Ilford’s hopes of challenging for top spot in the Essex Premier Division were dealt a blow on Saturday, as they tumbled down to mid-table after a comfortable 58 run defeat at Chelmsford.

Having lost the toss, they fielded first and Chelmsford skipper Jack Sterland built on a promising start by surpassing the half-century mark.

Sterland went on to reach 86 before he was caught by Ilford’s Kalpesh Chandracant and after Oliver Devenish’s 29, the remaining Chelmsford batsmen were all dismissed for single figures, as they posted 228-8.

But opener Harsh Kumar’s quick exit was to be the start of a disappointing innings for Ilford, with none of their batsmen able to breach the 20 run mark, meaning they could only post a disappointing 95.

Chelmsford’s Ben Waring (3-14) and Robert Hayto (3-17) particularly impressed with the ball to help the home side claim a comfortable victory.

That defeat for Ilford meant they missed out on a perfect opportunity to close the gap on league leaders Wanstead & Snaresbrook, who were beaten for the first time in five games by fourth place Hornchurch largely thanks to the form of bowlers Muhammad Irfan and Marc Whitlock.

Whitlock particularly impressed as he claimed three wickets for just 14 runs, while Irfan took 4-29 to dismiss Wanstead for 131 after an inconsistent innings.

Aron Nijjar started brightly as he notched an opening 30, which was built upon by Bilal Patel who hit 34 from just 39 balls.

But Hassan Chowdhury’s LBW proved to be the start of an unusual Wanstead batting collapse, with just one of their last seven remaining batsmen able to reach double figures.

Even captain Joe Ellis-Grewal couldn’t inspire a comeback, as he was caught by Michael Bones for just one.

However, Hornchurch opener Jamie Sorrell’s dismissal for six threatened to set-up a tense finale, but up stepped Ronnie Saunders to quash any fears, as he came within just five runs of notching a half century before he was bowled by Mohammed Fayyaz Khan.

Michael Bones then posted 17 before Bhajandip Singh Purewal hit a quick-fire 36 late on to seal Hornchurch the win with four wickets to spare.

Ilford’s defeat means that Wanstead retain their 14 point lead at the top of the table, with Brentwood now in second, although third place Chingford kept the pressure on the league leaders after they comfortably beat Billericay by 58 runs thanks to an inspired performance from Peter McDermott.

Daniel Lawrence (33) and Alexander Maskell were the pick of the bunch for Chingford, who posted a score of 149.

They then got off to the best possible start when it was their turn to field as Ed Smith dismissed both Saurav Prabhakar and Aaron Curtis for ducks early on.

Up stepped an inspired McDermott to take over the reins from Smith, with the Chingford bowler taking a superb 5-19 to play an influential role in dismissing Billericay for 91, sealing a comfortable victory.

In Division One, Buckhurst Hill made it back-to-back wins after they thrashed lowly Hainault & Clayhall by eight wickets.

Etinder Bopara (43) and Hainault captain Irfan Shah lacked support from their teammates as Buckhust Hill’s Irfan Sahar (4-37) and Will Stoner (2-19) took six wickets between them to restrict the visitors to 154.

Once Hendro Puchert racked up an opening 43, Buckhurst Hill never looked in any danger, with Ryan Karunakaran adding 44 and captain Prashant Chand-Bajpai hitting a half century (55) as the home side breezed past their opponents with eight wickets to spare.

However, Woodford Wells remain in the bottom two after they slipped to their fourth defeat in a row at the hands of rock bottom Upminster, who thrashed their opponents by a massive 213 runs.

It looked set to be a promising innings for Upminster when Farid Butt and Kiran Kullar struck up an opening 101 partnership, with both managing to score 74 and 70 respectively.

Louis Pickering then entered the crease and built on the opening duo’s strong showing, as he posted 66 from just 67 balls, while Alan Ison also enjoyed good fortunes as he reached 42 from 21 balls.

Late dismissals for Nabeel Aziz, Nicky Ison and Oliver Peck meant Upminster posted 365-9 inside their allotted 50 overs, leaving Woodford with a mountain to climb if they wanted to get a result.

Woodford did have some hope when Nabel Shaikh scored an opening 24 but he lacked any support leaving the away side staring down the barrel of another defeat.

Captain Jonathan Gaffney inspired a temporary Woodford fight back after he posted a half-century (57) but in the end, his efforts weren’t enough as they were bowled out for 152, condemning them to a heavy defeat.

Loughton maintained their lead at the top of Division Two after they claimed a narrow win over mid-table Wickford at home.

Umar Choudhry was the pick of the Loughton batsmen with a score of 46, while he was supported by Andrew Bridges (36) and Bilaal Anwar (23) as they posted a total of 199 inside 50 overs.

But Wickford’s Chris Westwood set-up a nervous innings when he racked up a half century which was supported by Connor Etchells (47) late on to set up a nervy finale.

But Bridges would take the crucial wicket for Loughton as he bowled Ewan Thomas for a duck to dismiss Wickford for 179, ensuring they claiming a 20 run victory.

Meanwhile Fives & Heronians bounced back from last week’s defeat to Oakfield Parkonians as they returned to winning ways over lowly Old Southendian & Southchurch.

Fives got off to a strong start thanks to Shawn Tuitt (33) and captain Jake Poulter’s (35) efforts, which were built upon by Lakshan Rodrigo.

Rodrigo was the star of the show after hitting an unbeaten 88, while Usman Jan rivalled his team mate when he posted a score of 69, helping Fives reach the 300 mark.

They didn’t have things all their own way, however, after Chris Bunce (23), Daniel Baines (43) and Ahmed Khawaja (26) got the visitors’ innings off to the perfect start.

But having notched 66 with the bat, Jan would also play an influential role when it was his turn to bowl, as he took 4-22, while Amila Peiris’ two late wickets meant Old Southendian & Southchurch were all out for 215.

It proved to be an agonising defeat for South Woodford as they came within eight runs of beating Horndon on the Hill.

Horndon gave South Woodford a tough task when they breached the 300 mark after reaching 303, with Daniel Stone particularly impressing after hitting 76.

Opener Tom Stone (56) notched a half-century while captain Jeff West also performed well after he posted 48.

With a seemingly tough task ahead of them, what South Woodford didn’t need was an early dismissal and it looked like it was going to be one of those days after opener Henry Blackwell went for 2.

But captain Bradley Copper led the way as he scored an unbeaten 108 from just 112 balls, which was built upon by Saihaj Jaspal’s half century as well as Michael Browne’s score of 42.

However, South Woodford’s hearts would be broken as they were condemned to a narrow defeat after falling eight runs short after their allotted 50 overs came to an end, leaving them in mid-table in division two.

In Division Three, West Essex were thrashed by Stanford Le Hope by eight wickets after a strong innings from their opponents’ bowlers.

It was to be the same story for Epping at the hands of Woodford Green, who easily beat the visitors’ target with eight wickets to spare, while Walthamstow were also on the wrong end of a heavy six wicket defeat against Benfleet.