HALSTEAD TOWN had to settle for a point following a 2-2 draw at Takeley in the Essex Senior League, writes KEN GILLIARD.

The game got off to a sensational start with both sides scoring in the opening five minutes.

Takeley took the lead with barely two minutes gone but Halstead responded immediately when they broke and Jake Brown fired home from 25 yards.

The next 20 minutes saw relatively even play with few chances, although the better of these fell to The Humbugs.

Jordan Palmer was just off target following a long throw from Alfie Cleal, making his first start for some time after injury.

Takeley goalkeeper Joe Walker then punched away a Kane Gilbert header and while there were a few efforts from The Blues, there was nothing that troubled keeper Jack Cherry.

However, Takeley restored their lead on 26 minutes when Kieran Southgate's chipped, long-range effort was out of the reach of Cherry and nestled in the back of the net.

The hosts should have added to their tally two minutes later when winger Bouldon was left all on his own on the edge of the area but failed to control the ball and the chance was wasted.

Joel Older was prominent for The Humbugs for the remainder of the half, having a couple of efforts saved by a combination of Walker and his defenders.

However, the first half finished with Takeley a goal to the good.

The second period followed a similar pattern to the first, with chances few and far between.

Older's header was just off target and then Cleal had an effort saved by Walker, who also clung onto the ball as Gilbert closed in on the rebound.

At the other end, Cherry was quick off his line to avert the danger whilst the evergreen Nick Miller did well to intercept a dangerous Takeley through ball.

It looked as if the Humbugs would be heading home empty handed before on 80 minutes, an attack ended with the referee pointing to the spot and giving them a lifeline.

Gilbert stepped up and tucked away his 32nd goal of the season.

The final ten minutes saw the two sides pushing for a winner and it was Takeley who came the closest on a couple of occasions.

Halstead did well to clear a dangerous whipped free-kick, before Miller did superbly to chest a ball off the line when a goal looked certain, as the spoils were shared.