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Halstead Town boss Mark McLean confident they can get their promotion bid back on track when Thurlow Nunn League suspension is lifted




Despite a return of just six points from their opening seven Thurlow Nunn League First Division South matches, Halstead Town boss Mark McLean is still confident 2020/21 can be their promotion campaign.

The Humbugs headed into the Covid-19 non-elite sport lockdown in 12th place in the table following last Wednesday’s hard-fought 0-0 draw at Coggeshall Town.

But with injuries to their back line having plagued them in the early part of the season, McLean believes they can get things back on track when the league resumes.

Halstead Town manager Mark McLean has been pleased with the football his side have playedPicture: Mark Westley
Halstead Town manager Mark McLean has been pleased with the football his side have playedPicture: Mark Westley

He said: “I lost (goalkeeper) Jack Cherry for six weeks and all my first-team three recognised centre-halves over the same three to four week period. So hence the results, three 3-2s and a 4-2 and then we’ve drawn 2-2 and 0-0 having just started to get a couple of them back.

“The ironic thing is that we have probably been playing some of our best football in the time that I have been the manager.

“For example, we went to Newbury (October 17) and for 55 minutes we absolutely played them off the park, but the result was 4-3 (defeat) and it should have been 3-0 but it was 4-3 because of the naivety of the people on the pitch; we had two central midfielders playing centre-half and that dirty, horrible side of defending does not come natural to them.

Talismanic goalkeeper Jack Cherry recently returned from injury for Halstead TownPicture: Mark Westley
Talismanic goalkeeper Jack Cherry recently returned from injury for Halstead TownPicture: Mark Westley

“It has been unbelievably frustrating.

“We steadied the ship as we drew 2-2 with Harwich (& Parkeston, away) but we were 2-0 up and we should have been six of seven nil up and they have scored two goals with two chances.

“I am pulling my hair out as I have seen so many things that I like but I’ve just got obviously got a team that aren’t seeing a game out.”

He certainly thinks it is something he can quickly turn around and admitted the break has come at a good time for them.

Mark McLean hopes to have important defender Gary Burdett back when football resumes following a troublesome injuryPicture: Roger Cuthbert
Mark McLean hopes to have important defender Gary Burdett back when football resumes following a troublesome injuryPicture: Roger Cuthbert

“I can’t believe where we are in the league but it is where we are and we now need to work hard in these couple of weeks on the basics which is fitness and getting everyone back up to speed,” he said.

“It has come at a good time because it allows us to get these players recovered and we had just got Jack (Cherry) on the pitch for the last two games, who is so important to us.

“And I still expect us to come strong but you are looking upwards now because there is a lot of teams in front of us. But the league has shown anybody can beat anybody and it is all to play for. For me, we go again and press the reset button.”

As it stands, the national lockdown is due to be lifted on Wednesday, December 2, subject to government approval.

Halstead are due to host ninth-placed Barkingside on Saturday, December 5, while the Thurlow Nunn League recently informed clubs that they could either play their first league fixtures once restrictions had been loosened, or use the date for training and friendly matches.

The league also confirmed the 2020/21 end date has been pushed back three weeks until May 15.

McLean welcomed the extension and indicated the club would want “to go straight back in” rather than accept the offer of a further week’s preparation.

But regular captain Jake Brown is likely to still be sidelined having come off with a ‘nasty looking’ hamstring injury last Wednesday.

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