BRAINTREE Cricket Club's unbeaten run in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship division two came to an abrupt end with a 16-run defeat at Elmstead on Saturday.

With regulars Warren Celiz, Will Jackson, Dan Chalk, Barry Stephens and Ben Golds all unavailable for selection, Josh Paget was given his first-team debut, while Matt Kent, Jerry Hollingsworth, Himesh Patel and Jamie Foyster all stepped up from the twos.

Louis Cant lost the toss and Elmstead elected to bat first.

With only the third ball of the innings, Josh Newman found the edge of Jordan Elliott's bat and Hollingsworth took a diving catch behind the stumps.

James Sheekey could only face four deliveries before Robbie Spalding removed his stumps.

Spalding then had Elliott Mann caught out by Cant and when, two balls later, Newman clean-bowled Pete Webster, Elmstead had been reduced to only 30 runs for the loss of four wickets.

Craig Watts and Dan White put on 25 runs for the fifth wicket.

However, the former mistimed a drive off the bowling of Newman and Patel took the catch at the second attempt.

White was pushing the score along with a string of boundaries but he could only stand and watch as Spalding had Josh Elliott caught behind for ten and Newman demolished Ross Soteriou's stumps.

Having deposited two sixes into the adjoining field off the tiring Newman, White, having scored 64, attempted to do the same to Cant.

However, he was deceived by the spin and duly stumped by Hollingsworth.

When Dean Bass had Josh Grimes and Mark Burles caught by Chris Leech and Cant respectively off successive deliveries, Elmstead found themselves bowled out for just 129 in the 29th over.

With their normal top-three batsmen all missing, the Dolphins opened their innings with Leech and Bass.

However, Bass was soon back in the pavilion without scoring as he got a leading edge from a White delivery and Grimes took the catch.

Having inherited a further 17 overs on top of their allotted 45, Braintree could take their time reaching the modest target.

Unfortunately, Leech was also dismissed as he offered Webster a simple catch after scoring seven and when Cant was adjudged LBW without playing a stroke, Braintree found themselves losing their first three wickets for only 24 runs.

Garner and Newman, as the last of the first-11 regulars, tried to rebuild the innings, taking a fair amount of abuse from the opposition as they pushed the odd single here and there.

The pair put on 56 runs for the fourth wicket before, having ground out 35 valuable runs, Garner mistimed a drive and only succeeded in finding Burls at mid-on.

Braintree required 50 runs for victory, with six wickets in hand, and Newman could only hope that his teammate could stay around long enough for him to score the bulk of the runs required.

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be as Kent (0), Hollingsworth (1), Patel (0), Foyster (2) and Spalding (2) all succumbed to the bowling of the Elliott brothers.

Newman decided it was time for all or nothing and hit two huge sixes, while attempting a third he got a leading edge and Sheekey eventually took the catch, having spilled three simpler efforts earlier in the innings.

Braintree were all out for 113 - only 17 runs short of their target.

Newman took the accolades, having taken four wickets and accumulating 43 well-earned runs.

The Dolphins picked up just six bonus points, despite coming so close to victory.

This Saturday they welcome third-placed East Bergholt to Panfield Lane in what is now a must-win game.