Alton win to keep pressure on league leaders
Alton kept the pressure on league leaders Sarisbury Athletic with an emphatic 125-run win at Ventnor on Saturday.
Alton faced an early start as they travelled to the Isle of Wight to face Ventnor at the unique Steephill ground.
The Brewers welcomed back Toby Salmon and Joe Paul into the ranks. The home side won the toss and elected to bowl.
That decision soon paid dividends as Alton were in immediate trouble. Ollie Morgan was on the spot with his first ball, and Alton opener Gonella edged the ball to first slip.
The score was soon six for two, Mark Heffernan edging the former Worcestershire seamer Chris Russell to slip.
Alton looked to their leading run scorers to steady the ship. Scott Myers joined Dan Harris and moved Alton to 34 before Russell foxed Harris with a superb slower ball – Harris failed to pick it and was trapped in front for 18.
Michael Heffernan came to the crease with Alton in need of a partnership. Both Myers and Heffernan were watchful as they saw off the new ball pairing of Morgan and Russell.
They added 47 before Myers – looking to hit Calloway over extra cover – could only find the fielder on the deep cover boundary. With Myers gone for 21, Alton were again facing a rebuild at 81 for four.
Tom South came in and looked to counter attack, striking six fours and six in a 29-ball stay that yielded 39 runs as he and Heffernan added 67 in quick time. Heffernan moved to a well-made 50 off 66 balls.
However, one shot too many from South saw him caught off the bowling of Sri Lankan overseas Dineth Thimodya. Runs were not the issue with the board showing 148 with plenty of overs remaining, but Alton were now five down.
Freddie Egleston came to the crease and immediately looked comfortable as he and Heffernan continued to accumulate. Heffernan’s controlled innings was ended as he went to cut the off spin of Thimodya but was only able to edge behind – Ventnor skipper Ben Woodhouse making no mistake as Heffernan was removed for 68 to leave Alton on 192 for six. Egleston remained and Alton moved past 200 with more than 11 overs remaining.
Joe Paul was caught for nine and when Bash Walters fell soon after Alton were stuttering a little on 230 for eight.
On a quick scoring ground and a good pitch the visitors knew they needed to add more to their total. Egleston ensured this was the case as he began to take control.
He reached his 50 off 53 balls and then took the attack to the home side, striking a further 35 runs inside the final four overs. Toby Salmon added 17 of his own as they added 63 for the ninth wicket. Alton closed on 293 for eight, with Egleston unbeaten on 85.
Despite the daunting total Alton knew they would need to be at their best – Thimodya would be key as he opened up for the home side.
Early exchanges were even, but despite beating the bat a number of times the Ventnor openers moved the score to 33 before Alton got their first wicket. It was worth the wait as Alton’s overseas Walters superbly found the edge of Thimodya’s bat, Myers with the catch at second slip.
Namish Verma and number three Ollie Morgan frustrated the Brewers but the introduction of Toby Salmon brought about a double breakthrough.
Morgan was caught at slip for 13 and the aggressive Ross Whyte was bowled as Ventnor slipped to 75 for three. Verma then fell to Myers for 42, Mark Heffernan completing the catch behind the stumps, and when Salmon picked up his third – removing Russell without scoring – the home side were further in trouble at 99 for five. Salmon finished with figures of three for 35.
Young Sam Mills looked comfortable as and Calloway moved the score to 134 before the spin of South trapped Calloway in front for 17. The hosts were now six down and struggling to stay with the rate. Mills edged closer to his half-century before the introduction of Egleston saw him fall for 48 – Myers with his third slip catch to leave Ventnor on 163 for seven. South and Egleston shared a wicket apiece before Walters ended proceedings as Ventnor were bundled out for 168 in the 43rd over.
A good all-round performance from the Brewers saw them return home on the ferry in good spirits. They will look to make it four wins in a row when they host New Milton.
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