Surprise defeats for the top three in the Two Counties Championship

Maldon captain Chris Harris, who scored 45 in his side's three-wicket victory over Woolpit on Saturd

Maldon captain Chris Harris, who scored 45 in his side's three-wicket victory over Woolpit on Saturday. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The top three in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship all suffered surprise defeats last weekend.

Leaders Elmstead were beaten at home by mid-table Witham, by 27 runs, but second-placed Wivenhoe could not take advantage as they went down by four wickets at home to Mistley.

And third-placed Woolpit also lost, by a three-wicket margin at the hands of fourth-placed Maldon, to leave the race for the title wide open going into the last two weekends of the season.

Elmstead remain in pole position, 19 points clear of Wivenhoe, with Woolpit a further nine points adrift.

This weekend looks set to be a crucial one, because the top two meet with Elmstead entertaining Wivenhoe, while Woolpit play host to Suffolk rivals Worlington.

A fine 71 from Dan White was not enough to prevent Elmstead from suffering only their fourth defeat of the summer, against Witham, who been put into bat at Vicarage Meadow.

Witham made 217 for seven off their 50 overs, thanks to three half-centuries from skipper Jake Wakelin (50) and middle order batsmen Simon Jones (55) and Matt Anderson (54). The latter pair put on 95 for the fifth wicket.

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White was the pick of Elmstead’s bowlers, with fine figures of 10-3-25-4, and he again starred with the bat, although it was not enough to prevent the hosts from subsiding to 190 all out.

All-rounder White and Mark Perrin (30) shared a fourth wicket stand worth 78, which took the score on to 112, but there was then an alarming slump. Martin Smith had earlier dismissed both openers, Jordan Elliott and Aidan O’Brien, while it was Jones who removed Perrin before Wakelin (9-1-26-3) and Ollie Cooke (10-0-39-2) bowled Witham to victory.

Another terrific innings from Liam Hope-Shackley proved insufficient to prevent Wivenhoe from tasting defeat for the sixth time this summer.

Hope-Shackley scored 95 off 72 balls, including nine sixes, as the hosts made 210 for nine off their 50 overs. Hope-Shackley was denied another century by Phil Palmer, who trapped him LBW on his way to figures of 10-1-38-3.

Skipper Matt Durrell was the only other batsman to make any real headway, with 39 at the top of the innings, Tim Scott returning to the attack to rip through the middle order with three for 21 off his 10 overs.

Wivenhoe still looked on course for victory, when Mistley stumbled along to 140 for six in their reply, still 71 short of their target, despite a good stand of 75 between Graeme Butcher (31) and captain Daniel Goff (42 off 46 balls.

It was left to Stuart Dove (43 not out) and Tim Scott (34no) to see Mistley home to a fine win, with four wickets and 10 balls in hand.

Over at Drapers Farm Sports Club, Maldon kept their nerve to defeat visiting Woolpit, who had won the toss and decided to bat.

James Holmes top scored with 54 not out, batting at No. 7, as the hosts made a below-par 174. Matt Wild again impressed with the ball, taking four for 28 off his 10 overs, while new ball partner Toby Pugh’s 10 overs cost just 22 runs.

Maldon were soon in trouble at 32 for three, with Alex Packer dismissing both Martyn Coker and Wild, but it was the middle order who stood firm to see Mistley home by three wickets.

Ian Elliott (31), skipper Chris Harris (45) and Matthew Coppen (46 not out) all made vital contributions, as did Ross Walpole (21) at No. 7. They won with 11 balls in hand.

Elsewhere in Division One, Braintree were officially relegated following their three-wicket defeat at the hands of Frinton 2nds.

Braintree were restricted to 160 for nine off 50 overs. Daniel Chalk (47) and skipper William Jackson (36) put on 42 for the fifth wicket to give the score some respectability.

John Hambrook then struck an unbeaten 51 at No. 3 to guide the visitors to victory with five overs in hand, despite the best efforts of Louis Cant (10-2-35-4).

Haverhill look likely to join Braintree in Division Two next season, after they were crushed by nine wickets at Halstead.

Second-from-bottom Haverhill were restricted to 185 for eight, Josh Ruthven scoring 60, before Chris Huntington then took charge with a blistering 123 not out in Halstead’s reply.

Huntington smashed 13 fours and four sixes, putting on an unbroken stand of 150 for the second wicket with Mark Johnson (50 not out).

The other match in Division One saw Hadleigh win away at Worlington by five wickets. Chris Baugh struck an unbeaten 115 off 108 balls for Worlington, who amassed 252 for six, aided by James Watson (56).

But Brock Price responded with 127 not out, putting on a match-winning 166 for the sixth wicket with Josh Davey, who made 72.

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