BRAINTREE Cricket Club suffered a third successive defeat in Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship division one after losing by five-wickets to Halstead.

With the season already at the halfway stage, the Dolphins find themselves just clear of the relegation places in the table.

Halstead skipper Ed Clarke won the toss and invited Braintree to bat first on a strip that had been used before.

His decision proved correct as his seam bowlers got the ball to move all over the show, reducing the Dolphins to 13 for four inside the opening eight overs.

Clarke claimed the wickets of Chris Leech (1) caught behind by Josh Wells, Matt Renvoize (0) clean bowled and Will Jackson (0) caught by Liam Jones.

Meanwhile Joe Morris dismantled Barry Stephens' (5) stumps.

Initially Dan Chalk struggled to get bat on ball, however with the help of Rory Ainsley started a mini recovery.

That was until Ainsley having scored 21 had the misfortune to dismantle a bail with his bat as he attempted to stop the ball spinning back onto his stumps.

When Chris Hinks (1) was bowled by Brennan, Braintree found themselves having scored 53 runs for the loss of six wickets.

Chalk, who by now had played himself in by ensuring that any loose deliveries were punished, was joined at the crease by Dan Garner and the pair put on 83 runs for the seventh wicket.

Unfortunately having just hit Josh King for a huge six, Garner (33) was bowled the very next delivery.

Chalk brought up his half century with a delightful cover drive and then despatched the following ball out of the ground, however when on 64 he too was bowled by King.

Geoff Eveling (8), Andy Sherry (7) and Robbie Spalding (12) showed some late resistance, but when Spalding became Clarke’s fifth victim Braintree were all out for 172.

In reply Halstead lost two quick wickets as Adam Morris was trapped LBW by Chris Hinks then Robbie Spalding found the edge of Charlie Douglas-Hughes bat and Dan Garner took the catch behind the stumps, both trudged back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers.

Craig Spooner opened the batting for the visitors as a pinch hitter and soon took a liking to the Braintree bowling attack striking the ball to and over the boundary ropes on 11 occasions.

However, having scored 66 runs out of a total of 80, he found the safe hands of Matt Renvoize on the boundary ropes off the bowling of Barry Stephens.

With an average of a fraction under 125 so far this season Josh Wells strode out to the wicket, he was soon heading back to changing rooms though as Stephens had him adjudged LBW for a golden duck.

When Andy Sherry took a smart catch off the bowling of Geoff Eveling to dismiss Liam Jones, Halstead still required 60 runs for victory having lost five wickets.

Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Josh King (45) and Joe Morris (35) struck the runs required for victory off only nine overs.

Braintree visit Maldon, who they beat in the opening game, on Saturday.

Braintree's second XI, who lie sixth position in division six, host Kelvedon this weekend.