Maldon hosted Wivenhoe on match day 11 of the Two Counties League season, looking to end the first half of the league campaign on a positive note.
The home side were again depleted through injury, giving young seam bowling all-rounder Henry Miller a 1st XI debut. It was the visitors who asked Maldon to field first. Wivenhoe openers Jacob Kelly and Matt Durrell started positively, Kelly in particular scoring freely early open.
Durrell fell for 13 in the 10th over as he tried to turn an Angus Beames delivery into the leg side, only for captain Toby Pugh to take a perfectly judged diving catch as he moved backwards from mid on.
Shortly afterwards, Ian Elliott struck with his first delivery, as Matt Osborne mistimed the ball to Harry Grant at mid wicket. At 85/2 from 15 overs, Wivenhoe continued to progress the score mostly from Kelly, while Australian Alex Osborne added support. Pugh and Elliott contained the scoring rate, but couldn’t make any further breakthroughs.
At 161/2 off 34 overs, Wivenhoe looked set to post a sizeable total. However, James Ellis struck in his first over, as Osborne was stumped by Jimmy Ainscough for 33. Ellis then caught Eddie Lucking off his own bowling, leaving Wivenhoe 182/4.
Kelly looked set for a century, but fell just short. On 99, he played back to a Martyn Coker delivery and was adjudged lbw by umpire Whitfield. Maldon continued to chip away at the wicket tally, with the fielders backing up the bowlers spectacularly. Grant took a superb diving catch at mid wicket off Coker, the spinner struck again as Angus Beames took a well judged catch on the boundary.
Ryan Savill hit two excellent straight sixes, before Ellis (3/38) and Coker (4/50) both took wickets in their final overs to stop Wivenhoe reaching 250, as they finished on 246/9 from their 50 overs.
The Maldon reply needed a good start, and the initial signs were positive. Max Bryant and Jimmy Ainscough looked in good touch in the early exchanges, before Ainscough fell lbw to Jamie Lucking for 7. Lucking then bowled Bryant for 23, who was soon followed back to the pavilion by Ian Elliott, who played on first ball to Euan Tickner.
Ben Gibbons (9), Ross Walpole (23) and James Ellis all fell in quick succession, as the Maldon batting line up failed to fire. With the score at 72/6 off 19 overs, Maldon still required 175 runs from 31 overs on a turning pitch, with just 4 wickets remaining- a seemingly impossible situation.
However, a club record breaking partnership bought Maldon back into the contest. Harry Grant and Martyn Coker started their partnership in positive manner, with Grant hitting Ryan Savill over long on for 6. Coker also found the boundary on occasion, as the score reached 99/6 at 25 overs.
Grant and Coker continued to build, both scoring at an even pace to each other. After 35 overs, the pair had reached 138/6, still 109 short of victory with 15 overs left. They added another 21 runs in the next 5, with Coker passing 50 in the 40th over. With 88 needed from the last 10, the pair had to increase the rate to give Maldon a chance.
They did so, with Coker leading the Maldon fight back. He struck a towering six off Kelly, before hitting 16 off the next over from Lucking. Maldon now needed 64 off 8, and were back in the contest. As the Wivenhoe nerves increased, Coker continued to hit boundaries. Grant passed 50 too, and the Maldon reached a tense finale with 32 needed from the final 2 overs.
Coker took 10 off the first 4 balls to move his own score to 99. However, with 22 needed from 8 balls, he was out attempting to hit a boundary, leaving him the second player to make 99 in the game. His 97 ball innings contained 11 fours and 3 sixes, and with Grant his stand of 152 broke a 27 year old club partnership of 125 for the 7th wicket between Neil Bannister and Will Dobie.
The Maldon tail tried in vain with Grant (53 not out), but Maldon came up 15 short. Despite the loss Maldon can take many positives from the game, and look to take a renewed sense of optimism into this weeks encounter with Woolpit at Drapers Farm.