ANDOVER first XI fell to their second consecutive defeat, losing at home by three wickets to a powerful Sarisbury line-up, despite a five wicket salvo from ever-green seamer Richard Taylor.

A Friday night deluge left the ground-staff with a mammoth task of getting the usually rock-hard London Road track ready for 100 overs of cricket.

Despite their best efforts, water had leaked onto the wicket making it a crucial toss to win as the ground dried out in the blustery conditions.

It was Sarisbury skipper Ricky Rawlins who won the toss and had no hesitation in putting Nordlock sponsored Andover in to bat.

Andover openers Ali Hooper (14) and Glyn Treagus (1) toiled in the conditions but with both back in the pavilion after five overs, it was clear that it would be a day for application with the bat.

In form duo, Matt Knight (49) and Lewis McManus (69), rebuilt the innings with a 90 run partnership, taking the total to 116 after 35 overs, with Knight falling agonisingly one run short of a deserved half-century.

Hampshire star McManus once again showed his class at the crease with a composed 50, picking off bad balls when they came along, including one huge six into the car park.

Charlie Ayers (16) looked to kick the innings up a gear with some lusty shots, but was unlucky to be run-out to a superb piece of fielding from Rawlins.

However, this laid the platform for Nathan Birks, celebrating his 19th birthday, to flay the Sarisbury attack in an enterprising 37 not out, including two maximums.

In the quest for quick runs, wickets fell in the final overs, leaving Andover on a competitive 214-8 from their 50 overs. Pick of the bowlers was opener Jordon Wright with 3-36 off his 10 overs.

The Sarisbury run-chase started in explosive fashion with Rawlins (41) and opening partner Sam Floyd (31) punishing the new ball, racing to 50 off the first ten overs.

Hooper had no choice but to rotate his bowlers and this was rewarded with great effect when Richard Taylor clean bowled Rawlins and Jordan Wright in consecutive deliveries, then found the edge of Floyd's bat to Treagus at slip, to swing the game back in Andover's favour.

Talented batsman Thomas Nightingale (66) then played an unusually patient knock that was to eventually win Sarisbury the game, but not without moments of panic from the visitors.

Josh Hill (43) combined with Nightingale to put on 110 for the fourth wicket partnership and got their side within touching distance of victory. Andover were to rue dropped catches and missed opportunities as the visitors put pressure on the home side.

Two more wickets for Taylor, giving him his first five wicket haul of the season, and two for the returning Mike Adams saw the chase go down to the final over.

With two new faces at the crease and four needed to win, batsman Will Bolton held his nerve to hit the winning runs for Sarisbury with three wickets in tact and five balls to spare.

A close game that swung in both directions over the course of the day but a deserved win for Sarisbury Athletic. Andover will dust themselves off and head to New Milton on Saturday and then host Hythe and Dibden in the first round of the T20 cup on Sunday.