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Halstead Town assistant Adam Munn takes positives out of ‘brilliant performance’ despite exiting FA Vase to Stanway Pegasus via penalty shootout





Halstead Town assistant manager Adam Munn felt Saturday’s performance in their Isuzu FA Vase exit at home to lower-league Stanway Pegasus did not get the rewards it deserved but did demonstrate the never-say-die attitude of the current Humbugs squad.

Halstead trailed to Rosi Webb’s side twice after a poor start to both halves in front of the second 400-plus crowd at the Milbank Stadium in as many weekends.

But on both occasions they found a way back in the first round proper tie with a Kane Gilbert penalty towards the end of the first half followed by a fine volleyed finish from centre-back Robbie Bennett 12 minutes from time.

Jack Cherry is unable to reach a Stanway penalty in the conclusion of Halstead’s FA Vase tie Pictures: Mecha Morton
Jack Cherry is unable to reach a Stanway penalty in the conclusion of Halstead’s FA Vase tie Pictures: Mecha Morton

But after the sides could not be separated in the frantic final minutes, which saw the hosts reduced to 10 men with Kane Gilbert shown a second yellow card, it was five perfect penalties which got Pegasus throw after Jordan Palmer saw his side’s first kick saved.

“I think we did extremely well throughout the game,” said Munn, who stepped into post-match interview duties after manager Mark McLean had to make a quick exit.

“I think we had two spells, at the start of the first half and the start of the second half where we didn't come out as we had planned. Obviously in both periods we conceded and I think after that we created multiple opportunities and began to grow into the game, especially in the first half.

Robbie Bennett (right) celebrates his 78th minute volley which levelled the tie
Robbie Bennett (right) celebrates his 78th minute volley which levelled the tie

"In the second half obviously we kept going and came from behind twice which shows the mentality that we've got in the team; that we're going to keep going and keep pushing, regardless of what happens.

"Overall it was a brilliant performance, bar a 10-minute spell where we didn't come out as ourselves and it's a frustrating way to go out of a cup for anyone, no-one likes that.

"Credit where credit is due to Stanway Pregasus, their penalties were spot on; they were amazing penalties, ones that our keeper Jack Cherry, to be fair isn't keeping out of the net.”

He said the message to the players in the dressing room afterwards had been very much to throw off the frustration ahead of going again in tomorrow night’s BBC Essex Senior Cup second round tie at home to Southend Manor.

Halstead players protest in vian as Kane Gilbert is sent off late on
Halstead players protest in vian as Kane Gilbert is sent off late on

He also hailed the club’s volunteers who managed to get Saturday’s tie on when others in the area fell victim to waterlogged pitches following the effects of Storm Babet.

“It was absolutely brilliant,” he said, “not just the groundstaff but whole committee at the club and the volunteers around the club and everything they do to get the games on.

“Hopefully we can reward the groundstaff, the backroom staff, the chairman and everyone else by progressing to the next round of the Senior Cup on Wednesday.”

Halstead Town boss Mark McLean (centre) shares a moment on the touchline with the opposition dugout team Picture: Mecha Morton
Halstead Town boss Mark McLean (centre) shares a moment on the touchline with the opposition dugout team Picture: Mecha Morton

Of another bumper crowd at Rosemary Lane, he said: “It was a phenomenal crowd and we can only keep thanking everyone for coming in and putting their support behind us.”

Shortly after Cherry had made a good full-stretch save to keep the visitors at bay, former Colchester United professional Tariq Issa had been found unmarked to convert a low cross for a fourth minute lead.

Halstead Town players react during the penalty shootout Picture: Mecha Morton
Halstead Town players react during the penalty shootout Picture: Mecha Morton

But Halstead soon found their attacking rhythm and Gilbert’s penalty, after Freddie Hayes upended Ade Funbi 36th minute was no less than they deserved.

They fell behind again seven minutes after the restart to a stunning 30-yard free kick into the top corner from Pegasus skipper Dean Ager.

However, Bennett found himself in a great position to volley home Funbi’s headed knockdown in the 78th minute to spark wild celebrations.

Despite late pressure it was not to be the fairy-tale comeback though with Pegasus proving too precise from the spot to knock the Humbugs out.

Following on from Wednesday’s cup tie, mid-table Halstead return to Essex Senior League Premier Division action on Saturday with a trip to 12th-placed Barking (3pm).

"It's been a good start,” Munn said of their league campaign.

“It's been an interesting league at the minute where it's very open. You've got a couple of front-runners that are moving away but in terms of even if you go down to 17th, 18th in the league and up to fifth it isn't that much.

“It's just about taking each game at a time and that's what we say to the boys. Just play against what's infront of you, you can't do anything else. We're just bringing strength to strength at the minute."

Asked if there was a target this season, having staved off relegation in their first season back at Step 5 last term, he said: “No. I think last season was just about the boys learning about the level and cementing themselves.

"We never had any worries as a management team. We knew what we were doing and at the end of last season we obviously finished quite high up in the form table.

"Starting this season we've started off as we left off which is brilliant with a couple of new additions to the team as well.

"But the boys all know the direction we are going in and the philosophy and it's building and improving.

"So in terms of targets this season we're just going game to game. There is no set objective. We'll see what happens going game to game and whatever comes off the end of it is where we're at.

"But hopefully a strong finish in the league will cement us as a Step 5 side now."