STANFORD-LE-HOPE had targeted a winning start to the season and so far it has been going exactly to plan.

The team were relegated from Division Two last summer but have hit the ground running with two wins and one game abandoned.

Stanford took over at the top of the table from Woodford Green with a 68-run win over Epping which left skipper Lee Knight satisfied with the start to the campaign.

“We targeted the start of the season to get some points because over the last couple of years the start of the season has been a problem for us,” Knight said. “So I’m pleased with how things have gone for us so far.”

Stanford were put into bat by their visitors and started well, scoring 45 runs after the first seven overs.

But as the ball got older and the pitch started playing up, Stanford started losing wickets.

Michael Gray (44) and New Zealand overseas player Dylan Eginton (28) steadied the ship but the team were forced off by a downpour. They came out and Stanford declared on 200-9 after 44.4 overs.

Epping’s reply started well as they reached 60-1 but a change of bowling had the desired effect as the visitors were bowled out for 132 in 34.4 overs, with Ross Poulton taking four wickets and Eginton three.

“The pitch seemed to play pretty well during their innings, which was frustrating, and they were cruising,” added Knight.

“But we made some changes to the bowling and it worked.

“A lot of teams struggled with the weather so it was a good day to get a win.”

Basildon & Pitsea fell 11 runs short of beating Woodford Green, who went into the match leading Division Three.

But Basildon, skippered by Lloyd Lambert because Michael Gray was on holiday, had to settle for a draw away to Woodford.

Basildon opted to bowl after winning the toss and AnandKumar Ganesan (2-49) had opener Woodford Green Mark Smith out for a single.

His opening partner Anthony Palmer (34) saw Ganesan claim Masood Qazi for three to leave the hosts on 22-2.

Lambert had Palmer out lbw to make it 97-3 but Rana Arslan (74no) kept the scoreboard ticking over and was joined by Hamaad Sayyed (21no) before Woodford Green declared on 136-3 after 26 overs.

Basildon openers Steven Ayres (eight) and Danny Gray (four) went cheaply but Lambert (38) and Ganesan (31) steadied the reply.

Tom Poole went for four but Muhammad Ali hit an unbeaten 23 to keep Basildon on course.

However Jon Bonnett (three) and Sonny Downes (eight) were unable to support Ali as Basildon reached 126-8 after 25 overs and the match finished in a draw which saw Basildon to the foot of the table.

Old Southendian & Southchurch picked up six points from their abandoned game at Old Brentwoods and are third in the table.

Benfleet did not have a game due to the withdrawal of Pegasus & Corringham from the league.