Reece stars as Horsford bag top spot
GIBBS DENLEY EAPL: Horsford threw down the title race gauntlet as they went top for the first time this season.
And Swardeston moved up from third to second as they inflicted the first defeat of the season on Great Witchingham, who dropped to third after a month at the head of affairs.
Horsford had started the day 10 points behind Witchingham but they now have a 16-point advantage after a four-wicket win over bottom-of-the-table Norwich at Manor Park.
A good all-round display from Australian spinner Reece O' Connell held the key as he claimed 3 for 58 to restrict Norwich to 167-6 – a total based around Australian left-hander Erik Laubscher's disciplined unbeaten 73.
O'Connell, who went on to hit 65, then featured in a pivotal 101-run stand with opener Nathan Perry Warnes (49) as the hosts chased down the total in 48 overs.
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Meanwhile spinners George Walker and Jaden Hatwell shared eight wickets as Swardeston demolished morning leaders Great Witchingham by 113 runs.
Having been put in to bat, Swardeston posted 220-9. League individual record-breaker Joel Abraham (47) and Hatwell (49) added 57 for the third wicket and Ian Tufts (41) and Will Rist (32) put together a 55-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Witches' teenage spinner James Hale ripped out Swardeston's middle order, claiming 4-52 in 15 overs.
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Witchingham's reply saw Sam Thelwell have James Spelman caught behind for 13 and George Walker brought prolific Carl Rogers' golden run of form to a halt when he had his Norfolk colleague caught in the slips for 15 with his third ball.
Walker and Hatwell then turned the screw as Witchingham fell to 49-5. Tom Collishaw (35) and Shaun Arthurton (15) provided some resistance but Walker (12.1-5-30-4) and Hatwell (11-3-36-4) saw the visitors, whose title challenges have petered out after mid-season collapses for the past two seasons, bowled out in the 37th over.
Vauxhall Mallards stayed fourth as Ali Shearer's unbeaten half century helped them to a two-wicket win in a tense affair at Saffron Walden.
Shearer kept his composure as wickets tumbled around him as Mallards reached their 228 target in the 54th over, aided by 44 from opener Carl Amos and 45 from big-hitting Namibian international Gerrie Snyman.
An unbeaten 62 from tailender Neil Gladwin had earlier formed the cornerstone of Walden's 227 for 9 total, which saw Adam Todd and Richard Moores share six wickets for the visitors.
Lowly Clacton are now only two points above Norwich after their three-wicket defeat at Bury St Edmunds. The Seasiders collapsed to 135 all out with Philip Edwards claiming 4 for 24. But Stefanus Gericke made sure Bury fought all the way in their pursuit of the low target by bagging 4 for 34.
Matthew Spatcher's 4 for 32 underpinned rejuvenated Halstead's eight-wicket win over Burwell. Matthew Surry's unbeaten 50 saw them pass the 140 target in ther 31st over. Opener Kandage Fernando hit a brisk 65 in Sudbury's 170 total, with Cambridge Granta's Lewys Hill taking 5 for 31. Granta offered little in reply, succumbing to 98 all out inside 40 overs, bamboozled by spinner Ben Reece who took 6 for 25.
• EAPL SCOREBOARDS
• Halstead (141-4, 25 pts) beat Burwell (139, 2 pts) by six wickets at Burwell.
• Bury St Edmunds (136-7, 52 overs) beat Clacton (135, 3 pts) by three wickets.
• Horsford (25 pts) beat Norwich (6 pts) by four wickets at Manor Park.
Norwich: O Higenbottam c Matthew Warnes b Caswell 23, M Tipping c-b O'Connell 34, E Laubscher not out 73, C Borrett c Spenceley b O'Connell 7, B Wright c Smith b Michael Warnes 5, A M Watson c Spenceley b O'Connell 1, A Mhandu b Brown 4, J Blake not out 9; extras 11. Total (6 wkts, 59 overs) 167. Bowling: Michael Warnes 12-0-45-1, L Caswell 9-3-19-1, C Brown 18-4-31-1, R O'Connell 18-0-58-3, M Wilkinson 2-0-9-0.
Horsford: N Perry-Warnes 49, Matthew Warnes c Laubscher b Wiseman 0, R O'Connell c Flanagan b A M Watson 65, D Clark run out 19, L Caswell run out 27, C Spenceley c-b A M Watson 0, M Wilkinson not out 1, M Spenceley not out 2; extras 5. Total (6 wkts, 48 overs) 168. Bowling: P Wiseman 14-3-44-1, T Booth 5-0-13-0, C Borrett 5-0-22-0, A M Watson 15-3-48-3, B Flanagan 9-1-39-0.
• Vauxhall Mallards (25 pts) beat Saffron Walden (12 pts) by two wickets at Saffron Walden.
Saffron Walden: J Barrs c Goodenough b Todd 24, G Gillard b Todd 8, G Ecclestone b Moores 9, S Parmenter c Snyman b Moores 36, A Laws c Goodenough b Moores 11, A Marjoribanks lbw Snyman 18, T Smith c Potger b Snyman 12, N Gladwin not out 62, R Done lbw Potger 16, N Batcheler b Bradshaw 9, D Cousins not out 1; extras 21. Total (9 wkts, 66 overs) 227. Bowling: P Bradshaw 14-5-49-1, A Todd 10-1-48-2, R Moores 13-3-41-3, G Snyman 18-4-44-2, S Potger 11-2-29-1.
Vauxhall Mallards: C Amos c Parmenter b Barrs 44, D Turner b Smith 14, R Moores c Parmenter b Barrs 8, G Snyman lbw Smith 45, P Free c Laws b Done 16, A Shearer not out 53, S Potger st Gladwin b Done 12, R Goodenough c Gladwin b Done 14, S Robinson lbw Cousins 2, P Bradshaw not out 2; extras 20. Total (8 wkts, 54 overs) 230. Bowling: D Cousins 7-0-39-1, J Barrs 11-3-39-2, T Smith 13-4-32-2, R Done 15-1-66-3, N Batcheler 8-1-36-0.
• Sudbury (170, 30 pts) beat Cambridge Granta (98, 39.4 overs) by 72 runs at Sudbury.
Swardeston (30 pts) beat Great Witchingham (4 pts) by 113 runs.
Swardeston: J Abraham c J M Spelman b Rogers 47, D Martin lbw McCone 12, J Taylor b J M Spelman 1, J Hatwell c-b McCone 49, P Lambert c S Arthurton Snr b Hale 4, I Tufts st Groves b Hale 41, G Walker c Dyer b Hale 16, W Rist st Groves b Hale 32, M Thomas run out 0, M Eccles not out 0, S Thelwell not out 0; extras 10. Total (9 wkts, 66 overs) 220. Bowling: R McCone 16-3-43-2, A Dyer 8-0-30-0, J M Spelman 9-1-38-1, J Hale 15-2-52-4, C Rogers 18-4-46-1.
Great Witchingham: C Rogers c Hatwell b Walker 15, S Arthurton Jnr st Rist b Hatwell 18, T Collishaw lbw Hatwell 35, R McCone c Thomas b Walker 1, J Hale b Walker 0, S Arthurton Snr b Hatwell 15, J Page run out 0, J O Spelman b Hatwell 0, S Groves not out 9, A Dyer c Eccles b Walker 0; extras 1. Total (36.1 overs) 107. Bowling: M Eccles 6-0-23-0, S Thelwell 7-2-18-1, G Walker 12.1-5-30-4, J Hatwell 11-3-36-4.