HISTORY suggested that the change to the ‘timed’ game format suited Alton and so it proved as the Brewers recorded their second win of the season in the Southern Premier League.
But it was a close call against New Milton, Alton winning by 16 runs at the Jubilee Ground.
After recent batting failures, Scott Myers sent New Milton into the field, but things did not start well for the home side as Alex Hammond departed without a run on the board.
However, young Abhay Gonella, Alton’s new signing from Surrey Championship side Sunbury, showed no sign of nerves as he and Dan Harris put on 32, the latter playing some aggressive shots before also falling to George Watts.
Scott Myers joined Gonella and the pair dug in, trying to build a platform as the ball got softer, although scoring was never easy on a slow track. The pair had added 57 when Gonella was unluckily run out for a patient 25 off 109 balls.
Michael Heffernan was caught just before lunch and Alton went into the break at 103-4, having used up 43 overs.
With a maximum of 21 overs left, Myers and Mark Heffernan looked to get the scoreboard ticking over and 50 valuable runs were added. Myers moved to his half-century, remaining vigilant throughout with calculated stroke-play as the Brewers approached a competitive total.
Heffernan was caught on the boundary off Nick Gargaro who then dismissed Abeed Janmohamed and the Brewers were 167-6.
When Myers fell for 84 off 131 balls – a true captain’s innings – Alton were wobbling at 168-7. Looking for the extra bonus point before 60 overs, Alton lost their eighth wicket at 172, but overseas player Sean Jamison played a vital late cameo, hitting two sixes and a four, and saw the 200 up off the last ball of the 64th over.
Alton knew they had to bowl well and after a steady start by New Milton, Jamison had opposing overseas man David Wakefield caught by Scott Myers at second slip.
Ollie Shrubsole then misjudged a Scott Myers full-toss and it was 36-2. Just before tea, Jamison had James Haggaty put down and a stand of 32 with opener Tom Arnold was the prelude to a tense final session, with all outcomes possible.
The spin duo of Jack Myers and Julian Ballinger were entrusted to make the breakthrough and it was the former who got Haggaty, thanks to a fantastic stumping by Janmohamed. Ballinger then made a double breakthrough and the visitors were 89-5, but with Arnold standing firm as he reached a patient 50.
New Milton moved past 100 before Jamison returned to bowl Dan Loader and when the South African claimed his third victim, the visitors were 127-7 and Alton had the edge in this enthralling encounter.
Young Ralf Hussey hit 23 from 23 balls before being caught behind off Jamison and New Milton were edging closer to the winning draw target and also the outright win, with the gritty Arnold gaining support from the late order.
Alton put another catch down and with four overs to go, they needed two wickets and New Milton required 21 runs. Myers brought himself back and promptly had Cambell Golding caught by a relieved Hammond, who had just dropped him.
Four leg-byes moved the score to 184-9, but then Gargaro was trapped in front by Myers’ fourth ball of the over and New Milton’s resistance was finally broken. Arnold was still there after 57 overs, 80 not out off 155 balls.
Alton visit Winchester this Saturday to face the powerful St Cross side.
• Alton 2nd XI suffered their fourth defeat in five games, losing by 121 runs away to Waterlooville in the Southern Premier League Division Three.
Waterlooville scored a hefty 232 all out, with James Hortie and Tim Jackson completing half-centuries. Sam Hillman chipped in with 41, while Lee Partner returned creditable figures of 5-23 in in 7.2 overs and Toby Salmon claimed 4-47 in 10.
Alton never really got going in reply. Only Tom Green and Shane Moody reached 20 as Alton were dismissed for 111, with Hillman and Finlay Rockett sharing seven wickets.