FC CLACTON were left shell-shocked after an unfortunate 1-0 defeat in tonight’s Thurlow Nunn League contest at home to Hadleigh United.

New boss Kieron Shelley was taking charge for the first time and the least his side deserved was a share of the spoils.

After having the better chances, they still looked set for what would have been a satisfying goal-less draw – a first point and maiden clean sheet of the season.

Instead, Hadleigh swept home a low right-wing cross in the latter stages to snatch maximum points and complete a quick-fire double over the Seasiders, following their 5-1 victory on Bank Holiday Monday.

Clacton set out to be hard to break down – mindful of the fact they had shipped 36 goals in their first seven premier division games – and employed three centre-halves in Steve Downes, Adam Daniels and Steve Hope.

Harvey Cowler and Jimmy Shuttlewood were the wing-backs, with Brad Westley occupying a deep midfield role behind Kevin Coyle, Jordan Brazitis and Tom Moore.

Luke Barnard led the line up front and there was little between the sides during a hard-fought first half.

Chances were few and far between but the best of them fell to Clacton, following a strong run from Daniels.

The skipper played in Coyle, on the right of the area, but his low shot was blocked by keeper Jack Benee – an outfield player deputising between the posts for the injured Sam Mansfield.

Shelley was forced to shuffle his pack as the first half progressed, having to withdraw Daniels and Barnard.

Westley dropped back to play as the right-sided centre-half, with Ollie Law coming on in the deep midfield role, while Ross Nash replaced Barnard.

Clacton made a bright start to the second half and went close again through Coyle, who burst through before seeing his venomous shot pushed away by Benee.

Unbelievably, the Hadleigh man then repeated his heroics again soon after – again denying Coyle.

The midfielder found himself clear in front of goal and could hardly believe it when his powerful effort was deflected behind.

Coyle, now in a more advanced role, certainly looked the player most likely to break the deadlock and midway through the second half he tried his luck with a long-range effort that flashed just wide of the right-hand post.

Clacton made their final change when Andy Gibbons came on for Shuttlewood.

They kept pressing and still looked the more likely team to score – only for Hadleigh to grab their winner in the 78th minute.

While certainly a bitter pill to swallow, the Seasiders can reflect on many positives and they will be look to build on them in Saturday’s match at fellow strugglers Kirkley and Pakefield.