

The half hour mark saw a series of free-kicks and corners for Halstead but other than a Robbie Bennet header going narrowly wide, goalkeeper Billy Lawlor was untroubled.

It looked likely that the half would end goalless, especially when, in the final minutes, Alfie Cleal and Matt Coppen combined to set up Jules Simon-Parsons on the edge of the box.

But Simon-Parsons' effort was superbly blocked by a home defender.

There was to be one last chance as the game went into additional time at the end of the half and it proved pivotal.

A Halstead corner found Gilbert on the edge of the area and his header left Lawlor with no chance, as the Humbugs went in at the break ahead.

Oakley came out looking for the equaliser after half-time and having just put a good chance wide, levelled within five minutes of the restart through top scorer, Harry Mann, who bagged his 14th of the season.

Oakley were having the better of things in the second period and on the hour mark had a chance from a cross but the finish was tame and Cherry managed to clear his lines.

Halstead were now playing on the counter and a great move between Cleal and Gilbert saw the latter through on goal but a superb tackle from a home defender prevented his progress.

As the half wore on, Halstead worked their way back into the game, largely through Older, and a couple of his driving runs ended with crosses which his team-mates were unable to get on the end of, and additionally there were also great interventions from the Acorns defence.

This period of play finally ended up with Halstead regaining the lead with Lawlor unable to hold onto the ball and Gilbert on hand to put the ball into the net.

It left Halstead15 minutes to defend their advantage which they did well and during that period they had an opportunity to add to the scoreline but again a last-ditch tackle by a home defender saved the day for the Acorns.

The final whistle went with the Humbugs still in front and it meant that they jumped up a few places to sixth in the league.