LUKE Maslen scored a century on debut as Oxfordshire beat Herefordshire by nine wickets in the NCCA Championship.

The youngster’s unbeaten 108 helped the hosts to a healthy first innings lead of 163 in the three-day match at Thame Town CC.

Herefordshire were dismissed for 143 and 210 as Max Mannering took nine wickets, leaving Oxon to knock off their target of 48 with ease.

It saw the defending champions cement their position at the top of Western Division 1, with nearest rivals Berkshire their next opponents in a fortnight’s time.

Herefordshire won the toss and chose to bat in scorching conditions. Ollie Currill removed openers Ben Chapman-Lilley and captain Matt Pardoe for five and ten respectively to leave the visitors 19/2, but they reached three figures after lunch for the loss of only five wickets.

The visitors soon collapsed in the afternoon heat, though, after Mannering bowled Connor Smith for 37 with Herefordshire 121/5.

Their last five wickets fell for just 22 runs as George Tait claimed three dismissals to end the innings with figures of 3/17, while Mannering managed 4/56 and Currill finished on a tidy 3/19 from his 14 overs.

Oxon began their first innings after tea and Ollie Ebsworth-Burland produced a useful 46 in reply.

The opener was dismissed before the close, though, with Mannering and Tait also falling as the hosts went from 91/2 to 110/5 going into day two.

The Monday morning session proved crucial as Oxon turned a 33-run deficit into a lead of 91.

Tom Haynes was removed early on, but Maslen and Currill (53) put together a 143-run partnership that took the game away from Herefordshire.

Maslen reached his century just in time as Oxon closed their allotted 90 overs on 306/7, giving them a commanding lead.

Chapman-Lilley (11) and Pardoe (13) again went for low scores, but Nick Hammond (53) and 17-year-old Ollie Walker (60) put on 98 for the third wicket to leave the visitors 135/3.

They were removed by Robbie Shurmer and Tait respectively before the close, with the latter seeing off Smith as Herefordshire ended the day 157/5 – still six runs behind.

The visitors added only 53 the next day, as Mannering ended with figures of 5/61.

Ebsworth-Burland (4) fell early in the chase, but captain Harry Smith (33*) and Freddie Smith (7*) guided the hosts to a comfortable victory.