A CRESTFALLEN Tom Morton laid sprawled on the ground, his face pointing into a dusty batting crease after agonisingly running himself out three runs short of his first ‘coming home’ century for South Wilts.

Morton had earmarked the visit of Bashley (Rydal) to Bemerton to make his first ECB Southern Premier League hundred since returning to South Wilts after two seasons away with Middlesex Premier League winners Ealing.

He had made four fifty-plus scores in his ten previous South Wilts knocks this season and with 14 boundaries under his belt and 97 glowing on the electronic scoreboard, looked all set to notch his first SW treble figure score since Alton in August 2015.

But, having punched Ross Grierson off the back foot to backward cover, Morton set off for a quick single – only to see Bashley’s Mitch Wilson dive across and make a superb one-handed stop.

Wilson’s precise throw to teenage wicketkeeper Patrick Lewis was too quick and accurate for Morton to regain his ground and the South Wilts run gun was gone.

Skipper James Hibberd didn’t budge from the non-striker’s end.

But although South Wilts had dropped from an imposing 140-1 to 160-6 when Morton departed, his 97 provided the backbone for the table-topping Salisbury side to post 234-8 and go on to win the match by 70 runs.

Bashley were bowled out for 164 - just four overs from scheduled stumps.

“It was disappointing for Tom, as he really wanted that first hundred back, but it was a great knock which set up an important win for us going into what will be a key game at Havant this Saturday,” said South Wilts skipper James Hibberd.

Morton’s century stand with Will Wade (38) pointed South Wilts towards a potentially big score, but some poor shots led to a flurry of wickets before and after lunch.

From 160-6, South Wilts needed Arthur Godsal (40) and Joe Weld (28) to add a lively 70 and get the score up to 234-8 (Josh Digby 3-56).

Bashley (Rydal) never got a foothold from then on and lost wickets at regular intervals throughout, dropping to 103-6 at one stage.

Phil Morris (60) battled his way to a maiden SPL half-century as Luke Evans (3-35) and earlier Ryan Murray (2-37) made inroads.

Bashley had the opportunity to force a draw late on, but the tail enders didn’t seem over-concerned and Godsall (3-35) was happy to mop up. Bashley were 164 all out.

“That’s probably as well as we’ve bowled as a unit this season,” Hibberd reflected.

South Wilts have an injury worry over all-rounder James Hayward (bruised thumb) ahead of Saturday’s visit to Havant. They will again be without Jack Mynott.

On Sunday, they are in T20 Cup quarter-final action when they travel to Havant