ALREADY without left-hand opener Tom Cowley, South Wilts have injury worries over three key players on the eve of Saturday’s Southern League Premier Division Vice-President’s Day match against the Hampshire Academy at Bemerton, 11am.

Cowley is on groundsman’s duty at the Hampshire-Yorkshire pink ball County Championship game at the Ageas Bowl and is replaced by off-spinner Rob Franklin.

Skipper James Hibberd, opening batsman Tom Morton and seam bowler Steve Warner all face Thursday evening fitness tests.

Hibberd retired hurt with a foot injury and was unable to bowl in last weekend’s drawn match at St Cross Symondians, while Morton is still struggling with a rugby inherited hip injury, which flared up again playing for Wiltshire on Sunday.

Warner’s shoulder injury is causing South Wilts the most concern.

James Hayward hit an unbeaten 103 as South Wilts maintained their lead at the top of the Premier Division by claiming a “winning draw” in what, for the most part, was an interesting match with St Cross Symondians at Winchester’s tree lined Green Jackets Ground.

Hayward struck his first hundred since 2015, having come to the crease with South Wilts an uncertain 76-4 and went on to steer his side to 268-7.

Matt Stokes’s role for St Cross was not dissimilar inasmuch his side lost three wickets in quick succession immediately after tea, but from 69-4 he took them to an eventual 230-7, finishing unbeaten on 98, two runs short of what would have been a deserved hundred.

Tom Morton, with a six-boundary 31, got South Wilts off to a typical flier, which Jack Bransgrove (3-59) checked and before too long the visitors were 76-4 with Steve Mitchell (3-43) sharing the spoils.

It needed some careful progress for Hayward and Ben Draper (34) to see South Wilts through to lunch five down, but with Hayward (and his dangerous array of unorthodox shots) still at the crease a sizeable total beckoned.

A brief rain break failed to dampen Hayward’s thirst for runs and, with a series of sweet timed drives and unorthodox switch, hits he breached the boundary rope 13 times before bringing up his first SPL century in four seasons.

James Hibberd (28) also worked the ball about the field before retiring hurt with a foot injury which later prevented him from bowling.

Nonetheless, South Wilts made it on to 268-7, leaving St Cross 57 overs to chase down the target or, more realistically, score 251 to get the “winning draw”, ie a great share of the points than the visitors.

The runs flowed before tea as teenage duo Billy Mead (24) and Harry Came (29) hit nine boundaries between them.

Came looked in the form of his life after his centuries for Kent seconds in the past week, but he, Mead and Dan Lunn departed within one run of each other to leave Symondians wobbling at 69-4.

Came dismissed by Ryan Murray on his way to his best figures of the season 4-46 and Luke Evans returned 3-61.

Mirroring the South Wilts innings earlier, it needed a period of crease occupation – which Stokes and Harry Foyle (33) duly provided.

Gradually, the pair rebuilt the innings, their timely stand of 116 raising optimism in the St Cross ranks they might, at 185-4, have a crack at that ‘winning draw’ target.

Stokes did his level best, finishing with 98 not out as St Cross closed at 230-7 and leaving South Wilts with a greater share of the points.

South Wilts seconds win-lose results sequence continued, this time on a positive note as their visiting Division Three counterparts Lymington were beaten by three wickets at Bemerton.

With Lymington struggling at 96-6 (Ayed Agha 37) at one point, skipper Rob Pittman expected to wrap things up a lot quicker.

But teenage duo Dan Cox (60) and Hugo Smith (32) added 84 for the seventh wicket to point the visitors towards an eventual 208-9 (Ben Fisher 3-38).

Tom Berzins (53) and Joe Cranch (42) looked to have matters under control with South Wilts’ reply at 102-1, but six more wickets fell – among those Jack Stearman (23) and Tom Pearce (21) – before Stephen Kidd (20) and Fisher’s 16 not out got them across the line.

South Wilts’ promoted third team swept to a sixth straight Hampshire League County Division Two win after a late middle-order recovery set up an 89-run win over Fair Oak II at Lapstone Park.

They were up against it at 96-6 (Edward Wade 26), but youngsters Henry Smith (26), Robert Crossley (45) and Marc Burton (23) doubled the final total to 195-9.

Fair Oak, whose ranks included former Salisbury loan goalkeeper Alex Bass, slumped to 26-4, with Tom Lewis taking 3-6 in a miserly new ball spell.

Although Matt Burrell (36) rallied, Fair Oak dropped to 106 all out, with Adam Prescott and Wade each taking two wickets.

Chris Chaddock played the key role as the fourths successfully defended 139-9 to beat visiting Regional One North West rivals Whitchurch by 25 runs.

Chaddock top scored with 41 for South Wilts and then took 3-10 as Whitchurch were bundled out for 114, Josh Croom taking 3-14.