Haywards Heath registered a comfortable home win against bottom of the league Ifield but, with every point crucial in the race for promotion, were left a little frustrated that they didn’t bowl the visitors out after winning the toss.
Ben Van Rensburg took a couple of early wickets before an 80-run partnership between Prasansana Jayamanne and Luke Morris (30) pulled Ifield back in to the contest. The introduction of Heath captain Callum Smith shifted the game back in the home side's favour as he accounted for the visitor’s middle order on his way to figures of 4-35 from nine overs.
The only other batsman to support Jayamanne was Daniel Groves who played a good, aggressive innings of 33 that helped lift Ifield closer to a competitive total before the reintroduction of Van Rensburg ended his cameo.
Jayamanne had played steadily throughout but was unable to increase his own rate of scoring and was dismissed by Smith for a very well made 90; Jonny Phelps taking an excellent swirling catch in the deep. Van Rensburg then finished the 45 overs by picking up three more wickets to register his second five-wicket haul of the season and restrict Ifield to 195-9.
Heath openers Ben Matthew and Jethro Menzies looked untroubled throughout a fast-scoring 132 run opening partnership that put to bed any concerns of a potential slip up. Both batsmen hit ten fours, and Menzies added three sixes against the spinners, but with a century firmly in his sights a further attempt found only a thick outside edge and he had to drag himself off the field after making 79 from 67 balls.
Shortly after reaching a half century of his own, Matthew was bowled for 52, leaving Heath needing just another 53 runs for the win. Jonny Phelps and Callum Smith knocked off the remaining runs with ease, Phelps hitting 41* and Smith 15* in a very comfortable home win inside 29 overs.
With promotion rivals Hastings and Bognor both winning little has changed at the very top of the division, but the cancellation of St James’s game and a loss for Billingshurst means that, for the first time in a while, it looks to be a three-horse race for the two promotion spots.