Elmstead regain top spot in Two Counties Championship on a weekend of tight finishes
- Credit: Archant
There were some very close matches, and exciting finishes, in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship last Saturday.
These included a one-run defeat for then-leaders Wivenhoe, away at Witham, a victory by just two runs for Mistley over Halstead, and a nine-run success for Hadleigh at Woolpit in a Suffolk derby.
Elmstead also rallied strongly to beat Braintree by three wickets, and so replace Wivenhoe at the top of the table.
Relegated from the East Anglian Premier League last summer, Woolpit’s chances of an immediate return to the top flight appear to be very slim after they suffered a fifth defeat of the summer, at home to Hadleigh.
Visiting Hadleigh have now risen to fourth, just three points behind Woolpit, after their latest success at Rectory Lane.
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Hadleigh skipper Ben Wallis won the toss and elected to bat first, but that decision appeared to backfire when both openers – Ashley Clark and Brock Price – were back in the pavilion with just four runs on the board.
However, the talented Josh Davey masterminded a good recovery. Davey struck 74 in 125 balls, receiving good support from Marlon Dias (37) and Wallis (34) as Hadleigh eventually finished their 50 overs on 189 for seven.
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Nathan Crudeli took three for 36, off nine overs, and it was he who top-scored in Woolpit’s reply, although the hosts failed to build on a 50-run opening partnership between Jack Rowett (30) and captain Will Parker (11).
Clark took the first three wickets to fall (10-4-16-3), quickly reducing Woolpit from 50 for 0 to 54 for three, and wickets continued to tumble with Tim Rix slicing through their middle order, including claiming the important wicket of Crudeli (35).
Late order contributions from Hamish Fiddes (24), wicketkeeper Karl Holmes (20) and No. 10 Chris Wells (17) failed to rescue the situation, Woolpit being bowled out for 180 with four balls of the innings left, to lose by nine runs.
Rix ended with superb figures of 10-1-41-6.
Elsewhere, leaders Wivenhoe were toppled by Witham in a thriller at The Park. Michael Godwin (76) and James Suett (61) shared a big stand for the third wicket, providing the backbone of Witham’s total of 196 all out.
All their team-mates struggled at the crease, the experienced Andrew Green taking four for 38 during an impressive post-drinks spell, including the wicket of wicketkeeper Suett. Green has now taken 876 club wickets during a distinguished career.
Wivenhoe lost both their openers, Matt Durrell and Jordan Nicholls, early on in their reply, but Liam Hope-Shackley (70) and skipper Harry Burnett (46) seemed to steer them back on course for victory, with Hope-Shackley in an attacking mood.
However, Carl Bragg dismissed both men, on his way to figures of 10-0-23-3, and it all boiled down to a thrilling finishing. A total of 27 runs were still needed off the last three overs, with just one wicket remaining, but the last pair of Green (25) and Ross Evers (18) almost saw the visitors home.
Wivenhoe needed two to win off the final ball, but they fell just short on 195 for nine, Green being run out off that last delivery to lose by one run.
It was just as nail-biting at Mistley, where the home side’s 268 for six proved just enough to see off Halstead by the slender margin of two runs. Put into bat by Halstead captain Joshua Wells, Mistley were indebted to a high-quality 81 from opener James Stamatis, who struck two sixes and 14 fours in his 58-ball stay. He dominated an opening stand of 76 with James Garwood (11).
Sam Walter’s three for 46 pegged back Mistley, but an unbeaten 51 from Ian Morton and 28 not out by Stuart Dove pushed up the final total to 268.
Chris Huntington (55) and Graham Wickes (36) shared an opening stand of 77 to put Halstead on the right track, and there were some fine efforts in the middle order, especially from Ed Clark (45 off 42 balls) and Sam Chapman (35 off 27 balls).
However, Mistley opening bowler Tim Scott returned to the attack to snatch victory for the home side. He took the final three wickets to dismiss the visitors for 266 off the penultimate ball of the match – Halstead lost both Clark and Walter with the score stuck on 266 in that final over.
Meanwhile, Elmstead regained their lead at the top of Division One, after a three-wicket success over visiting Braintree. An in-form Chris Leech top-scored with 58, at the top of the innings, as Braintree posted a total of 180 for nine off their 50 overs. Nikhil Ellis took four for 37.
Elmstead were wobbling on 36 for four, and then 114 for six, but Dan White’s unbeaten 80 guided them to an eighth win of the summer, in the 46th over.