STANFORD le Hope claimed their first win of the season by beating early season leaders Old Southendian & Southchurch by seven wickets.

The Old Boys dropped to second after the defeat but only saw two batsmen flourish in their 213-7 total.

Skipper Aaron Lucas led from the front with a knock of 93 before being run out by Kevin Smith.

And wicketkeeper Rob Johnston maintained his early season form with the bat with 82 before being trapped lbw by Ross Poulton.

But Sandeep Muraleedharan (11) was the only other Southendian batsmen into double figure against an attack led by Poulton (3-71).

Stanford openers Smith (38) and Martin Leslie (35) made inroads into the total, but it was Lee Knight and Poulton who scored the crucial runs.

Poulton followed up his three for with 64 runs before being bowled by Sam Hodgson (1-6), while skipper Lee Knight clubbed an unbeaten 53 and was partnered by Michael Gray (6no) as the visitors posted a winning 214-3.

Michael Hill (1-34) and Adam Hunt (1-70) claimed the other Old Boys’ wickets.

The win moved Stanford up to fourth in table after the opening game of the season was abandoned and skipper Lee Knight admitted he was relieved the team got a win under their belt.

“The main thing was to get a win after last week and because this was quite an important game for us,” said Knight.

“At the start of the campaign we said Old Brentwoods and Old Southendian would be there or there abouts, so it was important to get a win against Old Southendian.

“We fancied our chances and Aaron and Rob batted the majority of their innings.

“We controlled the middle part of the game and they had to go for quick runs and that let us pick up wickets.”

Old Southendian skipper Aaron Lucas felt his team’s opening day win may have had an impact against Stanford, who were relegated from Division Two with the Old Boys last year.

“We were probably a little bit over confident but I knew Stanford would be one of the better sides in the division,” Lucas said.

“I thought 213 was a par score for the conditions but for the first time this season we did not bowl particularly well as a unit and it has cost us the game.

“Highest respect to their two guys who came in because they did not give us any real chances at all.

“But we still took nine points from the game and are second in the table, so it’s not a terrible result.”

Benfleet suffered a 133-run defeat as they were unable to deal with Harlow Town’s batsmen.

Gareth Steed, Aaron Toner and Rob Zammit took a wicket each for the visitors but Benfleet could not stop Harlow posting 292-3 declared.

Joe Holland hit an unbeaten 81 and Shiraz Ali 72 to set a formidable target for Benfleet.

Gary Whitbourn (35) and Gavin Blowes (48) led the run chase at the top of the order, despite Benfleet losing a few cheap wickets.

Former skipper Andy Prophet scored 16 runs and Steed hit an unbeaten 36 but saw his batting partners all perish for single figures before Benfleet were bowled out for 159 in 45.4 overs.

Ramya Upadhyay led the Harlow attack with 4-24, while Ashley Alderson and Ronnie Yates took a brace of wickets each.

Benfleet captain James Wilkins admitted he was not happy with the performance but could not fathom out why his bowlers had misfired.

“We had a few people missing but our bowling performance was just poor because it was not a 292 deck,” said Wilkins, who broke a finger wicketkeeping in the first over.

“Bowling has not been a problem for us in the past and last week we rolled Woodford Green over for 130, so I can’t put my finger on why we were bad this week.

“We were looking OK at one point with the bat by then we started regularly losing wickets. it was just a bad day for us