HALSTEAD Town were on the wrong end of a harsh 4-0 home defeat against Sporting Bengal United at Milbank Stadium, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The Humbugs, who returned to Essex Senior League action after a ten-day gap, were left to rue not taking advantage of their first-half dominance, coupled with frustration at some of the officials’ decisions.

Halstead enjoyed most of the early possession, with Joel Older's far-post header comfortably collected by Bengal keeper Sidi Haidara.

At the other end, Tanvir Ahmed almost got behind the back four and the Humbugs needed some last-ditch defending to repel them.

There was controversy on 22 minutes as Joe Maybanks' deflected shot flew in but the assistant referee ruled the ball had come off a Humbugs player and the goal was chalked off.

Older's strike was grasped at the second attempt by Haidara, before Jake Brown's block stopped Jay Knight’s effort curling into the top corner after Bengal hit Halstead on the break.

Robbie Bennett headed over from Matt Travell's free-kick for Halstead, while Bengal defender Freddy Tandon nodded just past the far post.

Halstead were then denied by the assistant's flag for the second time after another offside ruling, as the sides went in at the break goal-less.

Bengal went ahead three minutes after half-time when a cross was headed in at the far post by Tandon.

Halstead almost equalised immediately as Travell's free-kick found Kane Gilbert but his effort was straight at the keeper.

Bengal then doubled their lead when Tandon's looping header flew into the net at the far post.

Maybank's 25-yard effort flew just over and Jake Godfrey turned Maybanks' low, hard cross over his bar, as Halstead pressed.

Jack Cherry was quickly off his line to spread himself as Daniel Pepple bore down on goal, while Halstead substitute Harry Pinkney's header just floated over as the hosts pressed.

There was more controversy in the 72nd minute as Cherry came out and clearly got the ball but the referee saw a foul and pointed to the spot.

Tandon duly completed his hat-trick and the referee then further distanced himself from the home crowd.

In the aftermath of that poor decision, the official sin binned Brown but before he could get off the pitch, showed him a second yellow and sent him off.

Pinkney and Julian Simon-Parson both had efforts for Halstead but Bengal sealed their win on 82 minutes when Ahmed slotted home a fourth.

Jordan Palmer headed just over for Halstead late on, as the visitors claimed a flattering victory.