United Services are on the brink of making an instant return to Hampshire League division one as champions after their 34-run win over Petersfield at Burnaby Road.
Services knocked Bishop’s Waltham, who lost to Andover II, off the top with just one game left.
It means Services need just 11 points from their final game at Redlynch & Hale to finish the campaign as division two champions.
Though Services will be favourites to edge out Bishop’s Waltham, captain Matt Easton isn’t taking anything for granted.
‘The title is very much in our hands and it is ours to lose,’ said Easton.
‘It is now a case of us going to Redlynch & Hale and completing the job.
‘We know it won’t be an easy game and we will have to keep playing some decent cricket.
‘There is no room for complacency or we could come unstuck.
‘We want to finish the season in style and go up as champions.
‘The aim at the start of the season was to win promotion to Hampshire one where we feel we belong as a club.
‘To go up as champions would be the icing on the cake.’
Petersfield, with their three ex-Services players, Damian and Dom Carson and Mark Stanley, proved every bit as competitive as Easton predicted they would.
Services, on the back of wins over Old Basing and Bishop’s Waltham in the previous two weeks, had the confidence to see off their challenge.
Openers Tom May and Harry Gadd gave Services a flying start after Easton won the toss and decided to bat in the warm muggy conditions
The pair crashed 37 runs off the first four overs before two of their old boys made the first breakthrough with the wicket of Gadd.
Stanley produced a smart piece of bowling and Dom Carson held a sharp slip catch after the ball deflected off the wicket-keeper.
May continued scoring freely but two more wickets quickly followed.
Services were grateful to an excellent sixth-wicket partnership between Dan Robbins (52) and Gary Hounsome (52 not out) which steadied the ship.
Adam White crashed a vital quickfire 19 runs at the close to help Services set a target of 206 for seven.
Petersfield made an excellent start to their reply helped along by some sloppy Services play which gifted them a number of extras.
Easton then played a captain’s role in helping run-out one of the openers to set the ball rolling.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as the home side gradually squeezed the pressure on Petersfield.
‘We knew we couldn’t allow them to establish any partnerships,’ said Easton.
‘We kept chipping away and in the end they needed to score seven runs an over off the final 10 overs.’