It was arguably one of the best and most dramatic matches there have been in 21 years of ECB Southern Premier League cricket.

South Wilts, defending a relatively modest 203, reduced St Cross Symondians to 84-9 before the Winchester club’s last pair Ed Ellis and Matt Haworth share a century stand to send nerves jangling and the deficit to a mere 12 runs.

Then, with St Cross 191-9 and potentially only two scoring shots away from a quite remarkable victory, South Wilts’ wicketkeeper captain Ben Draper bags a record-equalling seventh victim of the innings and the hosts were all out.

Matt Burton celebrates a career-best return of 6-45 as Symondians’ unbeaten start to the season is ended and the last unblemished record gone.

St Cross Symondians skipper Ed Ellis admitted: “It was so frustrating to get so close. It became very nerve-racking out there in the middle, particularly when we got to within 20 runs of their total, but they were feeling it too.

“It was a great game and a fantastic effort for us to get so close. In the end it’s the hope that kills you.”

South Wilts’ total owed much to a vigilant 86 by Jack Mynott, who glued the innings together after Tom Morton and Jack Stearman had gone cheaply.

Hitting nine fours in a 125-ball stay at the crease, Mynott shared handy partnerships with Ben Draper (20), James Hayward (29) and Peter Roe (22) before being bowled by the influential Haworth (4-28) at 182-5.

Matt Burton bowling

Matt Burton bowling

The Coombe Bissett all-rounder had looked set for a century and South Wilts a total approaching 250, but neither materialised as the visitors lost their last six wickets for 21 runs and were 203 all out, with two overs unused. Harry Foyle and Haworth shared four of the last six wickets.

St Cross were rocked back on their heels by 23-year old Burton, who nipped out opening pair Mike Haworth and Tom Foyle before having Brad Taylor and Jimmy Adams both caught behind to have the title favourites rocking at 23-4.

“The new ball was doing a bit both ways off the pitch and I was hitting the deck hard. To get players of the quality of Brad Taylor and Jimmy Adams out was really pleasing,” Burton beamed.

“Ben is improving with every game behind the stumps and, whilst having a lot on his plate as number four batsman and skipper, did really well.”

Harry Came (33) struck six fours before feathering a climbing delivery from Steve Warner to give Draper his fourth victim.

Aided by Draper, who was catching everything that came near him, Warner (3-40) and Burton continued to create deep inroads as St Cross lurched to 69-8 and later 84-9.

South Wilts, so heavily beaten by Bashley (Rydal) in their league opener on May 1, were on the brink of a thumping victory of their own, but Ellis and Haworth (who would bat in the middle order for Symondians’ second team) refused to buckle.

Run by run, boundary by boundary they drew the St Cross reply closer, Ellis admitting: “When we had 90 or so on the board we could almost do as we liked as there was no pressure, but the closer we got to what began as a faint hope of victory almost became a reality.”

Ellis had 18 runs to his name when Haworth joined him at the crease. The pair both passed fifty, scoring 13 boundaries between them to ease St Cross to within 12 runs of victory, with 22 balls to spare.

But with his second ball of the 47th over, off-spinner Mynott, bowling from the St Cross church end of the ground, lured Haworth marginally out his crease and, quick as a flash, Draper whipped off the bails for the crucial stumping and his seventh victim of a memorable day. Ellis was left 62 not out.