A defiant rearguard action from Swardeston salvaged a draw at home to Horsford – and helped them extend their lead at the top of the table to 11 points.

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The hosts were heading for defeat at 105 for eight in reply to Horsford’s 242 when skipper Mark Thomas and Michael Eccles joined forces in a ninth wicket stand of 98 – a club record for the EAPL.

After Thomas was dismissed, one run short of his maiden EAPL century, 15-year-old Matthew Taylor managed to fend off the Horsford attack to ensure the draw, with Eccles finishing unbeaten on nine from 80 balls.

Swardeston’s middle order had crumbled at the hands of Nathan Perry-Warnes, who took on the role of chief destroyer in the absence of skipper Chris Brown and finished with figures of six for 51.

Earlier, James Wild hit his first century of the season to help Horsford recover from 24 for three, sharing in a fourth wicket stand of 71 with opener Matthew Spenceley (38).

Wild made 114 from 134 balls, including 12 fours and five sixes, before he was the ninth man out. Eccles (five for 51) and Thomas (four for 33) had preceded their batting effort with outstanding bowling stints.

Swardeston’s resistance took on added significance as title rivals Vauxhall Mallards slipped to a seven-wicket defeat at Saffron Walden.

Mallards had chosen to bat first and reached 72 for two, with Matt Plater and Christiaan Schoeman moving along nicely.

Schoeman’s dismissal sparked a dramatic collapse as Mallards slumped to 88 for eight, with Ali Shearer, Cei Sanderson, Richard Goodenough, Paul Bradshaw and Tom Brice all falling cheaply. Plater continued to battle but he was the ninth man out, for 47, as Mallards were dismissed for 128 in the 43rd over.

Bradshaw had opener Andy Laws caught behind to the third ball of the Walden reply and two more quick wickets left Mallards sensing victory with the hosts on 12 for three.

Giles Ecclestone (62no) was then joined by Jason Gallian (53no) and they proceeded to win the game for Walden, reaching their target in the 34th over.

Bradshaw was Mallards’ best bowler, taking two for 18 from 11 overs.

Great Witchingham recorded their third victory in four games as they won by 94 runs at Sudbury.

Witchingham chose to bat first and their innings was dominated by opener James Spelman, who fired his third league century of the summer.

Spelman made 103 from 170 balls, including 14 fours, and a seventh wicket stand of 49 with Matthew Hale (31) helped Witchingham post 199 all out.

Witchingham had to wait for their first wicket, but Ben Ringer produced a run out and then seamer Jonathan Spelman (four for 46) and spinner James Hale (five for 26) wreaked havoc, bowling Sudbury out for 105 in the 44th over.

Copdock & Old Ipswichian moved into third place after thrashing bottom side Halstead by nine wickets, while Bury St Edmunds beat Burwell by four wickets.

Essex’s Greg Smith starred in Clacton’s eight-wicket win against Cambridge Granta, taking six wickets and hitting an unbeaten century.

SCOREBOARD

• Copdock & Old Ipswichian 175-1 (A Gravell 91no, 25 points) beat Halstead 171 (D Sincuba 94, John East 5-36, 2 points) by nine wickets at Copdock

• Saffron Walden (25) beat Vauxhall Mallards (1) by seven wickets at Saffron Walden

Vauxhall Mallards: C Amos c Parmenter b Batcheler 24, D Turner c Parmenter b Barrs 8, M Platter st Parmenter b Larsen 47, C Schoeman c Laws b Batticciotto 20, A Shearer b Sneath 1, C Sanderson lbw Sneath 0, R Goodenough c Parmenter b Batticciotto 0, P Bradshaw c Laws b Batticciotto 4, T Brice lbw Batticciotto 2, S Lipshaw not out 11, M Addison c&b Larsen 5; Extras 6; Total 128 (42.1 ovs). Bowling: N Batcheler 9-2-26-1, J Barrs 8-3-29-1, G Batticciotto 13-4-31-4, J Sneath 9-2-37-2, S Larsen 3.1-2-4-2

Saffron Walden: A Laws c Goodenough b Bradshaw 0, G Ecclestone not out 62, G Batticciotto c Schoeman b Addison 6, A Jackson lbw Bradshaw 1, J Gallian not out 53; Extras 9; Total 131-3 (33.5 ovs). Bowling: P Bradshaw 11-2-18-2, M Addison 9-1-32-1, T Brice 6-1-31-0, S Lipshaw 7.5-2-44-0

• Great Witchingham (30) beat Sudbury (5) by 94 runs at Sudbury

Great Witchingham: JM Spelman st Mansfield b Reece 103, J Hale c Moulton-Day b Hyett 18, S Arthurton Jnr c Mansfield b Gallagher 10, T Collishaw c&b Fernando 0, W Lonsdale lbw b Hasantha Fernando 0, JO Spelman c Poulson b Reece 5, A Goodrum c&b Fernando 12, M Hale b Gallagher 31, B Ringer c Batch b Reece 1, S Groves not out 5, M Law lbw b Gallagher 0; Extras 14; Total 199 (62.5 ovs). Bowling: J Gallagher 10.5-1-34-3, B Moulton-Day 6-0-40-0, B Hyett 18-2-51-1, H Fernando 14-5-28-3, D Batch 5-0- 6-0, B Reece 9-3-29-3

Sudbury: P Siegert c S Arthurton Jnr b Hale 15, J Phillips run out (Ringer) 18, D Batch c Lonsdale b JO Spelman 6, J Poulson lbw JO Spelman 23, H Fernando c Collishaw b Hale 18, B Reece b Hale 0, A Mansfield b JO Spelman 1, W Shropshire c S Arthurton Jnr b JO Spelman 5, J Gallagher not out 12, B Moulton-Day c Goodrum b Hale 0, B Hyett b Hale 0; Extras 7; Total 105 (43.2 ovs). Bowling: W Lonsdale 6-2-8-0, JM Spelman 6-1-25-0, JO Spelman 16-2-46-4, James Hale 15.2-8-26-5

• Swardeston (11) drew with Horsford (15) at The Common

Horsford: M Spenceley lbw Parlane 38, M Warnes lbw b Eccles 0, L Caswell lbw b Eccles 4, C Sabburg c Lambert b Thomas 11, J Wild c Lambert b Thomas 114, N Perry-Warnes c Gray b Eccles 25, M Warnes c Gray b Eccles 2, W Bryan c Lambert b Eccles 19, J Leck b Thomas 20, A Dismore lbw b Thomas 0, A Lincoln not out 0, Extras 9; Total 242 (58.3 overs). Bowling: M Eccles 15-2-51-5, M Thomas 11.3-2-33-4, M Taylor 10-0-43-0, G Walker 9-0-60-0, M Parlane 13-1-49-1

Swardeston: J Taylor b Warnes 1, M Parlane c Wild b Perry-Warnes 27, S Gray b Perry-Warnes 16, P Lambert b Perry-Warnes 6, C Taylor c Dismore b Wild 20, I Tufts lbw Perry-Warnes 0, G Walker c Sabburg b Caswell 4, J Elliott b Perry-Warnes 12, M Thomas lbw Perry-Warnes 99, M Eccles not out 9, M Taylor not out 7; Extras 9; Total 210-9 (61 overs). Bowling: M Warnes 12-3-42-1, L Caswell 14-3-60-1, N Perry-Warnes 18-8-51-6, J Wild 16-5-39-1, C Sabburg 1-0-12-0

• Bury St Edmunds 204-6 (A Jhunjhunwala 75, 25 points) beat Burwell 203-9 (5 points) by four wickets at Bury

• Clacton 251-2 (G Smith 111no, G Brown 71, 25 points) beat Cambridge Granta 250-9 (C Park 80, G Smith 6-69, 7 points) by eight wickets at Clacton

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