BASINGSTOKE and Mid Hants’ hopes of winning the British Athletics League National Two title are all but over following a disappointing performance in the third match of the season.

The Down Grange club could only finish sixth in Derby on Saturday, having won the first and finished as runners-up at the second match of the campaign.

Shorn of several important athletes, including decathlete Ben Hazell, the team were unable to repeat their previous high finishes, struggling especially badly in the field events.

They amassed 260 points, 72 fewer than winners Southampton, and Basingstoke team manager Ian Byett admits that his team’s chances of winning the division are probably over.

“I think the title is with Southampton now,” Byett said. “They were able to maintain their form, put out a strong team and claim another win, so unless they have a disaster at the final meeting, I think they will finish top.

“It was a very disappointing result, but we lost six athletes in the week leading up to the match. We were below-strength before that, with Ben Hazell missing, so it was a really tough day.

“Not having Ben makes a really big difference in the field events, but hopefully he and a few others will be back for the final meeting.”

Basingstoke athletes did manage to win five events on the day. Dean Showler-Davis sprinted to victory in the 100m and 200m, while Andy Blow recorded a season’s best performance to win the 110m hurdles.

Winning doubles were completed in the 200m and sprint hurdles, with Kieran Showler-Davis and Sam Sleap, who collected a total of 53 points for the team, the respective winners.

Despite their bad day, Basingstoke sit second in the table ahead of the final match of the season, which takes place in Bath on August 9.

They are level on 18 league points with third-placed Kingston AC and Polytechnic Harriers, but ahead on match points. That means they are likely to hold on to the second promotion place if they beat their main rivals in the final meeting.