Portsmouth face Sarisbury Athletic in last-day Southern Premier League relegation decider – the loser goes down

Portsmouth face a ‘winner-takes-all’ last-day Southern Premier League clash with Sarisbury Athletic next weekend.

Monday, 23rd August 2021, 10:04 am
Joe Kooner-Evans top scored for Portsmouth with 51 in their Southern Premier League loss to New Milton that dumped them in the relegation zone with one game remaining. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

The city club dropped into the two-team Division 1 relegation zone for the first time on Saturday after losing to New Milton by 55 runs.

At the same time Sarisbury and Andover were both winning to jump above Portsmouth - the latter by just 0.06 of a point - and leave the latter staring at a shock relegation to the third tier.

Sarisbury defeated Sparsholt, but the big surprise was Andover dishing out a 184-run hammering to weakened Basingstoke & North Hants.

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Shorn of several regulars - including leading wicket-taker Tyler Bradley and ex-Hampshire and Havant keeper/batsman George Metzger - lofty Stoke were routed for just 72 in one of the most eyebrow-raising results of a weather-interrupted campaign.

With Andover facing already relegated St Cross 2nds on the final day, whoever wins at St Helens - Portsmouth or Sarisbury - can expect to avoid the drop but condemn the losers to SPL Division 2 cricket in 2022. A tie would see Portsmouth relegated if Andover win.

Portsmouth would have started this season with high hopes of challenging for promotion, having finished third in 2019 - winning 12 of their 18 games - and fourth 12 months earlier.

But now they are looking over their shoulders at relegation after a fifth successive defeat against New Milton.

Portsmouth, who last tasted SPL victory on July 3 against Rowledge, had received a great start after winning the toss and inserting their hosts.

Joe Kooner-Evans (2-25) and Reuben McArdle both took two wickets as Milton crashed to 23-4.

The hosts were rescued by No 6 Toby Edwards lashing seven fours and four sixes in a 59-ball 77.

Captain George Watts, with an 88-ball 60 at No 7, also led a fightback as Milton posted 218-8.

McArdle was Portsmouth’s leading wicket-taker, but his three victims cost 66 runs off only seven overs - including a maiden.

McCardle conceded 23 runs off one over - Edwards hitting him for a four and three successive sixes - while he also went for 16 off his last six balls.

When Portsmouth replied, George Watts bagged an early hat-trick on his way to a 4-20 haul.

Watts dismissed Alex Hammond, Tom Wallis and Dan Wallis as the visitors slumped to 14-3.

Skipper James Christian (32) and opener Richard Warner (25) hung around for a while, but it was Kooner-Evans - batting at No 6 - who top scored.

He smacked seven fours in a 43-ball 51, adding 42 for the last wicket with Jono Brook (5 not out) as Portsmouth were dismissed for 163.

Rob Franklin took four cheap wickets as Sarisbury defeated Sparsholt by 23 runs.

Asked to chase 213 for victory, Jeremy Frith (39) and Dan Sumner (29) opened with 68 for the first home wicket.

Sparsholt then lost three wickets for no runs - two of them to Tom Kitcher (3-37) and the introduction of Franklin, the fifth and final Sarisbury bowler used, accounted for the middle order.

The former South Wilts all-rounder finished with 4-20 as Sparsholt were bowled out for 189 to give Athletic their third successive SPL victory.

Andover drafted in Hampshire’s Lewis McManus against Basingstoke, with the wicket-keeper batting at No 3.

He had a wait, though, with openers Glyn Treagus and Sam Ashman both hitting 73 in a stand of 121. When McManus did get in, he made just five.

Babu Veettil, though, smashed 46 off just 18 balls - six fours and three sixes - as Andover posted 256-6 after being inserted at May’s Bounty.

Below-strength Stoke were routed for 72, with Matt Hooper (4-15) and Mike Adams (3-20) the main wicket-takers.

Andover’s lead over Portsmouth could hardly be narrower - their points average is 10.92 and Portsmouth’s is 10.86.