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Manager Mark McLean is delighted after Halstead Town move to the top of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South

Sitting top of the Thurlow Nunn League First Division South off the back of 6-0 and 4-1 wins over their nearest rivals, Mark McLean admits things could not be much better for Halstead Town right now.

The Humbugs had lost their last six games against Braintree Town Reserves before posting comfortable back-to-back victories over them to open up a three-point lead at the top of the table.

Even an injury crisis that is now almost fully cleared has not been able to knock them off their stride, with Halstead looking to rack up their fifth straight league win ahead of hosting ninth-placed Frenford on Saturday (3pm).

Kane Gilbert scored twice against Braintree Town Reserves at Cressing Road Roger Cuthbert (5275602)
Kane Gilbert scored twice against Braintree Town Reserves at Cressing Road Roger Cuthbert (5275602)

“Everything has shone through so far,” said boss McLean.

“We are able to deal with injuries and have had great consistency in the league up till now. And we are dealing with a mix of styles we are coming up against much better.

“Ultimately, we are controlling games which is the important part, as more often than not that sees you win games.”

But with only one team from both regionalised first divisions, instead of three from one in past seasons, set to be promoted, he is aware they must not take their foot off the gas.

“There is a long, long way to go still – we are not even halfway through – and there is a lot of football still to play.

“We just need to keep accumulating points and see where it takes us.

“There is only potentially one team going up and the second from the highest tally of a Step 6 side in the country.”

On Friday, McLean said all of their preparation went out the window as only three players remained of the side they had beaten 4-1 at The Milbanks Stadium just seven days previously, following a change of manager.

But he was delighted to see his side come out of the game with not only another big score, but also a clean sheet.

“They gave as good as they got for the first 20-25 minutes but from 30 minutes in we started to shine through and it was really important to score the first goal, and we got another before half-time,” he said.

“In the second half I thought we were outstanding and really clicked into gear.

“When Braintree had a good 10 minutes we were nice and solid and that is what I want to see more of.”

Kane Gilbert eventually broke the deadlock when heading home Jordan Pavett’s superb free-kick delivery.

They doubled their advantage with Callum Vincent pouncing on poor defensive play.

There was a pivotal moment early in the second half when Jack Cherry saved superbly before a rebound was spurned.

A second penalty which looked clear-cut for Halstead was not given before Vincent started and finished a move for his second.

Substitute Chris Harris got the fourth and Gilbert added his second before Joseph Jones finished the rout.

Looking ahead to Frenford, he is not expecting an easy test.

“They are no mugs, but you can see in their results they are just lacking consistency,” added McLean.

Marcus Warren (back and Achilles) and Jack Shelvis (unavailable) are ruled out, while Charlie Pleace (hip) is out for the season.

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