HALSTEAD Town claimed a 2-1 win over White Ensign in the Essex Senior League, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The hosts were out of the traps quickest at Milbank Stadium, forcing a series of corners in the opening five minutes.

However the first real chance went to Ensign as Halstead were hit on break but Eze Bademosi completely missed his kick when well placed.

The Humbugs had two great chances in quick succession.

The first saw an Ensign defender smash his header off his own bar and from the resultant corner, Matt Coppen fired wide when free in the middle of the box.

Halstead almost paid the penalty when, from Ensign’s first corner, Austin Smart headed wide.

The half hour mark saw Ensign putting the home goal under pressure as a corner was flicked on and Halstead needed several blocks to avert trouble.

Kane Gilbert’s quick thinking from a free-kick released Cousins but a Ensign defender and keeper did enough to snub out the threat.

Halstead almost broke the deadlock as Coppen stormed into the area and laid the ball to Ade Funbi and his effort was heading for the top left corner until goalkeeper Harry Fairs clawed the ball away for a corner.

Fairs was in action again shortly when he saved with his legs, after Sonny Dutton got through and fired goalwards.

After a goal-less first half, White Ensign started the second period the stronger and goalkeeper Jack Cherry was the Halstead saviour, twice saving from Bademosi.

But Ensign's pressure then told as Bademosi turned in the box and shot through a defender’s legs to find the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Halstead almost levelled when Funbi played in Gilbert and his curling effort came back off a post.

That was to be Funbi’s last contribution as the hosts made several changes in their attempt to get back on level terms.

The Humbugs got their equaliser with 20 minutes remaining as a header from a corner came off the bar and the rebound fell to substitute Harry Pinkney, who kept his cool to stab home.

Pinkney almost put the hosts ahead a minute later but was denied by Fairs, who palmed his effort for a corner.

The set piece saw a 25-yard effort from Halstead headed over the bar by a defender as the hosts looked to make the momentum tell.

Substitute Joel Older's shot flashed across the goalmouth and ended just wide of the far post.

Halstead pushed for a late winner and got one with nine minutes left.

Older's corner found the in-form Gilbert, who headed down and into the net.

Ensign almost equalised within a minute as substitute Mechack Asuka got the wrong side of the defence but was firstly thwarted by a superb block from Cherry and then saw his follow-up effort headed off the line by Robbie Bennett.

It was Ensign’s turn to force the pace with Halstead looking to hit them on the break.

But they were restricted to a long-range effort curling beyond the far post, after Bennett had superbly headed away from the danger area.

Halstead held out for victory in a game they were largely in control of, barring the opening minutes of the second half.