Portsmouth were left battered and bruised because of a broken roller as they went down to a three-wicket defeat in a low-scoring clash at Calmore Sports in Southern Electric division two.
The city club turned up at Loperwood Park to be informed that the pitch roller was out of action as thoughts of posting a score of 300 were quickly thrown out of the window.
Skipper Dave Henderson then lost the toss – remarkably, his ninth in succession – as Portsmouth were predictably invited to bat first.
James Mitchell (13) and Jed Whitecross (13) were then joint top-scorers as Portsmouth were bowled out for 84 with the pitch offering more than a hint of assistance for the bowlers.
Henderson said: ‘Let’s just say it was a bit of a minefield.
‘It was lifting off a length – they were coming at you throat or chest high.
‘I’m wearing a few bruises myself.
‘If we were facing really fast bowlers in the premier division, it could have been dicey.
‘But the roller had broken at Calmore’s ground, so we arrived and it was not ideal.
‘It was one of those tosses that you had to win and I lost my ninth toss in succession.
‘If you work out the odds, I think it’s 512-1 to do that!
‘Bizarrely, it was probably the most fun we’ve had this season because it was almost farcical.
‘It was a really close game and it was played in a good spirit but it’s one of those things.’
While 84 all out is not the kind of score to put opponents under too much pressure, Portsmouth were by no means out of it as they then reduced the home side to 49 for five.
But after Australian overseas bowler Pat Burns (two for 13) and Andrew Marston (three for 21) had made life difficult, Calmore’s lower order chanced their arm to get home with three wickets to spare.
Henderson said: ‘Our scorer, Ian Miller, has been around the league for 20 years.
‘He told us if we bat first and get 130, we would win.
‘He was absolutely spot on.
‘They bowled well on it and they took four outstanding catches.
‘At this level, that makes the difference.
‘When we batted, we tried to organise it so that one batsman would be aggressive and the other one would just try to see it out.
‘It didn’t quite come off.
‘But then they were 49 for five and one of their guys came in and slogged it, got a few fours and in that context, 20 runs makes a huge difference.’
The defeat has probably put paid to Portsmouth’s fading hopes of a second successive promotion and Henderson admits there is a different challenge this season.
He said: ‘Things are not quite going our way this season.
‘Last season, all the luck was on our side but they always say that everything levels out and I can confirm it absolutely does.
‘We’ve had a few problems with our own pitch lately and we definitely needed a nice track to get some runs under our belts.
‘But I think we have written off our promotion chances now.
‘We had a few teenagers playing and this season was all about getting some of the kids blooded and looking for a mid-table finish.’