Stuart Ransley kept up Havant’s outsides hopes of retaining their Southern Electric Premier League crown with a man-of-the-match performance in their crucial victory over South Wilts.
Most people expect table-toppers South Wilts to get over the line having led the way all season.
But Havant showed they are not quite ready to give up their title as they chalked up a five-wicket win that will put some serious doubt in the minds of the champions-elect.
And according to manager Geoff Owen, it also underlined that South Wilts are not the same side without Aussie all-rounder Glenn Maxwell in their ranks.
Owen said: ‘The players were over the moon with the win.
‘Looking at the league table, you would have to say that it’s probably still not quite feasible to win the title this year.
‘But it proves a point beautifully that without Glenn Maxwell, we thrashed them.
‘We would have beaten them in the reverse fixture at Havant Park if they had not had Maxwell and it just goes to show what a good overseas player can do for you.
‘It’s always a debate about what one overseas player can do for a team but we haven’t gone down that road for three or four years now.
‘We are happy with what we have got.’
Ben Walker picked up two early wickets to put Havant in command in an impressive early spell.
But Eddie Abel (47) helped the home side at least get a foothold in the game until Ransley (three for 52) then did the damage late in the innings as South Wilts were bowled out for 196 in the 49th over.
It was a fine performance in the field, particularly after wicketkeeper Jez Bulled had to be replaced behind the stumps after he suffered a nasty injury when a Steve Matthews delivery caught him flush in the face. Pete Hopson took over the gloves and showed he is no slouch behind the timbers with two stumpings, while Bulled’s injury was thankfully not as serious as first feared.
But the lowly total gave Havant a serious boost as they set about the run chase.
And despite the loss of openers Walker (10) and Hopson (nine), Ransley looked in confident form in his unbeaten 89 that included 10 fours and saw his side home in style.
Stands of 64 with Steve Dean (15) and 91 with Chris Stone (50) ensured Havant were well up with the run-rate.
And they got home with two overs to spare with skipper Richard Hindley (16 not out) playing the support role.
South Wilts have a healthy lead at the top of the table over Havant and would probably need to lose two of their last three games to give the champions the chance to make a successful defence.
But Havant tend to finish the season strongly and will heap as much pressure on their rivals as possible to make sure the title is not handed to them on a plate.
And with Havant gearing up for their Kingfisher Cup semi-final clash on August 26 at Havant Park against Wanstead & Snaresbrook, Owen believes it is a vital confidence booster.
He said: ‘It certainly keeps the spirits up for that game in a fortnight’s time.’