Matt Journeaux believes his young Sarisbury Athletic side are starting to cultivate the art of winning close games following their two-wicket success at Andover in Southern League division one.
The captain was relieved to see his team scramble across the winning line with five balls to spare in a keenly-contested game.
A hat-trick for 18-year-old bowler Josh Hill and a superb innings from opening batsman Ryan Covey (92 not out) proved the difference between the two sides.
‘It is very pleasing to come out on top in a close game because that was our weakness last season,’ said Journeaux.
‘There were about half-a-dozen games last season when we lost after it went down to the wire.
‘It was one of the main reasons we ended up being relegated.
‘We didn’t make it easy for ourselves because we dropped too many catches, and when we batted had a bit of a wobble in the middle order.
‘It looked easy when we needed 25 runs with six overs left and six wickets still standing.
‘Then I ran myself out and it got a bit squeaky-bum time. In the end we managed to scrape home.’
After winning the toss Journeaux put the home side into bat and enjoyed early success with the ball.
Andover looked in real trouble when they were reduced to 87 for five off 30 overs, but Sarisbury’s progress was hindered by some poor fielding.
Home danger man Glyn Treagus (104) was dropped twice – once before he scored and again when he only had 10 runs to his name.
The visitors also put down Matt Knight (50) early in his innings, which allowed the home side to recover and reach 208 for eight.
It would have been even worse for Journeaux’s team if it hadn’t been for Hill’s heroics.
The teenager, who had bowled a tight spell earlier on, returned to claim a hat-trick with the final three balls of the Andover innings.
Journeaux also had praise for the efforts of off-spin bowler Tom Kitcher (three for 35), who made an excellent debut for the senior side.
‘I don’t think Tom bowled a bad ball and we have needed a spinner to come through to boost our all-seam attack,’ said the captain.
‘It is a pity our fielding let us down, allowing Andover to get 40 more runs than they should have done.
‘We always felt with the strength of our batting we could chase it down.’
The key to success proved to be a disciplined innings from Covey, who batted throughout the Sarisbury innings.
‘It was an excellent display from Ryan who anchored our innings from start to finish,’ added Journeaux.
‘Harry Hovey also gave the innings a bit of impetus with his 29 runs off thirty-odd balls.’
A 70-run fifth-wicket partnership between Covey and Journeaux put the visitors into a comfortable position until a late wobble led to a nervous finale.