Pete Hopson feels Havant dodged a bullet as they roared back to snatch a winning draw against Bashley (Rydal) when they appeared to be heading for defeat.
With both sides eager to stay hot on the heels of Southern Electric Premier League premier division leaders South Wilts, the New Forest club should have wrapped up victory after bowling out Havant for 220.
But after the visitors eased to 135 for one, skipper Stuart Ransley (five for 54) and Steve Matthews (four for 33) then dragged their team out of the mire with impressive displays as Bashley then lost eight wickets for just 57 runs.
That left them on 192 for nine – with Havant attempting to take the final wicket with the last ball of the match, which would have claimed an extraordinary win.
But Havant player-coach Hopson, who top-scored with 53 for his side, was satisfied with the result.
Hopson said: ‘They were 135 for one and were cruising.
‘We turned that game on its head really.
‘We really came back into it.
‘They are probably the third best team in the league and if a team is 135 for one chasing 221, there should only be one winner.
‘We took 15 points out of the game when it looked like we would get five or six and they would get 25 after 30 overs.
‘So we are quite pleased with that.
‘South Wilts only got one more point than us so we’re still in touch.
‘We got out of town.’
Havant lost Ben Walker to a first-ball duck in their innings and the all-rounder later capped a bad day as he limped off with a hamstring injury, midway through his 11th over, to restrict their bowling options.
But after Hopson and Rob Gibson (48) built a 97-run stand, the innings faltered with Harry Hovey (36) and Richard Hindley (28) unable to build on decent starts.
After their fine start, Bashley’s Nick Baker (63), James Morris (45) and Jaron Morgan (nought) fell with just one run added – Morgan dismissed by a fabulous effort from left-armer Matthews, who dived to his right and took a brilliant one-handed return catch from his own bowling.
Hopson said: ‘Stevie took one of the best return catches I have ever seen to get rid of their overseas player.
‘I’ve worked with him in the past on his fielding off his own bowling and it was absolutely brilliant to see.
‘His reaction was great – he was really pumped and it was even better because it was his wrong hand. It was a game-changing moment.
‘You could see the Bashley players who were watching from the pavilion suddenly going inside to the changing room because they saw what was happening. Stevie and Stuart both bowled magnificently.’
Although the wickets continued to fall, Havant never really had the opportunity to snatch the win, even though they finished the stronger of the two teams.
Hopson said: ‘It’s happened before against Bashley where they look like they are well on top and then they haven’t quite been able to finish us off.
‘We showed a lot of character. And although we came back into it, we never had a realistic chance to win it.
‘We only had one ball at their number 11 so we have to be pleased with the result. It keeps us in the hunt.’