New Milton lose grip on the top as Totton open gap
Southern Premier League Division One
Totton & Eling CC 148-8
New Milton CC 147
NEW MILTON lost their second game in a row, this time in a top-of-the-table clash with league leaders Totton at Southern Gardens.
The New Forest-based side started the league campaign in blistering form, winning their first four games. However, back-to-back defeats have seen them slip to second place, with Totton in a commanding position.
Visiting skipper George Watts won the toss and decided to bat first on a lovely warm day. The new opening pair of Toby Edwards (22) and Cardiff University all-rounder Campbell Golding (16) put New Milton in a good position after racing to 32 off the first four overs of the match.
However, a batting collapse raised its ugly head once again. Milton's lack of discipline and poor shot selection saw them throw away another positive start and struggling at 79-7.
Harlan Greig (19) was an early exception before reliable captain Watts chipped in with a top-scoring 26 runs in the second half of the innings while sharing small partnerships with the tail.
Dan Loader (10), Alex Mills (11) and Jack Humphrey (13 not out) helped nudge the final total up to a below-par 147 all out with five balls of the allotted 40 overs left.
Totton's spinners chopped and changed all through the innings and claimed nine of the visitors' wickets with Harry Stephens (4-20) the pick of the bunch.
In reply, the Green and Gold bowlers were determined not to repeat last week's bowling display when they failed to make inroads into the opposition line-up in a nine-wicket loss to Portsmouth.
Totton reached 30-0 before Watts (2-21) struck the first blow, luring Stephens into a shot that Edwards easily caught at mid-off.
The leg-spinner Greig (3-37) removed dangerous veteran Jimmy Taylor (19) LBW to leave Totton tottering at 57-3.
However, an aggressive partnership of 63 runs between Ethan Taylor (34) and Owen Morris (35 not out) took the home side within sight of victory.
With Totton in cruise control, Taylor played one aggressive shot too many off Greig and was caught at mid-wicket by Golding to offer the visitors a sniff of victory as Totton then lost four quick wickets for only six runs.
Panic set in as Lee Beck (3-32) removed Brighton Mugochi (0) and Tom Cheater (4) before Watts removed his opposite number, Sam Bracey (0), by way of a Loader slip catch.
Owen Morris (35 not out) was still at the crease when he found a partner in Peruzi (12) who hung around just long enough to take his team to within three runs of victory before being removed by Beck.
Morris notched the required runs to seal a two-wicket win.
In their next match, New Milton host Sarisbury Athletic CC on Saturday at Fernhill.