Halstead Town boss Mark McLean sees visit of league leaders Lopes Tavares as a 'free shot' in their promotion bid
Mark McLean feels his Halstead Town side are in a good place for what he sees as a ‘free shot’ when league leaders Lopes Tavares visit the Milbank Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
After a shaky start to the season, not helped by the squad being ravaged by injuries, the Humbugs moved back into the top four promotion places with an impressive 1-0 victory at Wormley Rovers on Saturday.
Substitute Jordan Pavett’s late goal came after Halstead had been reduced to 10 men for the final quarter of an hour, following a second yellow card to Connel Dunlop.
“Some of the football we played in the first half was as good as we have played this season but their goalkeeper was in inspired form,” said manager McLean.
“The second half, in difficult conditions, was more end to end but we were still the better side.
“We went down to 10 men with 15 minutes to go at 0-0 but I still felt we could win the game.
“It was ironic how it came as their keeper made another good save but then threw the ball out to Jordan Pavett who looped it over him to score. It was fortunate but at the same time deserved.”
An horrendous injury list, which left them without 11 players earlier this month, has had a big impact on a consistent run of results so far this campaign. But their latest victory does leave them just four points adrift of Saturday’s opponents Lopes Tavares, who hold three games in hand.
But a few defeats could quickly slide Halstead down the table with only four points currently separating them in third spot from a mid-table 12th.
“Lopes are the only ones who have a tiny bit of wiggle room and we have ground we need to make up on them, so Saturday is a great opportunity to do that,” said McLean, whose side lost the reverse fixture 3-0 with a depleted side but thrashed them 5-0 at home in the Essex Senior Cup in August.
“It is a free shot for us though and a no-lose situation. We feel we are a good competitive side and we showed that again at the weekend.
“We just need to carry that on into a run of games we have against teams in and around us that will define our season.”
Striker Ricky Gardner, captain Jake Brown and Pavett are all still working their way back from hamstring injuries but other than Jamie Baker and Tom Cook everyone is set to be available for selection for this weekend.
“We are pretty much injury free and for me now having one or two missing is a dream,” said McLean.
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