Lakenheath hit the summit
Lakenheath (202-6) now lead the way in the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship Division Two standings following Saturday’s two-run home win at the expense of Braintree (200).
The two sides went into the contest sitting in second and third place respectively, but a loss for leaders Haverhill at Clacton-on-Sea has seen Lakenheath hit the summit with five matches remaining.
Electing to bat first, Lakenheath’s openers started cautiously and were shocked when the in-form Dominic Palmer was bowled for 36.
It meant Shane Leech joined Chris Baugh at the crease and both left-handers played the off spin with ease, with the latter reaching his sixth consecutive half century via a boundary.
Much to his disappointment, he was dismissed next ball for a solid 52, and Leech (20) soon followed.
It was left to Adam Horrex to batter his second belligerent 50 of the season to allow Lakenheath to reach 202-6 at the close.
In reply, Chris Leech and Warren Celiz got the Essex visitors off to a positive start before Celiz was bowled by Carl Manels in the 16th over.
Chris Leech survived a strong appeal for caught behind, before he was run out by a direct hit from his namesake Shane.
Two quick wickets fell in succession and the game got quite tense as Braintree clawed their way back into the game.
The experienced pair of Barry Stephens and Rory Ainsley managed to get the third-placed side to within four runs of victory with four wickets and two overs left.
However, Ainsley played a needless rash shot and was caught by Danny Rodic at mid-off from the bowling of Baugh, and the home side were back in the game as Stephens played exactly the same shot, with the same outcome.
With two new batsman at the crease Rodic returned to clean bowl the number 10 batsman, and a few swings and misses followed before the final wicket fell leaving Lakenheath victors from a contest they had looked like losing two overs previously.
The new table-toppers will aim to consolidate their position when they play host to fifth-placed East Bergholt on Saturday (1pm).