BENFLEET have a spring in their step after securing their first league win of the season at the seventh attempt.
The Woodside park team were bowled out for 169 but then put Woodford Green to the sword for 127 to secure a 36-run victory after the visitors had been set a revised target due to rain.
Skipper James Wilkins said the team were buzzing after the match and will now be looking to kick on.
“It has really lifted us,” said Wilkins. "We made a bit of a hash of the batting and were out for 169.
“There were some good partnerships but Rob Zammit weighed in with some runs when it looked like we were going to get a lower total than we did. Rob batted really well and got us to a respectable total.
“Everyone applied themselves with the ball, which was needed with such a low total and we took our catches.
“We have people showing signs of form and this win will take a lot of the pressure off. It has given everyone a lift and will free them up more as players. The lads were buzzing after the match. It was a real lift for everyone and I expect us to push on now.”
Benfleet opted to bat after winning the toss and former captain Andy Prophet hit 20, Stephen Reeve 15 and Graeme Valentine 12 early on. But Zammit’s 50 and 10 from Mark Acraman helped them reach 169 all out from 44.1 overs against an attack led by Mashood Qazi (3-26).
Anthony Palmer (31) and Haroon Hafeez (23no) led the run chase but Gareth Steed (3-21), Reeve (2-6) and Acraman (2-14) did the damage, while 15-year-old Matt Mason (1-27) took a wicket on his first team debut as Woodford Green were bowled out for 127 in 37.1 overs.
Overseas player Michael Hill continued his fine form for Old Southendian & Southchurch as they defeated an understrength Basildon & Pitsea side by seven wickets.
The hosts had eight first XI regulars unavailable due to a stag weekend and they were bowled out for 109 in 27.5 overs by the promotion-pushing Old Boys, who replied with 110-3 in 22.5 overs.
“All the bowlers chipped in but Michael Hill got a five for and you just can't keep him out of the headlines at the moment,” said Southendian captain Aaron Lucas.
“He has got two centuries in recent matches and then took five wickets against Basildon, so he is definitely worth the air fare.
“But everyone is doing well at the moment and it was a professional performance. We knew there was a bit of rain about so we had to be quite clinical.
“We had a bit of a rain delay but because we had bowled them out quite quickly we had given ourselves plenty of time and a good chance.
“We rattled off the runs and the win keeps us on track ahead of our trip to Epping next Saturday.”
Seventeen-year-old Yash Patel scored 21 on his first team debut, Rob Davies 20, James Butler 18 and AnandKumar Ganesan an unbeaten 17 in Basildon’s knock at Mopsies Park.
Australian player Hill took 5-46 from his 10 overs, two of which were maidens, while Adam Hunt claimed an economical 2-13 from 3.5 overs.
Rob Johnston smashed an unbeaten 56, with Max Craddock (24) and Lucas (13) chipping in for the Old Boys. Ben Munday and Ganesan took a wicket each, with the other wicket being a run -out.
“We were missing eight players and I think we would have struggled even if we had our full team out because Old Southendian are a decent team,” said Basildon captain Michael Gray.
“It was always going to be difficult and to be honest we half expected the result. As it turned out, we were never in the game. Our only real hope was going to be the rain.
“Yash batted well on his first team debut and James and Rob came in and did me a favour. Rob hasn't played for a couple of years and we are hoping to get him back again.”
Stanford-le-Hope took over at the top of the table courtesy of their six-wicket win over Old Brentwoods. But the leaders have played two games more than second-placed Harlow Town, who trail them by two points.
And it was a case of mission accomplished for Stanford skipper Lee Knight, who wanted a win from his team as they do not have a game next Saturday. Old Brentwoods were dismissed for 116 in 28.1 overs before Stanford hit a winning 117-4 off 27.4 overs.
“We had them at 70-4 and then ran through them,” said Knight. “We always facied our chances because they play quite attacking cricket and we knew if we could get a few early wickets it would help.
“Ross did a great job with the ball and so did Dylan and Greg.
“We came off a couple of times in our innings because of the rain but in the end it was a pretty comfortable win.
“We do not have a game on Saturday, so we knew it was important to put a bit of distance between us and the teams around us.”
Old Brentwoods lost their opening batsmen for ducks before the middle order salvaged some runs, with Taranjeet Ladhar (39) offering most resistance.
But Ross Poulton did the most damage with 4-14 from a seven-over spell which boasted three maidens. Dylan Eginton took 3-32 and Greg Barr 2-35 to set up the win.