BRAINTREE Cricket Club skipper Louis Cant feels the return of Barry Stephens to his team will be a boost after a disappointing end was brought to their winning run in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship division two.

Stephens, who is fit again after being out since the end of April with a calf injury, is "raring to go" as the Dolphins look to get back to winning ways when they entertain Mildenhall seconds at Panfield Lane on Saturday.

It will be an unfamiliar experience, though, as Braintree will have to respond to a defeat - something they haven't had to do in the last five games - after a four-wicket defeat at Little Bardfield last weekend.

Cant felt fortune was against his side in that encounter, but is looking forward to having an influential figure in the team back available as they host Mildenhall.

The Braintree captain said: "It will probably be one of the strongest sides we’ve had this year, especially batting wise.

"Barry Stephens is fit and raring to go, which I’m sure will be a big lift for the team and adds another dimension to our bowling attack."

Despite the defeat at Little Bardfield, though, Braintree held on to top spot in division two after a number of other games, including the one involving second-placed Frinton, were called off due to wet weather.

But while Cant was pleased to still be at the summit, he hoped his team's loss would be a wake up call.

He added: "We will take the positives and take the view that we have been lucky in getting away with a loss.

"Hopefully this will give us a kick up the backside and nullify any complacency going forward.

"What this has taught us is that we need to learn to adapt to the situation better.

"We’ve had a good run of games going our way and our plans coming off, but when they don’t we need to be ready to change our game and do what is required.

"We will stick with what has been working and start positively.

"We need to learn how to it get bogged down in the middle overs when the opposition is bowling well, by rotating the strike and put the pressure back in the bowler."

Due to the weather, the game at Little Bardfield was reduced to 30 overs per side and Braintree made 163 for eight from theirs, with Chris Leech the only player to make it past 50, but that proved to be not enough as the hosts got over the line with four wickets and four balls to spare.

It was a setback for the visitors, but Cant rued his team's luck, including one umpiring decision that proved crucial to the end result.

He said: "It was just one of those days in sport, where everything seems to go against you.

"We didn’t adapt to the situation very well, with the game being reduced and being put in to bat on a wet day.

"We had another injury, with Dave Denny pulling a hamstring on his return to the team, and our middle order struggled to push in from a good start.

"Our bowlers just couldn’t hit the right areas and in all fairness, Little Bardfield’s batsmen took full advantage.

"But the pivotal moment in the game was when one of the umpires gave their number three batsman out LBW and then decided to overturn his decision, after the batsman had stood at the crease remonstrating that he had hit the ball.

"He then went in to score 70 and win the game for them.

"We have to take the positives where we can, though, and due to all of the other teams around us having their games called off, we have actually gained a point in our position at the start of the day."