Hampshire’s bid to claim the Daily Telegraph South East League Salver ended in a narrow 6.5-5.5 defeat to Essex at The Warren – after their team preparations were hit at the last minute.
Captain Steve Williams’ team sheet for the weekend had to be ripped up after two late withdrawals.
The Army’s Haydn Reay suffered the recurrence of an ankle problem, while an injury in a fall left Royal Jersey’s Gavin O’Neill needing hospital treatment and meant the Channel Islands champion was also ruled out.
North Hants’ Billy Watson was promoted from reserve into the eight-man team, while 61-year-old former captain, Alan Mew, stepped in at the last minute.
Hampshire might have known fate was against them when Hayling’s Ben Wall crashed his car on his arrival at the club, as he skidded into a stone bollard in pouring rain.
But despite the disruption of forming two new foursomes partnerships in practice on the Saturday afternoon, the match went down to the wire.
Although Rowlands Castle’s Tom Robson and Martin Young, from Brokenhurst Manor, rattled off the first point with a 4&3 win, the remaining three foursomes were all decided on the 17th – with the home side earning a 3-1 advantage.
Corhampton’s Scott Gregory and Hayling’s Darren Walkley had been four down but fought back to lose by two holes.
Watson was sent out with Wall but they lost by the same margin, while Mew and Burgess lost the 17th to go three down.
Williams sent out the big guns at the top of the order in the singles, with Robson, Gregory, Martin Young and Alan Mew earning wins.
But defeats for Walkley, Wall and Watson meant Blackmoor’s Mark Burgess needed to win the final match.
Sadly, he stood on the 18th tee one down and even an eagle to grab a half in his match wasn’t enough as Essex took the victory.
Hampshire’s colts bid to exact revenge over Essex in the South East League final at Hendon on Sunday.