DEAN Waller sang Leigh-on-Sea’s praises after they recorded their “most complete performance of the season”.
Leigh recorded their third win in as many matches against rivals Fives & Heronians to keep them in the promotion hunt and have shown a high level of consistency in the last two months, racking up seven wins from a possible nine.
And they made light work of Fives, thanks to an unbeaten 85 from number seven Joe Sexton.
Put into bat first Dean Waller’s side got off to a tricky start. Stuart Elliot was out with only four on the board whilst Al Lawrence was caught lbw for a duck.
Leigh needed a response and returning Harry Slack and Billy King provided it. Both looked in great nick at the crease and looked well onto their way to reaching high scores, but they were dismissed by two outstanding balls – Slack clean bowled for 62 and King for 43.
Waller added 24 and then came Sexton to provide the telling knock. His 85 runs came at the perfect time for Leigh and took their tally up to 285-8, with help from the batsmen at the tail end.
Waller said Orsett’s defeat to Billericay opened the door for his team to push on and said he felt Leigh could win all four of their remaining games to win promotion “It was a complete performance, our best of the season by all accounts. To see Joe bat so well down the order was pleasing but he can bat anywhere from number three to number seven, and that flexibility really helps us.”
And the bowlers also played their part in an emphatic win, Paddy Groves and Iain McDonald striking four times each to get Leigh over the line and win by an impressive 94 runs, skittling Fives for 191.
Fives got off to a solid start, and put on 90 for the opening wicket but once Gary Edwards (69) and Terry Ballard (21) were dismissed the wickets began to tumble. Groves in particular was in fine fettle – taking 4-27 in his eight overs, including three maidens.
Captain Waller said his side’s outstanding performance with bat and ball boded well for the closing weeks of the season.
“Only Hornchurch have been able to match us in the past months,” he said. “We can beat Horndon next week, and Belhus, Billericay and West Essex in our final matches. We have given ourselves a great chance.”
Billericay were another side in impressive form, winning at high-flying Orsett.
Stewart Rutland won the toss and elected to put the hosts in to bat but only Mohammed Ahktar (60) and Lewis Lockyer (31) put up any real resistance as Orsett crumbled to 158 all out.
Billericay came to the crease with fire in their bellies and Rutland smashed an impressive 41 with David Houghton (21), Paul Walter (25 not out) and Mark Harmer (30) all scoring well.
Billericay reached the target with seven overs remaining and for the loss of only five wickets to keep their slim promotion chances alive.
At the bottom of the league it is all over bar the singing for Westcliff as they continued their winless run, despite taking Horndon right to the wire.
Batting first, Westcliff had Gareth Bull (92) to thank for dragging them to a respectable total of 193-6 from their 50 overs.
Horndon struggled early on, but reached the target with three overs remaining.
Connor Hammond (46) was Horndon’s top scorer and an impressive late contribution from Merja (36 not out) pushed the visitors over the line and, thanks to West Essex’s defeat, out of the relegation zone for the first time in more than two months.