Athletic keep their cool to boost survival bid
Sarisbury Athletic II held their nerve in a nailbiting finish to beat United Services by one wicket at Allotment Road.
Skipper Colin Day believes it is a win that will keep his side in Hampshire League division one.
‘We have given ourselves a real chance of staying up,’ he said.
‘With our first team going for promotion back to the premier division of the Southern League, it is vital we maintain our current level.
‘It is important to the club the gap between first and second-team cricket isn’t too big.
‘Our problem is the same as any second team and that is losing players to the senior side.
‘I don’t think we have been able to field the same team twice all summer.
‘That obviously has a big impact on the consistency of the performances.
‘We have lost some games by a long way.
‘But at the same time we have also gone down in some we should have won.
‘Going into our last game we need six points to make sure of staying up without worrying about what happens elsewhere.
‘We should be okay because Ellingham need a big win over league leaders Alton if they are to overtake us.’
United Services batted first after winning the toss but struggled to cope with the bowling of 18-year-old Josh Hill (five for 22). The youngster has dropped down to the seconds after his chances were limited in the senior side.
‘We are really pleased to have him back because he bowls quick and is useful with the bat,’ said Day
‘I felt we had done okay to limit Services to just over 200 and was confident we could chase it down.’
Day’s confidence was soon dented, however, after a bad start left them 10 for two after only six overs.
Once again it was Hill (45) who came to the hosts’ rescue with a sensible innings at a time when his side were rocking.
Number six Dan Clouting (25) added some vital runs as Sarisbury remained well ahead of the required rate.
The main problem for the home side was the regular loss of wickets.
They still needed 36 when the last pair of Dan Oliver and Tom Kitcher came to the wicket.
‘Things were getting very tense and my fingernails were bitten to the quick,’ said Day.
‘Our pair held their nerve – keeping out the good balls, hitting the bad ones for four and scrambling through for a few singles.
‘Services brought their best bowler back for his final three overs but they saw him off.
‘We knew if we batted out the overs we would win but it was a case of if our last two could survive.
‘In the end we were all very excited by the result.’