Colchester and East Essex Cricket Club are hoping to seal a return to the Shepherd Neame Essex League top flight at the first time of asking tomorrow.

Ben Stephens’ side head into their home clash with Woodford Wells at Castle Park knowing they are on the verge of promotion from division one.

Colchester are five points clear of second-placed Buckhurst Hill at the top of the table, going into their penultimate match of the season.

And with two teams being promoted from division one, they lie 38 points ahead of third-placed Hadleigh and Thundersley, with two games to go.

Colchester skipper Ben Stephens said: “We’re not counting our chickens just yet and there are still two matches to play.

“It’s a big game for us this weekend but it would be massive if we were to be promoted.

“Last year, it was a big disappointment to be relegated from the premier division and I think that grounded us, this year.

“We knew that we couldn’t just turn up at games and expect to win them.

“Promotion back to the premier division is what we’ve strived for and we want to pit our wits against some of the best teams in the county.”

Colchester have already beaten Woodford Wells twice this season, in league and cup competitions - but Stephens is taking nothing for granted.

“Woodford Wells are fighting for their lives still, so they need to win or at least take as many points from the game as possible.

“We’ve beaten them twice this season but they’re a good side and have got some good players who have played in the premier division.”

Stephens is unavailable for tomorrow’s clash, so Julian Russell will lead the side against Woodford Wells.

For a full preview of Colchester's game against Woodford Wells and all of the weekend's local cricket action, see Friday's Daily Gazette.