EMIRATES FA CUP
Halstead Town 3
Halstead Town manager Mark Benterman hailed his players after they pulled off an FA Cup shock by knocking out a side who play two leagues higher than themselves on Saturday.
The Humbugs boss had told his side to keep things tight in the first 25 minutes at the Ryman League Premier Division club — but saw that go out of the window as his side raced into a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes.
“It was phenomenal and it could have been even better,” said Benterman on reflecting on Tom Cook’s stunning long-range curling effort giving them the lead before Joe O’Hare’s effort from near the halfway line caught the wind and sailed in.
“The club have been saying it is the best result we have had in 10 years and it is certainly mine in the four years I have been here.”
Halstead extended their lead to three when, against the run of play, substitute Charlie Pleace nodded in Jordan Hutching’s cross.
The visitors’ defence was finally breached in the 70th minute when Pete Davies put through his own net, and after some great goalkeeping from Joe Fowler, it was not until five minutes from time that Thurrock got it back to 3-2, but Halstead held out.
Benterman, who had been without Nick Wilderspin, Sam Cripps and James Murray, said: “It was fantastic for the club and the players.”
The north Essex side’s reward is a derby date at Ryman Premier AFC Sudbury in the first qualifying round a week on Saturday.
Halstead (12th) return to Thurlow Nunn League First Division action this Saturday when hosting Wisbech St Mary (3pm) before travelling to Whitton United on Monday (3pm).