Halstead lose lead as Melford fight back

EARNING THEIR STRIPES: Halstead Town goalscorer Jordan Palmer (in red) and Sam Bayliss of ever-improving Long Melford fight for possession

EARNING THEIR STRIPES: Halstead Town goalscorer Jordan Palmer (in red) and Sam Bayliss of ever-improving Long Melford fight for possession

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THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE

FIRST DIVISION

Long Melford 2

Halstead Town 2

New Halstead Town manager Mark Benterman remained unbeaten as boss after his side hung on by the skin of their teeth against Long Melford.

But Town will be left ruing the two points lost as despite leading 2-0, both from Jordan Palmer, they were hauled back after poor defensive work, by a willing home side who ended with 10 men.

The visitors were without James Murray, serving a one-match suspension, and his industry was sadly missing throughout the game as well as a complete lack of shots on the home goal.

With only three minutes gone, Halstead were gifted the opener when home keeper Sam Mansfield, confronted with a bouncing back pass, sliced the ball square along his own penalty area and Palmer had the simple job of firing into the net from three yards.

Gradually Melford came into the game and Jack Cherry did well to block a Jack Durey shot from close range, but it was Halstead who were in command at half-time.

Melford improved in the second period, but they went further behind after 59 minutes when a free-kick ballooned high to the edge of the Melford box, the defence went into a static form looking for offside, and the ball fell to Palmer for another simple tap-in, his seventh goal in six games.

Melford introduced their most experienced player, Martin Westcott, and from that point onwards looked the better side.

On 74 minutes a long throw-in from 16-year-old Harry Fryer put the Halstead defence in a tangle and, from the subsequent scramble, Justin Crissell forced the ball into the net.

With Halstead looking shaky and Melford on the offensive the leveller duly arrived when Chris Toole found Will Wingfield, who slotted the ball behind the Halstead defence and in nipped Durey to fire home with aplomb.

Halstead: Cherry, Foulger (K Smith 68), Raby, Hurkett, Cunliffe (Gunn 85), Spriggs, Drew (Appleby 62), Barry, Root, Knight, Palmer.

Melford: Mansfield, Bayliss, Toole, Thomas (Fryer 43) Crissell, Owen, Durey, Guyon, Durell, W Wingfield, Prince (Westcott 70). Unused subs: Melia, Abbott.