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Saturday 3rd September - Kick Off 3.00pm ​After a three week break, league action returned to the Milbank Stadium where Halstead Town entertained Ilford in this Essex Senior League match. Thankfully, the weather was more seasonal than it was for the opening home game against Athletic Newham which was played in extreme temperatures on a hard, dry dustbowl of a pitch. The groundsmen must have worked hard in this time as the pitch had recovered really well and was now looking like a football pitch should. Green. When I arrived at the ground at 2.00 it was already busy as there had been a 'kids' tournament beforehand and some the children and parents had stayed for the match, which swelled the crowd. As the teams lined up before the match there was a minutes silence for former club stalwart Ian Newport who has sadly passed away. (Not many will know that Ian's dad, Johnny, was a linesman in the 1962 World Cup Finals in Chile). Before the match I wandered around the ground and tried to set the scene, taking photo's of the many characters and former players who volunteer and help out at the club on match days. Now armed with my new camera I was keen to get to grips with the match shots and get the hang of all the many extra features it has. Another change was selling the rather heavy and cumbersome Sigma 150-500 lens and replaced it with a smaller, lighter and faster Canon 70-300. As for the match. Halstead looked to have been working hard since their last match at Little Oakley over two and a half weeks ago and looked very sharp from the start. Ilford weren't going to let Halstead have it all their own way and were very competitive, but every time Halstead got forward they did look like they'd score. 3-0 at half time, did somewhat flatter the home side and they were fortunate not to concede one just before half time when a misplaced back pass let Ilford in, but the shot thankfully went wide. The second half was pretty much more of the same and once Halstead went 4 up it ended it as a contest. Ilford never gave up and still went in search of a consolation goal, but the match became disjointed with both sides making several substitutions. Halstead deserved their victory, but Ilford will be disappointed to have lost by 4 and not got on the scoresheet. As for the camera. For it’s first outing I’m really pleased with the results and have now settled on settings/techique etc and I'll look forward to the next match. Shame I’ll miss the next 2 matches as I’m not available. ​Essex Senior League - Premier Division Milbank Stadium, Halstead Halstead Town 4-0 Ilford Admission - £7 (£3 concessions) Programme - £1 Cheeseburger & Tea - £4 Att 222

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