Ipswich stay top of Division Two despite defeat at the hands of East Bergholt
The leaders in the top two divisions in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship, Elmstead and Ipswich, both failed to win in the latest round of matches on Saturday.
While Division One pace-setters Elmstead were involved in a thrilling tied match against Mistley, Division Two leaders Ipswich slithered to a last-over home defeat at the hands of East Bergholt.
Ipswich had topped their division with seven wins from their first eight games, and they are still in pole position, although they were edged out by East Bergholt by five wickets at Clay Hall last weekend.
Put into bat by their visitors, Ipswich were indebted to 86 from captain Joe Rusby in their total of 217 for six off 45 overs.
Rusby put on 94 with wicketkeeper Mark Burch (56) for the second wicket, and later 72 for the fourth wicket with Louis Perrin (38 off just 28 balls).
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It was a useful total, but opener Richard Pickford struck a terrific century to see East Bergholt to their fourth win from eight starts.
Pickford made 116, off 130 balls, striking 14 boundaries as he guided East Bergholt to the brink of victory, figuring in a 86-run stand for the second wicket with Connor Oakley (33).
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Pickford was eventually the fifth wicket to fall, bowled by Damien Smith with the score on 201, just 17 runs short of victory.
But captain Sam Foster completed the job with an unbeaten 30 at No. 6, striking three crucial boundaries to see East Bergholt home with four balls to spare.
Also in Division Two, Copdock & Old Ipswichian 2nds cut the gap at the top to just five points, thanks to a five-wicket win at Dunmow.
James East took four for 58 as Dunmow were bowled out for 149, despite 73 from Paul Reid at No. 4, and Copdock then eased home inside 24 overs, Tim Percival top-scoring with 49.
Third-placed Coggeshall also look promotion contenders this season. They made it seven wins from eight fixtures with a crushing victory at Easton by eight wickets.
George Blackwell claimed figures of 9-2-27-6 as Easton were blown away for just 68 in 29.2 overs. Robert Jagger was 44 not out as Coggeshall reached their target in a mere 14.5 overs.
Also in Division Two, Ipswich & East Suffolk scrambled to a one-wicket win at Kelevdon & Feering, completing their win at the end of the penultimate over.
Four wickets apiece for opening bowlers Gavin Driver and Nathan Pryke restricted to Kelvedon to 191 for nine off their 45 overs. The hosts had at one stage been tottering on 98 for seven, until Thata Tshose rescued them with an unbeaten 58 at No. 9.
Ipswich & ES looked set for defeat, when losing their ninth wicket still 18 short of victory, but Driver (15 not out) nursed them home with No. 11 Tan Shahid. Edward Smith took five for 50.
Over at Lakenheath, a good all-round display from Imran Sheikh claimed a six-wicket win for Clacton. Sheihk took three for 75 off 15 overs in Lakenheath’s total of 209 for eight, Dominic Palmer having scored a patient 55 off 106 balls at the top of the order.
Sheikh then led the run-chase with 78 off 69 balls, putting on 112 for the first wicket with Scott Facey (46). Haydn Erfurth was 51 not out.
Finally in Division Two, veteran Andrew Squire batted throughout Mildenhall’s 45 overs in their 20-run success at Copford.
Squire struck an unbeaten 113 as the visitors reached 232 for four. Skipper Tom Sinclair did reply with 77 for Copford, but the hosts finished short on 212 for seven.
Up in Division One, leaders Elmstead saw their advantage cut to 11 points, after a tied match at home to Mistley.
The hosts posted a total of 201 for nine off their 50 overs, wicketkeeper Ryan Vickery top-scoring with 56 in the middle order. The tail wagged, with Vickery putting on 70 for the seventh wicket with Ashan Athurkoralage (34).
Graeme Butcher hit 10 fours in his innings of 78 at the top of the order, as Mistley looked well set at 116 for one. But Butcher’s dismissal was a turning point.
Jordan Elliott took five for 29, including the last wicket of Tim Scott (8), who was bowled off the penultimate ball of the match to leave Mistley stranded on 201 all out, and therefore having to be content with a tie.
Second-placed Woolpit continued their good form with a crushing eight-wicket victory at Halstead.
The Essex hosts were dismissed for 213, despite 61 from skipper Joshua Wells, and Woolpit reached their target with 5.1 overs to spare, thanks to a 168-run opening partnership between Jack Rowett (102, off 136 balls) and skipper Will Parker (55).