HARWICH and Parkeston fell to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Benfleet, writes TERRY FRANCIS.

The Shrimpers started the Thurlow Nunn League first division south game well.

But they found themselves a goal down after 20 minute when an ill-judged back-pass and confusion between goalkeeper and defender provided the opportunity for Mason Shave to give Benfleet the lead.

Despite this setback, Harwich continued to look the better team, having more shots on goal than the visitors.

However, Benfleet defended well and got bodies on the line when it mattered.

Harwich could count themselves unlucky to be behind but Benfleet took their chances and increased their lead in the 53rd minute when the Harwich defence was caught out and Ben Foord scored a well-taken goal.

Harwich welcomed back key striker Jordan Heath after a lengthy injury lay-off for his first appearance of the season and he came off the bench to pep up the home attack.

In the last 20 minutes, Harwich pressed again but there were only seven minutes remaining when Alfie Smith drilled the ball into the net to reduce the arrears and give them hope of saving a point.

There were anxious moments for Benfleet in these closing minutes but the visitors were elated at the final whistle with the victory that took them to fourth in the table.

Harwich's next two games are at the bottom two clubs, giving them the opportunity to virtually make themselves safe from relegation fears.

They visit Haverhill Borough on Saturday while the reserves host Gosfield United, kick-off 2.30pm.