DEFENDING champions South Wilts enjoy a comfortable 16-point cushion at the top of the ECB Southern Electric Premier League - despite being thwarted by Alton's tenth-wicket pair at Bemerton.

Alton, who won at Wilton Road last summer and have often been a bogey side previously, held out for a draw at 227-9 after bowling South Wilts out for 248.

"It was frustrating not to get the last wicket, but in fairness to Alton they kept going for the total after opting to bowl first on a flat pitch," reflected South Wilts all-rounder James Hayward.

"All credit to our own captain (Tom Morton), who kept fielders in the ring and invited Alton to bat positively."

Eddie Abel's first century of the season - he struck 15 fours after surviving a vociferous appeal for a catch early on when the ball appeared to strike his helmet - provided the platform for South Wilts.

Jack Mynott (25) and James Hayward (28) provided the initial support, while the fast emerging Jake Foley hit an important 24 later on.

Spinner Jack Myers wheeled away, celebrating his first five-wicket Premier League haul before Julian Ballinger (4-43) ended the innings.

Alton were always in the game, with Ryan Hale (37) and Will Phillips (48) taking their reply into treble figures.

Scott Myers (29) and Dewayne Bowden (25) kept the pot boiling as South Wilts continued to attack, keeping the game open.

Rob Franklin (3-70) removed three of that top order, but wicketkeeper Abeed Mohammed's 35 certainly maintained Alton's interest.

But when James Hibberd (4-31) took two wickets in an over and then took a blinding one-handed slip catch to remove Jack Myers off Hayward's arm ball, South Wilts sniffed victory.

Last pair Ballinger and Tom Paul held out to ensure Alton a draw at 227-9.

With Havant and Bashley (Rydal) sharing the spoils, South Wilts appear in command at the top heading into Saturday’s ECB Southern Electric Premier clash with Hampshire Academy at Bemerton (11.30am).