Sam Robson's maiden T20 fifty sets up consolation Middlesex win over Essex
Mujeeb Ur Rahman undermines chase as Essex fall nine runs short
Middlesex 169 for 5 (Robson 60) beat Essex 160 for 9 (Finn 3-25) by nine runs
Sam Robson put on a rare showcase of his T20 skills as Middlesex beat Essex Eagles by nine runs in the Vitality Blast at the Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford.
Test-capped Robson, known for his red-ball talents, was only playing his seventh T20 match but showed off his repertoire with 60, as Middlesex struck 169 for five in blistering heat.
Afghanistan international Mujeeb Ur Rahman's cheap two-for put the stoppers on a promising start to the chase before Steven Finn (3 for 25) and Blake Cullen's (2 for 26) late wickets made sure of the victory. It meant Middlesex avoided the South Group wooden spoon by claiming their fourth victory of the Blast, while condemning Essex to an eighth defeat - although this fixture was already a dead rubber with both out.
Robson had previously only played four games in 2011 and twice this season, scoring just 69 runs, but his inexperience in the format didn't show. His opening partner Max Holden nicked off first ball but Robson and Joe Cracknell kickstarted the innings with a stand of 59 for the second wicket.
Cracknell pulled to deep midwicket as Robson glided past his highest score of 28 and to his maiden format half-century. He reached fifty in 40 deliveries, with a six straight back over Simon Harmer's head before following it up two balls later by dispatching over wide long-on.
Robson fell for 60 when she holed out to long-on, to give Aron Nijjar a wicket to go alongside the miserly four overs going for 20. John Simpson and Daryl Mitchell totted the score along, adding 24 and 43 before being stumped and paddling to short fine leg respectively.
The Eagles were on top of the chase at the halfway mark having reached 88 for 2. Adam Wheater slogged to deep midwicket but Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence confidently and comfortably struck a 50 partnership from 29 balls.
But wickets, and a slowdown in the 11th and 12th overs, tilted the balance towards the visitors - as Westley was bowled by Luke Hollman and the impeccable Mujeeb castled Michael Pepper.
Debutant Josh Rymell showed some decent skills before being bowled by Mujeeb for 21 and then the bottom fell out.
Neesham was caught at deep midwicket, Paul Walter was caught and bowled and Simon Harmer skied to put Finn on a hat-trick - although Nijjar thwarted the attempt with a six. The former England bowler got the last laugh when he was caught at long-on, and the loss of five wickets in 17 balls killed off the hosts.