PROMOTION-CHASING Colchester and East Essex first-team captain Darren Eckford was pleased with his side’s all-round performance after they beat second-placed Fives and Heronians to strengthen their lead at the top of the table.

The Castle Park side are now 34 points clear at the top of Shepherd Neame Essex League division one with three games remaining, following a five-wicket home triumph in the top-of-the-table clash.

Eckford said: “It was a good win.

“We’re all aware that you enjoy your cricket more when you’re winning – once you’ve got that win, you can enjoy it a bit more.

“We don’t take confidence from winning a few games – we take confidence from the preparation we make for the next game and getting to a point where we can nail it.

“We intentionally try not to look at the table and it’s about what we can control both individually and as a team.”

After Fives won the toss and elected to bat, they were restricted to 141 in 45.3 overs, with Denson Narayan (4-29 off 14.3 overs) the pick of the Colchester bowlers.

Charlie Watts (3-16 off five), Jonny Bassett-Graham (0-18 off ten), Ben Stephens (2-40 off eight) and Eckford (1-36 off eight) also contributed.

“With all of the rain that had been around earlier in the week, we were happy to be bowling first,” said Eckford.

“We didn’t make as many inroads at the top as we’d have liked but Charlie came on and took three wickets in quick succession and helped put us in the box seat.

“Jonny (Bassett-Graham) and Denson (Narayan) then bowled really in tandem.

“Denson was as reliable as ever – he’s a real X Factor player.

“There’s not a game that goes by that he doesn’t produce something either with the bat or the ball.”

In reply, Colchester lost opener Feroze Ahmed (four) early on but a second-wicket partnership worth 92 between Joe MacGregor (63) and Ben Robinson (33) provided the platform for the hosts’ win.

Eckford added: “Joe rightly gets a lot of plaudits but since Robbo came back from school, he’s been pretty immense for us.

“He provides a level of assurance, coming in at number three.

“They got us to within striking distance, on a wicket that was going to do a bit.

“We lost a couple of late wickets which we weren’t happy about but we were glad to get the win.”

Colchester II (127) lost by seven wickets to Hutton II (128-3), in Second XI division one.