Alton Cricket Club suffer away-day blues at New Milton
Abhay Gonella on his way to 80. Picture by Mark Heffernan (@Heffers31)
It was a tale of what could have been as the Brewers’ woes away from Jubilee continued.
They finished 23 runs adrift of New Milton in their Southern Premier League Division 1 clash.
Winning the toss, captain Scott Myers elected to bowl and the new-ball partnership of Bash Walters and Arul Appavoo did not disappoint as they ripped through the New Milton top order, the home side tumbling to 18 for four.
Matt Crane caught Ryan Beck for four off Walters before Appavoo trapped both Joe Hall and Lee Beck in front in quick succession.
The perfect start for the Brewers continued when Ben Griffiths edged Walters to third slip where Michael Heffernan completed the catch.
New Milton captain George Watts joined the hard-hitting Edwards who at this stage was looking to rebuild. New Milton moved to 32 before Walters again found the edge, Myers completing the catch this time at second slip.
Alton had their fifth wicket and at this stage were in complete control, as Walters took three for 23.
Edwards then went on the counter attack as he began to plunder the visitors around the Fernhill Sports Ground.
He took advantage of a strong breeze across the ground as he moved to 50 off just 23 balls, including five fours and six maximums.
The key moment in the game came when Alton felt they had their man as a wide delivery saw him come out of his ground and wicketkeeper Mark Heffernan, with a quick bit of thinking, threw down the stumps – only for the umpire to judge the New Milton man had made his ground.
Alton were left frustrated as Edwards continued his onslaught.
Boundaries continued to rain as Alton tried to gain control. Edwards struck five more maximums as he moved to three figures in a brutal innings off just 42 balls.
Alton eventually claimed his wicket as one more attempt to clear the ropes saw him caught on the boundary by Walters off the bowling of Myers.
The game changing 100 meant the home side were now 146 for six with plenty of overs to go.
Alton thought they had made a double breakthrough when they felt Loader had gloved behind off Myers, but Alton’s appeals were again turned down.
Loader continued to frustrate as he and the New Milton lower order added valuable runs.
Michael Salmon returned to the attack as he picked up two for 48, as New Milton moved on to 184 for eight.
Alton then failed to take their chances as Loader was offered two lives as he made it to 50 off 91 balls.
Appavoo returned to the attack and picked up another LBW as he removed young wicketkeeper Wooster for 13, ending with figures of three for 27 as New Milton closed on 220 for nine.
Alton knew this was above par on a pitch that, Edwards aside, was tough to score freely on.
The home side’s position of strength was increased as Alton slipped to one for two in reply, as Harris and Mark Heffernan were both trapped LBW without scoring, Bartlett and Watts claiming a wicket apiece.
Myers joined Gonella as they looked to rebuild. Myers tried to take the attack to the home side but skied a slog-sweep straight up as he was caught and bowled for 13 by Joe Hall, leaving Alton 26 for three.
Heffernan and Gonella moved Alton past 50 but Heffernan perished trying to attack the off spin of Hall over the wind-assisted boundary, and he was trapped in front for 14.
Gonella stood firm on 25 not out as he and Tom South added 37 for the fifth wicket.
With Alton edging their way back into the game, a long hop from Hall saw South pick out man of the moment Edwards in the deep.
South had looked composed for his 19 but Alton were now in trouble at 91 for five as Hall returned figures of three for 42.
Alton moved into three figures in the 32nd over but when Egleston was caught and bowled by Watts for six, Alton were 101 for six with overs and wickets running out.
Gonella, however, remained as he made a patient but vital 50 off 102 balls.
He looked to increase the tempo as he and Crane added 39 before the latter holed out for 12 to leave his side 140 for seven.
Gonella’s vigil then came to an end as he was caught on the boundary for a fine 80 off 128 balls – and Alton were now seemingly out of the hunt at 157 for eight.
Walters then holed out for 12, Bartlett picking up three for 45 as Lee Beck completed his second catch to reduce Alton to 161 for nine.
Arul Appavoo joined Michael Salmon and despite overs running out, was the impossible on?
Appavoo scored a run-a-ball nine, giving the strike to Salmon who looked to attack.
Two maximums took Alton to within 24 of victory but with Salmon looking for anything full, the accurate Watts bowled him for 25.
Watts ended with three for 32 as Alton were all out for 197 with 3.1 overs remaining.
Edwards’ innings was the difference between the two sides as the Brewers left scratching their heads.
Alton return to Jubilee this weekend as they take on Sparsholt.
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