HALSTEAD Town were beaten 1-0 at Hullbridge Sports in the Essex Senior League, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Humbugs knew they needed a victory to get their play-off push back on track, following a midweek draw with Frenford.

Hullbridge are also very much in the play-off contention and it made for an intriguing afternoon’s football.

It was the Humbugs who were out of the blocks the quickest and with less than five minutes gone, they had their first effort on goal.

Great interplay between Joe Maybanks, Ade Funbi and Kane Gilbert set up Jake Brown, but his effort was turned round a post.

The hosts were struggling to get into the game but chances came and went for the visitors.

However, on 15 minutes they almost got a helping hand as a home defender turned the ball onto his own post.

Shortly afterwards Funbi put an effort wide when well placed and then he was superbly tackled by Jay Leader when through on goal.

The flow of the game continued in the same vein until the break with Gilbert heading just over and a Sonny Dutton effort just scrapping the woodwork.

However, the whistle went with the game still goalless despite Halstead creating an array of chances but their finishing was not clinical, whilst for the hosts Otete, Dixon and Asamoah kept the Humbugs defence alert.

Halstead started the second half brightly and the opening five minutes saw three efforts on goal, from Gilbert, Maybanks and Dutton but none of them tested the home keeper.

Hullbridge started to assert themselves on and 54 minutes Jack Cherry pulled off a terrific save from Dixon but just before the hour mark he was beaten.

The hosts took the lead with a fine goal from Michael Agboola, who struck a low shot past Cherry and into the net.

Hullbridge almost extended their advantage fivee minutes later when Leader’s effort from close range was saved brilliantly by Cherry.

In between this and the goal Dutton saw another effort but again it missed the target.

The momentum had briefly swung the way of the hosts and it was Cherry again who did well to deny them from adding to their lead.

The final 15 minutes saw the Humbugs try to exert some pressure but other than the occasional cross or free-kick they didn’t create any clearcut chances and fell to defeat.