THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE: FIRST DIVISION: Halstead Town 5 Swaffham Town 1: Halstead Town manager Mark Benterman admitted he has an embarrassment of attacking riches to choose from after dismantling Swaffham Town.
Jordan Hutchings and Jordan Palmer each scored twice in the Humbugs’ 5-1 triumph, while Reis Farley-Hearn made his return to the club as a second-half substitute.
And with top scorer Ellis Carter returning for this week’s double header against Braintree Town Reserves — at home on Saturday (3pm) and away on Wednesday (7.45pm) — Halstead appear to have more than enough firepower for their 12-game run-in.
“We’ve got Reis back and Adam Brotherton has come in, so the squad we’ve got going into the final 12 games is the strongest we’ll ever have,” said Benterman after seeing his side go second with their convincing victory over the fourth-placed Pedlars. “The reserves and under-18s are full of talent as well, so I’m rubbing my hands together because it is so hard to pick a squad for each game.”
In a lightning start to the match, Adam Brotherton was denied by visiting custodian Alan Brooks after just seven seconds, but it was still only the fourth minute when James Murray’s glancing near-post header from Lee Hurkett’s inswinging right-wing corner looped over everyone and into the far corner to put Halstead ahead.
Gareth Thomas gave Swaffham the chance to draw level in the seventh minute when he tripped Joe Jackson in the penalty area and Jack Redhead sent Luke Banner the wrong way from the spot.
However, Halstead reasserted control six minutes later when — after Brotherton handled on the floor in the build-up — Murray slipped the ball into the path of Palmer, who stroked it home from 18 yards.
Hutchings notched for the first time midway through the first half when he collected Brotherton’s cute right-footed flick, touched the ball past Brooks and slotted it into an empty goal.
Halstead continued to dominate after the interval and Murray’s header was blocked on the line by a defender before Brooks kept out Palmer’s follow-up with his right boot.
Farley-Hearn — who scored 40 goals in 64 appearances before leaving Rosemary Lane in January 2013 — had a goal chalked off for offside on his return from Braintree Town Reserves and instead it was Hutchings who doubled his personal tally when he coolly converted Palmer’s low cross after the latter had exchanged passes with James Regan on the left.
Hutchings found the side netting when in search of his hat-trick and Palmer slotted home at the second time of asking three minutes into stoppage time to complete the rout.
Halstead: Banner, Foulger, Regan, Hurkett, Cunliffe, Thomas, Hutchings, Miller, Brotherton (Farley-Hearn 48 (Fleming 86)), Murray (Cook 70), PALMER. Subs not used: Carroll, Dean. Attendance: 91.