CAPTAIN Louis Cant says it will be vital that Braintree Cricket Club's senior players continue to rise to the challenge as they look to complete their quest for the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship division two title.

There are just three games to go and Braintree stayed top - ahead of a trip to Mildenhall twos on Saturday - with an emphatic 101-run victory against Little Bardfield last weekend as key members of their squad had memorable days with both bat and ball.

Will Jackson and Chris Leech both struck impressive centuries, while Dean Bass gave excellent support in hitting 45 as the Dolphins made 328 for two from 45 overs and Josh Newman then completed a five-wicket haul as Bardfield were all out for 227.

It was a welcome return to form for Braintree, who had seen their title push stutter in recent weeks with three back-to-back defeats that had allowed the chasing pack to close their lead at the top.

Ahead of the game against Little Bardfield, Cant had said he wanted his team to have fun and play with freedom as they had through the majority of the season and he was delighted to see key players like Jackson and Leech doing just that in bludgeoning the visiting bowling attack to all parts of the Panfield Lane ground.

Cant said: "The patience that both of them showed in waiting for the bad balls and then executing their skills to punish them was brilliant to watch.

"Will used his strength to really overpower the bowlers and it was very impressive to watch Chris’ accuracy in manipulating the ball into the gaps.

"It was definitely a good toss to win.

"The conditions were perfect for batting and once we had got going, you could see the opposition’s moral getting more and more depleted with every over.

"Our opening bowlers did extremely well in that heat and really put the game to bed early in their innings, with accurate bowling which really restricted the scoring opportunities for the batsmen.

"To have key senior players performing with both bat and ball is vital for these next few games and everyone will be lifted by the performance of Will, Chris, Dean Bass and Josh Newman.

"I’m hoping this (victory) will give us back the confidence we’ve had all year and give us a push to accelerate to the end of the season."

There are likely to be changes for the trip to Mildenhall, though, as regular opening duo Jackson and Warren Celiz are unavailable, but Cant is confident with the quality of players coming in as they look to avenge a defeat there last year when five dropped catches proved costly.

He added: "We don’t have our usual opening partnership available, but with Dan Chalk and Dave Denny coming back into the side and Chris Leech performing the way he did last week, there’s no reason that should hinder us at all.

"Mildenhall is always a good place to bat, so I have every confidence that we can show them why we are top of the league.

"We still have a sour taste in our mouth from the game there last year and I’m sure that will give us an extra boost to really give them everything we’ve got."