SOUTH Wilts pulled off an amazing one-run win over Ventnor at Newclose – having stared down the barrel of defeat for most of the session.
Having restricted South Wilts to 218-8 off 64 overs, Ventnor were homing in on victory at 198-5.
But an astonishing collapse saw the last five Island wickets tumble for 19 runs and Ventnor lose the game itself by a solitary run.
Leg spinner Jake Foley won the day, taking 6-54 as Ventnor crashed to 217 all out.
“We honestly thought we’d lost it,” confessed South Wilts skipper Tom Morton.
“With 20 runs to win and five wickets left, we virtually said that was it and we were going to lose.”
The dramatic win has given South Wilts a handy 15-point lead over Havant, whose match at Alton was rained off at lunchtime.
Morton’s men will be looking to cash in when Alton visit Bemerton on Saturday (11.30am). Havant face a potentially stiffer test against Bashley (Rydal).
Although Oli Mills and former Hampshire 2nd XI batsman Jake George went cheaply, Ventnor were well placed in their run chase for a long while.
Promising left-hander Ben Duggan (39) and Tom Friend eased the reply to 97-2 and while the latter was at the crease, alongside Ian Hilsum, a home victory seemed the likely outcome.But in-bound Southampton Solent University student Jake Foley, late of Colchester & East Essex, had already unsettled Ventnor by removing danger man Friend for 62 at 160-4.
And, when he got Marc Antony Eysele and soon after Neil Westhorpe (21) to leave Ventnor 198-6, the islanders’ wobbled.
Chris Ridley was trapped leg before by Foley, who then – at 206-8 - snapped up a return catch to dismiss Hilsum (56), who was more than capable of winning the game for his side.
Toby Corbin and Adam Wilson inched Ventnor eight runs closer at 214-8, but in a dramatic finish, James Hibberd (2-48) trapped teenager Corbin leg before and then Mark Holmes became Foley’s sixth victim, again lbw.
“It was some finish,” Morton exclaimed.
“There’s a great deal of satisfaction in winning these all-day games and that’s our fourth Tim win in five. They are so important come the end of the season.”
Morton himself was chasing a third successive Premier Division century, but having made 34 in a sound opening stand of 66 with Eddie Abel, was bowled by Friend.
Jack Mynott became the first of three victims for Ridley, but Abel (51) and Steve Riddle (38) took the score on to 110.
Eysele (4-76) was making inroads with his spin, but Joe Cranch made a key 41 and added vital runs with Rob Franklin (19) as South Wilts reached 218-8 – a target score that proved just enough.