Old Boys keep up the pressure with win over Benfleet

Aaron Lucas - pleased to secure another victory

Aaron Lucas - pleased to secure another victory

First published in Sport by

OLD Southendian & Southchurch kept their promotion push on track with a 117-run win over Benfleet.

The Old Boys posted 248-9 from their 50-over allocation and then bowled their visitors out for 131 in 39.3 overs.

It ended Benfleet’s hopes of securing a hat-trick of league wins but kept Southendian firmly on the tail of league leaders Harlow Town.

“It was another good win for us and means that we have won our last four games which is keeping us on a roll,” said Old Boys captain Aaron Lucas.

“We got 240 on the board, which was above average on a damp wicket, and it was good to see Rob producing the goods and our Aussie Michael getting 48.

“The conditions made it hard for our quicker opening bowlers but the spin bowlers were always going to be key and that was the case.

“I’m pleased with how we are performing and it’s keeping us on track. But it’s such a tight division that anything can happen. There’s four teams who have a good chance of getting the two promotion places.

“We just have to on winning and hope the others slip up a bit.”

Rob Johnston maintained his good form with the bat by opening the Old Southendian innings with 74 runs.

Fellow opener Max Craddock departed for 10 but Michael Hill (48) and Lucas (59) piled on the runs.

Their contributions proved vital though as the Old Boys’ tail collapsed with three wickets falling for single-figure scores and another two for ducks as Mark Acraman (4-56) and John Bull (3-25) got among the wickets.

Graeme Valentine (26) and Stephen Reeve (30) got the Benfleet reply off to a good start but then the reply struggled as the wickets tumbled.

David Wright, on his return to first team action, Gareth Steed, Rob Zammit and James Wilkins all got into double figures but were unable to build on the platform. And three ducks ended the resistance as Sam Hodgson (3- 12), Adam Hunt (3-32) and Michael Bunce (2-22) did the business with the ball.

Benfleet captain James Wilkins said: “We were very unlucky and just did not get the rub of the green. We were 69 for none and then all out for 130.

“We actually had a good team out and were confident of getting a result. It was a getable total as the pitch improved as the match went on, but we just didn’t get the rub of the green.”

The win puts Old Southendian two points adrift of Harlow Town, who have a match in hand, and a point clear of Stanford le Hope, who were relegated with the Old Boys last year.

Stanford ensured they remain in the promotion mix with a crushing 211-run defeat of Woodford Green.

Ross Poulton had a day to remember for the hosts as he topscored with a knock of 137, while Michael Gray hit 85 as Stanford posted 338-5 from their 50 overs.

Poulton then claimed 4-16 as Woodford Green were bowled out for 127 in 31.3 overs.

Basildon & Pitsea had hoped to end their three-match losing streak with a victory at home to bottom-of-the-table Epping. But the match at Mopsies Park was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch.

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