Hartley Wintney’s season has tailed off badly with the one-wicket defeat at Waterlooville being their sixth successive loss, a sequence of results which has left the one-time Southern Premier division 2 leaders in fourth place.

Promotion prospects looked so bright when they beat Liphook & Ripsley, the eventual champions, in early July, but since then the side, with its ever changing personnel, has lost direction.

They looked as though they had halted that losing trend when, defending 166-8 on a demanding Rowlands Avenue surface, they reduced the Ville to 94-7, Danny Nightingale taking 4-31. But being the last game of the season and with no lingering fears of relegation, Waterlooville had rejigged their batting order, with Alex Shephard (normally number three) coming in late to hit a key 48.

Angus Brown (2-12) removed Shephard and one-time Basingstoke man Dan Birch (21) to give Hartley Wintney a sniff, but last pair Archie Reynolds and Jon Hudson – normally top four in the order – got Waterlooville home by one wicket with two balls to spare.

Earlier, Brown top scored with 43 to take his run aggregate for the season to 304,(from seven knocks) but Hartley’s hopes of a competitive total were dimmed when Roy Cockram, the season’s leading run scorer with 369, pulled up lame and had to retire hurt having only made ten.