MARSHALL HATCHICK TWO COUNTIES CHAMPIONSHIP DIVISION TWO: Braintree 213-1 beat Long Melford 209-9 by nine wickets: Long Melford’s winless run stretched to eight games as a crushing nine wicket defeat at Braintree left them just 14 points clear of safety.
Joe Harvey’s side visited St Peters Close to take on the Division Two title challengers, with Melford winning the toss and opting to bat first.
Tom Barnard and Dale Brett opened the Melford innings, and despite some encouragement from the Braintree fielders, progressed well through the first 19 overs to reach 80 before Brett was caught at slip for 22.
Barnard kept the run rate going when he was joined by Jason Wade, reaching his half century from only 63 balls.
When Wade was adjudged for lbw in the 27th over and the score standing at 97-2, Harvey entered the fray at number four and began to attack the Braintree bowlers.
Barnard also began opening the face of the bat, which eventually led to his dismissal for an entertaining 79.
The Melford captain continued to carry the fight for the visitors, reaching 50 from 39 balls, before failing to clear deep backward square leg and being caught out for 51.
Dan Heath was then bowled cheaply for four, with Adam Matthews (21) expertly marshalling the tail to bat for the majority of the remaining overs.
Melford posted a challenging total of 209 from their 45 overs, with the hosts starting the run chase with openers Lachlan Ford and Dean Bass.
The duo were quite clearly in the mood to fight as Gareth Boon and Wade began in the Melford attack.
The introduction of Stuart Whitehart and Barnard after nine overs eventually saw the visitors find a breakthrough as Ford was caught at slip by Steve Hale for 52.
However Bass remained firm at the crease, with new batsmen Rory Ainsley starting positively as the Melford bowlers had no answer.
Bass reached 50 from a marathon 86 balls and ended the Braintree innings unbeaten with a knock of 93.
While Ainsley took just 52 balls to complete his half century, finishing the run chase with an unbeaten 67 to see Braintree home with nine wickets to spare.
n In Division Six, Long Melford II picked up their third consecutive victory, seeing off West Mersea by five wickets.
Ivan Newman (5-36) and Dave Routledge (3-60) shattered the Mersea batting order, with Luke Conway the only man to put up any resistance with a well-made 52.
The last two Mersea wickets were claimed by Lorro Hall in the space of nine deliveries without conceding a run, before Bill Byford (44) helped reach the target of 103.