Andover v Sarisbury Athletic.
A depleted Andover came unstuck against against high-flying Sarisbury Athletic at London Road on Saturday.
Deprived of wounded leader Mike Adams, stand in skipper David Taylor lost a crucial toss in conditions that promised much for Sarisbury’s battery of pacemen.
On a green and sprightly surface, the visitors matched hostility with discipline to extract the most from the early conditions and were richly rewarded at regular intervals.
A rare failure for Vision Express sponsored Andover’s powerful triumvirate of David Taylor, Glyn Treagus and Byron Haycock saw the home side reeling at 47-3, before promotion-chasing Sarisbury capitalised against an inexperienced and vulnerable middle order.
Although the shotmaking pair of Matt Knight and Max Souter briefly lifted hopes, Knight’s unfortunate run out prompted a sharp collapse with Andover closing on a meagre 121 all out.
Knowing any sort of miraculous comeback was contingent on early wickets, Taylor bowled with real menace, opening his account with the fine dismissal of Rawlins in the first over.
His early pressure, in conjunction with the erratic threat of Ed Duckworth, saw Andover temporarily set the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons as they looked to capitalise on any potential nerves in this smallest of chases.
A predictably loose shot saw Hammond perish to a sharp catch in the covers, before a tumbling Duckworth produced lavish sideways movement to account for Sarisbury danger man Banks and give Andover the slightest glimpse of an unthinkable victory.
Ultimately, such optimism was short lived as a flattening pitch allowed the scratchy Norris to chance his arm to good effect. In conjunction with an unbeaten 46 from Zimbabwean Kieran Gayle, Norris’ half century took Sarisbury to the brink before a late pair of wickets, one each for Danny Foy and Taylor, gained Andover an additional bonus point.