Halstead Cricket Club Saturday 1st XI 174 for 5 beat Braintree CC 1st XI 172 for 10

A CAREER-BEST five-wicket haul for skipper Ed Clark and a scintillating performance with the bat from Craig Spooner helped Halstead reach the halfway point of the season in style with victory over Braintree.

Halstead won the toss and bowled first, making serious inroads early on as both Braintree openers fell with less than ten on the board.

Chris Leech (1) edged Ed Clark (5-32) to keeper Josh Wells before Matt Renvoize (0) picked out Adam Morris at mid-off.

Joe Morris (1-27) then got in on the act, bowling Barry Stephens (5) and Clark had his third wicket when William Jackson (0) found Liam Jones at gully, leaving Braintree 13-4.

Daniel Chalk (64) and Rory Ainsley (21) rebuilt, the latter the more aggressive of the two in a 32-run partnership for the fifth wicket, which was ended in unfortunate fashion as Ainsley tried to stop a ball rolling back onto his stumps only to knock them over himself.

It was soon 53-6 as Lewis Brennan (1-14) bowled Christopher Hinks (1) but Chalk and Daniel Garner (33) finally stopped the rot, crafting an 83-run stand for the seventh wicket, though Chalk did survive a straightforward catch on the boundary off Liam Jones.

Chalk brought up a well-made half-century as Halstead lacked the killer instinct for a time, but the visitors stayed patient and were finally rewarded when Garner was bowled by Josh King (2-32).

King also bowled Chalk, who departed after a 98-ball 64 including six fours and two sixes, with Geoff Eveling (8) soon following him, caught by King at short cover off Liam Jones (1-42).

There was a temporary rearguard action between Andrew Sherry (7*) and Robbie Spalding (12), but Clark brought himself back into the attack and completed his five-wicket haul, bowling Spalding and ending the Braintree innings on 172.

The top of the Halstead scorecard in reply made for interesting reading, with at one point the score being 45-2 - Adam Morris (0) lbw to Hinks (1-55) and Charlie Douglas-Hughes (0) caught behind by Garner off Spalding (1-34) - of which two had been wides and the other 43 scored by Craig Spooner (66).

Spooner's innings was peppered with boundaries, hitting five fours and six sixes in a clean display of hitting that left Braintree reeling, when he finally departed for a 29-ball 66 the score was 80-3 in just the 11th over.

The tables could easily have turned when Josh Wells (0) departed the next ball to give Barry Stephens (2-33) a hat-trick opportunity, but Liam Jones (23) negotiated this and, alongside Josh King (45*) batted maturely in pursuit of their target.

It took a one-handed grab at slip from Sherry off Eveling (1-41) to dismiss Jones, but with 60 required for victory in 26 overs, Halstead always looked the favourites.

King continued to play the anchor role as Joe Morris (35*) picked up where Spooner left off, hitting five fours and a six in his 21-ball stay at the crease, winning it with a maximum off the bowling of Chris Leech.