Saffron Walden into round two
Saffron Walden scraped into the second round of the ECB National Club Championship with a three-run win over Woodford Wells.
Sunday May 30 saw the remaining five ties in the first Round played, as well as the first fixture in the second round.
And the closest match of the day was at Monkhams Lane where Woodford Wells welcomed erstwhile Essex League opponents Saffron Walden. With the visitors now playing in the East Anglian Premier League this tie brought a chance for a further competitive fixture between the two clubs.
Saffron Walden won the toss and batted first. Former England plater Jason Gallian struggled for 31 balls in scoring only three as Tom Clark drew first blood for Woodford Wells dismissing the retired county cricketer. With contributions from four key batsmen Saffron Walden moved to 160 for three before the final assault on the bowling brought a flurry of wickets as the innings subsided to a disappointing 196 for eight.
Charlie Knightley was the top scorer with 64 while Rahul Patel took 3-33. Woodford Wells stumbled to 49 for three before Robert Leiper and Rahul Patel repaired some of the damage with a partnership of 42. But 91 for three quickly became 98 for six as the hosts suffered another mini collapse.
Andrew Gibbon (40 not out) then took charge of the run chase, but when Rory Ellison (28) was out was unable to find enough support to get over the finishing line as Saffron Walden kept their nerve in the field. When Simon Macleod was run out in the last over Saffron Walden had recorded a narrow win.
In Group 11, Finchampstead won the toss and elected to bat on their own patch. After losing a quick wicket Matthew Jones strode to the crease and compiled a very commanding century as he propelled his side to 218 for six.
Sunbury cruised to victory as Max Hall (66), Shane White (47) and Sean Ventham (69) took the visitors to the riches of 190 for one. Two quick wickets meant that none of these batsmen was at the crease when Sunbury reached their target with more than five overs to spare as in the end the Surrey side won by seven wickets.
Winchmore Hill won the toss and elected to bat in their home match against Blackheath and were immediately in trouble against the opening spell from Ruel Brathwaite (3-20). Morgan Prior (67) led the fight-back for the Middlesex side as he joined opener Steve Gent (28) at the crease, but the run rate was always low against a very accurate Blackheath attack.
The other main contribution came from Andy Barrell (41 not out) as the innings closed on 169 for six. Blackheath made short work of their run chase as openers Zobie Sharif (70 not out) and Alex Senn (69) showed how to bat in the conditions as the Kent side won by nine wickets with 14 overs to spare.
Brentwood hosted Hainault & Clayhall, and the home side batted first and started well, had a troubled middle to their innings but then picked up the pace towards the end of their allotted overs. Openers Jonathan Walford (48) and Aaron West (36) had a good opening stand but once they were parted wickets fell quickly until the sixth wicket partnership between Ronnie Saunders (53) and Graeme Walker (33) repaired the damage caused by Sohaid Waqar (3-24), Brentwood closing with a par score of 215 for eight.
Hainault’s innings followed a similar pattern at first as the top three batsmen got their side off to a good start. The introduction of Ian Belchamber to the attack proved to be the turning point as he captured the wicket of opener Ettinder Bopara for 63 and then ran through the opponent’s batting with a devastating spell taking 6-34. Hainault & Clayhall after an excellent start were hustled out for 187 leaving Brentwood winners by 28 runs.
The second round tie at Lytham was another close affair. This time the match was a low-scoring nail-biting event. Visitors Heaton batted first after winning the toss and with only three batsmen reaching double figures they were grateful for these contributions as they struggled to 137 for nine in their 45 overs.
K Liversedge (43) top scored, with the only other significant scores from Gary Garner (31) and Oliver Sutcliffe (22). Anthony Mulligan (3-21) and Marcus Sharp (2-11) were the pick of a very miserly bowling attack.
When Lytham came to bat they followed almost exactly the same script as their opponents as, once again, only three batsmen reached double figures with Richard Openshaw (22) top scoring. The Heaton attack was just as miserly but the difference between the two sides was that Lytham were unable to bat their full allocation of overs as Callum Parkinson (3-28) and the rest of the Heaton attack bowled their Liverpool Competition opponents out in the 42nd over with 16 runs still needed for victory.
Heaton, from the Bolton Association, will now wait to see who they host in the Group semi-final when Highfield play Colwyn Bay on Sunday.