Saffron Walden were held to a draw against Bury St Edmunds despite an unbeaten 77 from Matt Gouldstone – his third not out innings in four league games.

The right-hander, who is currently averaging 74.25 runs per inning, batted with control and poise, spending over two-and-a-half hours in the middle, as he anchored Walden to 193-7 from their 60 overs.

Bury, yet to win this season, got good performances from the middle order, with Michael Comber top-scoring with 49, but the run-rate dropped below what was required after a blistering start and they ran out of overs.

Bury opted to bowl first at the Victory Ground and made early inroads into Walden’s line-up, taking Tom Bonham (1) in the fourth over and Andrew Wright (11) with just 19 runs on the board.

The run-rate was crawling along at less than two an over and wickets were still falling as Tom Philp (11) and Simon Parmenter (5) offered up catches that send them back to the pavilion.

The game slowly started to swing in Walden’s favour as Gouldstone got settled, although it wasn’t immediately apparent as his first two partnerships, with Parmenter and Jack Sneath (9), accounted for just 26 runs.

The introduction of Andrew Gale provided the spark Walden desperately needed.

The number seven provided a foil for Gouldstone, hitting three fours on his way to 23, in a partnership of 41 that was ended when Gale was caught by Tyler Lortan.

Captain Joe Barrs took over from where Gale left off and blasted a 50-ball 40 in an 86-run pairing with Gouldstone that propelled Walden from 94-6 to 180-7.

Gouldstone added another 12 runs as the innings closed on 193-7.

Bury attacked the bowling from the off and were up around four runs an over as they chased down a modest target.

Ben Curran (38) hogged the limelight at the top of the order in partnerships with Sean Cooper (4), Phil Gooden (4) and Coomber (8) before he was caught by Bonham off Barrs.

With the middle order exposed, Walden were in the ascendency but excellent innings from Comber, Justin Bishop (23) and James Sturgeon (23) saw Bury put on two partnerships of 46 runs and move within 34 runs of victory.

They had taken their time though, and had just seven overs to get the required runs when Sturgeon was trapped LBW by Barrs. Any chance of victory quickly dissipated as four wickets in six overs left the task of wining the game to the Bury’s tailenders.

Getting the runs was a job too much, although Mark Nunn (3) and Tom Robotham (5) saw out the last two overs to earn Bury a draw.