Andover first XI rued missed chances as they fell agonisingly short at London Road against Fair Oak in their Southern Premier League division 2 tie on Saturday.

Nordlock-sponsored Andover welcomed back Martin Roberts and were looking to cement their positions as the early pace setters in the league standings.

Andover captain, Matt Hooper, won the toss and decided to bowl first with rain in the forecast. This decision could have been vindicated early on but Hooper put down an early chance off Michael Adams and it proved to be costly.

Fair Oak captain Gregor McKenzie took full advantage, hammering two sixes in a quick fire 56 before he fell to John Nyumbu. Fair Oak had raced to 59-1 and Andover knew removing McKenzie would put the brakes on.

Andover bowled well with Babu Veettil, Adams and Nyumbu all restricting the Fair Oak batters. Aidan Jansen replaced a luckless Veettil and he couldn’t prize out a further wicket until a returning Adams made it 80-2.

Fair Oak added another 50 before Nyumbu took a sharp chance off his own bowling and the innings was in the balance. It was at this point that Andover had a big appeal for a caught behind off Nyumbu that was surprisingly turned down which would have put Andover in the ascendency.

Fair Oak continued to pick off the runs and Andover had to work hard to get another breakthrough. Veettil then picked up a wicket and this was quickly followed by one for Jansen as Fair Oak went onto 180-5.

With the last few overs seeing Fair Oak chancing their arm Andover picked up one more wicket, falling to Veettil, which was well caught by Hooper and Fair Oak finished their 50 overs on 245-6.

Andover felt this was about par on a typically flat London Road pitch but the town side knew that one of the batters would need to put together a big score.

Harri Williams (13) and Sam Ashman (28) started well and Andover scored all around the wicket. Unfortunately, Williams was first to fall with the score on 34.

Martin Roberts (25) joined Ashman and the pair found scoring challenging. This put pressure on Ashman who then went for a big shot and was caught with the score on 64. Roberts and Charlie Ayers took the side through to drinks and Andover were behind the rate but with wickets in hand.

Unfortuantely, Roberts fell when looking set for a big score and he was quickly followed by Hooper. Matt Knight (29) and Ayers (43) started to play some bigger shots and pushed the singles to put pressure back on Fair Oak. This pair took Andover to 150 before Ayers was caught going for another big shot.

Veettil (39) came in and immediately took the attack to the Fair Oak bowlers. Andover progressed to 185 but lost Knight falling again trying to keep up with the run rate. He was quickly followed by Brandon Smith who had to go out and attack and it was all down to Veettil now.

Unlike he has done on several occasions, Veettil fell with a handful of overs to go. It was then left up to the Andover tailenders to take the town side to 228-9 from their 50 overs, falling 17 runs short of their visitors.

This defeat drops Andover down to third in the table. Andover travel to Hambledon on Saturday, who sit top of the table having won all of their matches so far this season.

Andover now know that in both defeats this season their have missed opportunities to put themselves in winning positions. Andover will looking to make amends and aim to move back to the summit of the table with a victory on Saturday.