Thurlow Nunn League division one

Halstead Town were left ruing not making more of chances they created as Braintree Town Reserves proved more clinical with their own and brought the Humbugs' unbeaten start to the season to a close.

There were enough opportunities crafted by Halstead for them to have get something from the Thurlow Nunn League division one derby game at the Ironmongery Direct Stadium.

However, it was Braintree who took their chances to run out 3-2 winners in a thoroughly absorbing encounter.

It was a lively start from both sides as both sets of players looked to get the ball down and move it around the field intelligently.

Their determination to play football made it an attractive game to watch in the early stages, but it was Halstead who were able to make the more incisive probes forward.

In particular, they looked dangerous down their left flank and in the sixth minute Jamie Baker swung in ball from that side that Adam Hampson was just unable to connect with in the six yard box.

It was a warning shot to the Young Irons and further one came two minutes later when Tyler Kemp cut in from left after James Regan surged forward Kemp’s low driven shot was sweetly struck, but Iron keeper Harry Aldridge pulled off a great save low to his right at full stretch to deny the Halstead man.

The balance of play continued towards the home goal and Halstead carved out another lovely opportunity in the 14th minute.

A lovely flighted cross from the left by Kemp was met by the head of the onrushing Andy Joslin but with the goal at his mercy, he sent the ball over the bar when he should really have tested Aldridge.

Braintree were having to absorb the pressure at this point, but they held their nerve and were soon rewarded for that.

They were quick on the break and a lovely cross-field ball from Jack Hurley was into the path of Matt Baxter and his shot was deflected over the bar.

The hosts took the lead from the resulting corner in the 20th minute, though, when the Humbugs failed to clear a bouncing ball and Baxter engineered the space to ram the ball low into the net.

The goal heralded a spell for the rest of the half where play flowed from end to end in a thoroughly entertaining spectacle.

If Halstead were already ruing not making more of early chances, though, they certainly were just before the half hour mark.

The ball was worked in from the left again to where Karl Andrade was waiting, but with time to pick his spot, he snatched at a shot and pulled the ball high over the bar as the visitors’ frustrations continued.

They were nearly doubled in the 33rd minute when Hurley’s well-weighted ball forward fell perfectly into the run of Joe Jones, who tested Halstead keeper Joe Fowler at his near post with a smart shot.

The end-to-end nature of the game continued and Aldridge had to be alert again with another excellent save from Hampson’s low angled drive as the Young Irons stayed ahead at the break.

It was soon 2-0, though, as Braintree punished some hesitancy in the Halstead defence within two minutes of the restart.

They failed to clear a dangerous ball and Mark Dallinger was in the right place to profit as he fired the ball into the goal.

Braintree tails were clearly up as they played the ball with confidence and a particularly fluent move just before the hour mark was only denied a goal at the end by Jones heading just over.

Halstead weren’t prepared to lie down and accept defeat, though, and pulled themselves back into the game in the 72nd minute.

Baker swung a beautiful cross to the far post where it was headed back across goal by Joe O’Hare and Hampson headed in bravely under pressure.

Hampson received a cut to his head in getting to the header and had to be replaced by Kane Gilbert and the Halstead youngster had an almost instant impact.

After Fowler saved at full stretch from Ethan Evison, the Humbugs broke quickly and O’Hare was the provider again as Gilbert fired the visitors level in the 75th minute.

It was Halstead tails that were up now, but there was another twist to end an incredible eight-minute spell.

A lovely break down the Braintree right saw the ball squared to where Jones was waiting to fire it into the roof of the net to restore the lead for the Young Irons.

And it proved to be the decisive strike of the night as, although Halstead pressed for an equaliser in the latter stages, there was no comeback as their unbeaten start to the season came to an end.

Braintree Town Reserves: Harry Aldridge, Harry Seal, Matt Travell, Charlie Webb, Troy Featherstone, Jake Thompson, Jack Hurley (Regan Farley-Hearn), Mark Dallinger, Joe Jones, Matt Baxter (Lewis Stantiall), Ethan Evison (Bailey Jones).

Substitutes: Joe Steadman, Tom Leaning.

Halstead Town: Joe Fowler, Jordan Hutchings (Harry Salter), James Regan, Ash Drew, Lewis Cunliffe, Jack Schelvis, Jamie Baker, Andy Joslin, Karl Andrade (Joe O’Hare), Adam Hampson (Kane Gilbert) , Tyler Kemp.

Substitutes: Nick Miller, Marcus Warren.

Referee: Chris Williams.