A much depleted 1st XI travelled to Little Bardfield, aiming to make it three wins in a row at the start of the new season. With 7 players absent due to stag-do commitments, Maldon still fielded a strong side, handing debuts to Luke Reeve and James Stock.
Recent captain Toby Pugh stood in for the day, and lost what appeared to be a vital toss as Maldon were invited to bat on a pitch that was very damp, but looked set to dry out and become easier to bat on as the day progressed.
Some wayward early bowling presented opener Martyn Coker with scoring opportunities, and he struck three early boundaries, including two sixes in the fourth over. Harry Grant departed for 3, but Matt Shinn batted positively, scoring 39 from 53 balls with 6 boundaries. When he was out, the score was 93/2 as Ian Elliott came to the crease.
Elliott and Coker added 33 before Elliott was caught at mid on for 22, as the Maldon batters continued to find conditions tricky.
Not long after, Coker departed lbw to Rory Hitchcock for 49, with Jamie Brown out shortly after for 2. The score was now 132/5.
Angus Beames and Connah Thompson looked to add a quick flurry of runs, with Thompson striking powerfully over the leg side. Beames came down the pitch to spinner Joe Owen, and was stumped for 9.
Luke Reeve and James Stock supported Thompson, who made 39 from 32 balls from his own blade before succumbing in the final over in the search for quick runs.
A final total of 201 from 45 overs was a good effort from the makeshift Maldon line up, but with conditions now easing they would need to bowl and field well to claim victory number 3 of the year.
Reliable opening pair Connah Thompson and Finlay Jones started accurately, with Bardfield finding the boundary on occasion.
Excellent deliveries by Jones and then Harry Grant dismissed both openers, and left the hosts 42/2.
Spinners Toby Pugh and Ian Elliott bowled tightly thereafter, with Bardfield captain Richard Linney looking key to the games outcome.
Having struggled to score, Joe Owen found Angus Beames on the boundary to give Pugh his first wicket of the day, before Elliott claimed the main scalp of Linney for 43.
In tense circumstances, Bardfield struggled to score- from needing 83 from 84 balls to win, they soon found that had become 65 from the final 6 overs.
The best efforts of Rory Hitchcock and Alan Kemp were in vain as Maldon ran out victors by 9 runs. Next week we host Haverhill at Drapers Farm with far more selection options for returning captain Ross Walpole to consider.
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