It was a case of mission accomplished for Colchester and East Essex after the club sealed promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

Their six-wicket victory over Woodford Wells at Castle Park secured their return to the premier division, with a game to spare.

Ben Stephens’ side have set the pace in division one all season.

And they have now bounced back from last season’s relegation in style.

Stephens said: “It’s mission accomplished - we’ve been striving for this all year.

“It’s been a great season all round and we’ve had a really good squad.

“I’ve been nervous on Saturday mornings because I’ve wanted us to get the right result.

“I still don’t think we’ve played great cricket in all of the games that we’ve played.

“But we’ve been consistent throughout the season and we’ve also done well in the cups against premier division sides like Chingford and Shenfield.”

With Stephens unavailable for Colchester’s penultimate game of the season, stand-in skipper Julian Russell won the toss and put Woodford Wells into bat.

The visitors were quickly reduced to 29 for two but a third-wicket partnership of 152 between William Rogers (127 not out) and Ed Buxton (62) turned their fortunes around.

Rogers was dropped at least twice on his way to a big total, as Woodford Wells eventually posted a target of 221 for three.

Opener Russell went for a duck in Colchester’s reply but the scoreboard ticked over nicely after that, with Kemsley Robb (40) and Cam Rule (29) both contributing.

It was the 127-run partnership between Cam Hawkins (68 no) and Henry Foster (78 no) that steered Colchester to victory, though.

Colchester were left needing 80 runs off ten overs with six wickets in hand and the pair hit the required runs, to seal an important victory.

They will be hoping to seal the title this weekend when they travel to play Harlow, in their final game of the season.

In the second XI premier division, Colchester’s second XI (143) lost to Ilford (144 for six) by four wickets.

Colchester III are closing in on promotion from third XI division two.

They won by 137 runs after scoring 177 for seven and reducing ten-man Orsett to 40 for nine.

For a full round-up of the local cricket action, see Wednesday's Daily Gazette.