Two wins needed to avoid relegation with two games remaining

TEAM EFFORT: The whole club are supporting the first team as they bid to stay in Division One with two games remaining
TEAM EFFORT: The whole club are supporting the first team as they bid to stay in Division One with two games remaining

Adam Dellar has said the final two games are about ‘finishing the season on a high’ as the relegation battle looks likely to stretch to the final match.

Haverhill (185-8) lost to Halstead (188-1) by nine wickets on Saturday at the Star Stile, to lose ground on their nearest rivals in the Division One Championship.

It means Haverhill remain in 11th of 12 places, with two games remaining, with two teams facing demotion. But, if Bury St Edmunds are relegated from the East Anglian Premier League, then three will face the drop to Division Two.

So far, Bury are holding on to their EAPL status by three points over bottom-placed Horsford.

And Haverhill captain Dellar believes that two wins will be enough to avoid the danger zone, with their remaining games against Maldon and tenth-placed Worlington.

But that first win did not materialise against Halstead, a game where things went from bad to worse for the visiting side.

It began with a bad omen as Haverhill lost the toss and were asked to bat, with the top order struggling to find their rhythm.

Dellar (7), Anthony Phillips (4) and Steve Fox (7) all went cheaply, followed by Chris Palmer (20) to leave the side reeling.

The middle order looked to repair the damage, with Josh Ruthven stepping up and reaching his half-century to give his side hope.

But despite further decent contributions from Dave Humphrey (31) and Will Bailey (31), the Haverhill side could not recover from their early losses.

The away side’s innings ended on 185-8, a score Dellar knew would be tough to defend.

Halstead began their reply intent on finishing the game as quickly as possible.

Despite the loss of Neale Dakin for seven, it did not lead to the fall of any further wickets as Halstead built momentum. A few half chances went begging for the away side but Halstead comfortably reached the target in the 33rd over, with opener Chris Huntington remaining unbeaten on 123.

Dellar said: “We didn’t score enough runs and were then unable to put the Halstead batsmen under any pressure.

“It was a disappointing performance and one we need to put behind us very quickly.

“If we can win our remaining two games we still have a very good chance of finishing the season on a high.”

Haverhill take on Maldon at home on Saturday (12pm).

Meanwhile in Division Three, Haverhill II (132-6) hosted Halstead II (131-9), recording a better result than their first team colleagues as they took victory by four wickets.

Skipper Liam Botten won the toss and elected to field.

Two strong opening bowling spells from Botten and Andrew Argent kept the Halstead batsmen on a tight rein as they took the first two wickets.

A change of bowling led to a flurry of wickets and Martyn Wilkins (15-4-27-4) took four valuable wickets while conceding less than two runs per over.

Halstead ended their innings on 131-9.

Haverhill started their reply in determined fashion with Liam Botten (23) and Lee Phillips (27) giving the home side a good platform to build on.

However, a mid-order collapse left Haverhill looking vulnerable at 88-5.

It was left to Sam Hartshorn to score an unbeaten 42 to steer the team home to what was in the end a comfortable victory by four wickets.

The win keeps them in 10th place, but 83 points above the relegation zone with two games remaining.

On Saturday, they travel to Long Melford (12.30pm).

n In Division Nine West, Haverhill III (134-1) beat Nowton II (130-8) by nine wickets.

Haverhill’s bowlers produced a great display at the crease to limit the visitors to 130 runs in their 40 overs.

In reply, the loss of Kevin Austin for three set off alarm bells but a 120-run partnership between Mick Franks (48 not out) and George Biggs, who hit 77 not out in just 35 balls, easily saw them over the line in the 13th over.

They next face Woolpit IV on Saturday (12.30pm).