Champions Worlington suffer heartache of play-off semi-final defeat

Thomas Piddington, who took five for 32 after earlier scoring 87 with the bat in Hadleigh's vital wi

Thomas Piddington, who took five for 32 after earlier scoring 87 with the bat in Hadleigh's vital win over Woolpit. Hadleigh therefore avoided relegation from Division One. Picture: SEANA HUGHES

Worlington’s hopes of winning promotion to the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League were dashed by a play-off semi-final defeat at the hands of Saffron Walden on Sunday.

Jimmy Watson top-scored with 75 in Worlington's play-off defeat to Saffron Walden. Picture: ANDY ABB

Jimmy Watson top-scored with 75 in Worlington's play-off defeat to Saffron Walden. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Archant

xFresh from winning the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship, to qualify for the four-way showdown, Worlington were defeated by three wickets at the Anglo American Playing Fields.

Hosts Saffron Walden, who won the Cambs & Hunts Premier League title, will now face Norwich in the final.

Norwich had been consigned to bottom spot of the East Anglian Premier League, due to the combination of themselves losing at champions Sudbury last Saturday, and rivals Bury St Edmunds thrashing Frinton by 10 wickets. But just 24 hours later and Norwich defeated Norfolk Alliance champions Fakenham, to set up a final clash with Saffron Walden.

Worlington had warmed up for Sunday’s semi-final by beating bottom club Elmstead, the defending champions, by nine wickets to end the regular season a healthy 47 points clear at the top of Division One. The West Suffolk club tasted victory in 17 of their 22 matches, and only suffered one defeat all summer.

But their promotion ambitions were quickly thwarted by Saffron Walden, who restricted them to 231 all out off their 50 overs.

Skipper Ziaf Kulasi had won the toss and elected to bat, but he was dismissed for a duck from the fourth ball he received, which was a massive blow to the team.

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Opener Graham Ford (28) and Jimmy Watson (75) added 47 for the second wicket, before Watson and all-rounder Mark Nunn (66) put on 103 for the third wicket to boost the score to 151.

However, Worlington then lost their last eight wickets for the addition of just 80 runs, opening bowlers Joe Barrs (10-1-43-4) and Alex Hancock (10-1-29-3) doing the main damage.

Saffron Walden were struggling on 59 for four in their reply, but they turned the game around thanks to the biggest partnership of the match as opener Simon Parmenter (72) and Barrs (72) added 132 for the fifth wicket.

Nun finished with three for 35, but Saffron Walden eased home with 5.4 overs to spare, Ben Harris finishing on 19 not out.

Meanwhile, Frinton 2nds were relegated along with Elmstead from Division One, after losing by five wickets at Coggeshall.

Tom Sinclair struck 123 at the top of the innings, having put on 150 for the second wicket with John Hambrook (67), as Frinton posted a useful 269 for five off 50 overs.

However, William Blackwell hit an aggressive 109 off 94 balls, and Robert Cross contributed 71, as Coggeshall reached their target with 1.3 overs in hand.

Hadleigh escaped relegation by beating fourth-placed Woolpit by 150 runs at Friars Road.

The hosts scored 266 for six, boosted by eighties from opener Alex Milnes (82) and Thomas Piddington (87). Josh Davey (38) put on 100 for the second wicket with Milnes. All-rounder Piddington then claimed figures of 10-0-32-5 to ensured Hadleigh’s Division One safety, aided by Matthew Kent (10-2-20-2).

Ipswich finished fourth-from-bottom, to complete a satisfactory season, losing to runners-up Witham by 55 runs. Witham made 234 for nine, James Smith top-scoring with 59. Damien Smith bowled superbly (10-2-23-2). Skipper and opener Joe Rusby hit 54, but Ipswich finished well short on 179 for seven.

Mistley guaranteed their safety with a seven-wicket win over Wivenhoe Town. Matt Durrell scored 100 for the visitors, out of a below-par total of 156 for nine, Daniel Goff ripping through the middle order with three for 20 off 10 overs, and Phil Palmer dismissing Durrell and cleaning up the tail with four wickets.

James Scott (60 not out) and Callum O’Connell (59no) shared an unbroken stand of 95 to see Mistley home with 10 overs left.

Lakenheath secured the Division Two title, despite losing by 24 runs at Clacton. The Essex hosts were bowled out for 155, Edward Garrard taking four for 36, but Lakenheath were then dismissed for 131, despite 36 from opener Chris Baugh.

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