THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE
Halstead Town 2
Haverhill Borough 2
Haverhill Borough let a 2-0 lead slip in their Boxing Day clash against neighbours Halstead Town and ended up hanging on for a point.
Borough started well, with Ryan Swallow hitting a powerful free-kick from the edge of the penalty area in the third minute, which Halstead goalkeeper Luke Banner turned behind for a corner.
In response, Jake Brown should have done better for the hosts when he scuffed his shot wide of goal after arriving unmarked into the Haverhill penalty area in the eighth minute.
A mix-up between Borough’s Gareth Thomas and Charlie Turner saw Halstead’s Sam Cripps go through on goal, but he also shot wide.
Haverhill took the lead after 17 minutes when Swallow collected the ball from Craig Pruden’s back header and rifled the ball past Banner to give the visitors an unexpected lead.
Cripps then forced Borough goalkeeper Turner into a fine save, tipping over a strong shot from the edge of the area, before Danny Shipton doubled Haverhill’s advantage on 33 minutes.
Shipton’s well-hit free-kick from distance took an awkward bounce in front of Banner and struck the edge of the post before rolling in to make it 2-0.
Matt Staines could have increased Haverhill’s lead when he burst through the Halstead defence in first-half added time, but his shot was well blocked by Banner and the miss would prove to be decisive.
Halstead dominated the remainder of the game, with Turner making a fine early save in the second-half to keep out a Ricky Spriggs bicycle kick.
The Borough keeper saved a free-kick from Charlie Pleace which evaded his defence, before he could only watch as Marcus Warren’s shot flashed across the goalmouth.
There was little surprise when Halstead substitute Tom Cook reduced the deficit with a powerful free-kick on 72 minutes, and, although Haverhill skipper Thomas deflected a goalbound shot off his own goal line four minutes later, Cripps equalised for the hosts from the resultant corner.
Turner produced another fine save to deny Cripps before losing control and seeing red following a melee in the penalty area, in which the Borough keeper appeared to slap a Halstead player.
It left the visitors facing a difficult last five minutes with the diminutive Aaron Forshaw pulling on the goalkeeper’s shirt, but Borough defended stoutly to come away with a point.
Haverhill Borough: Turner, Geoghegan (Hardwick 77), Shipton, Watson, Thomas, Lodge, Pruden, Milne, Bone (Pater 85), Swallow (Forshaw 72), Staines. Subs not used: Sigler, Choat.
Referee Lucas Bomela. Attendance 109.