ANDOVER ended up in a dramatic tie against neighbours St Cross in a topsy-turvy Southern Cricket League match.

Sharing the points means Andover remain in the second promotion spot but it could have quite easily have ended differently.

Andover skipper John Nyumbu lost the toss and the Winchester side elected to bat first.

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This looked to be a good decision with St Cross scoring some early runs. However, Nyumbu made an inspired choice in switching the opening bowling pair of Mike Adams (21-2) and Babu Veettil (32-1) to the opposite ends.

With the score on 24, Adams picked up the first wicket - clean bowling the St Cross opener.

Matt Hooper (35-1) replaced Veettil, but it was Adams who got his second wicket, removing the dangerous ex-Hampshire player Laney LBW.

Hooper immediately followed this with his first wicket, well caught by Harri Williams standing up to the stumps, and St Cross were 48-3.

St Cross started to rebuild and the score moved to 94 before Nyumbu (15-3) introduced himself to the attack and picked up a wicket with his first ball.

At the end of his first over Nyumbu picked up another wicket, a plumb LBW and Nyumbu had two wickets for no runs. Richard Taylor (20-1) replaced Adams and he picked up the next wicket after St Cross had passed 100.

Nyumbu was bowling brilliantly and St Cross were looking to survive the Zimbabwean’s spell but this allowed him to attack and he picked up his third wicket - another LBW - and St Cross were 104-7.

The St Cross batters then changed tact and started to defend. Leg-spinner Charlie Ayers (18-2) replaced Taylor and he broke the small partnership of 26 with a sharp stumping by Williams. St Cross then progressed to 154 before the Ayers-Williams combination teamed up again for the ninth wicket and in the very next over, the returning Veettil, picked up the last wicket to bowl St Cross out in the 44th over.

On a sluggish pitch the Andover batters knew they would have to bat well to pass the Winchester side’s total. Andover slipped to 23-2 losing both openers and the St Cross total looked a long way away.

Sam Ashman (4) was bowled and Glyn Treagus (8) was adjudged LBW which left the town side in a spot of bother. Seven runs later Ayers (4) was bowled and Andover were in deeper trouble.

The in-form Nathan Birks (14) joined Harri Williams (26) and the pair started to rebuild the innings. Unfortunately, Birks, who was just starting to get settled, fell LBW and Andover were 48-4 still 100 behind their Winchester rivals.

Max Souter (23) came in at number six for Andover, following his 140 runs for Andover Second XI last week and he batted sensibly in wrestling the momentum back from St Cross.

Just as Andover were starting to get on top, Souter fell looking to impose himself on the Winchester bowlers. Andover quickly went from 86-5 to 105-7 as Williams was caught off the spinner when trying to push the scoring along.

The big-hitting Veettil (14) hit one big six but fell caught and bowled and Andover were 50 runs short with three wickets left.

Andover were well ahead of the rate with all the batters scoring freely but none seemed to be able to score the match-winning score required.

Hooper (21*) and Nyumbu (13) started slowly, reducing the deficit including another big six, this time from Nyumbu.

Nyumbu was then bowled by an undependable Yorker and Adams (0) fell two balls later and Andover were 122-9.

With 32 runs required and 20 overs to bat, Andover’s last pair of Hooper and Taylor (7) now faced an uphill struggle to avoid defeat. The pair were naturally cautious, taking singles when they could but all the pressure was on the Andover pair.

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The St Cross bowlers bowled well until Hooper was able to hit the returning opening bowler for two boundaries and in the next over there was a welcome five wides.

Andover moved to within a handful of runs and with some sensible running and careful dabs to third man the Andover pair were able to bring themselves level with St Cross.

Now Andover were in the ascendancy again but just as victory was now looking the likely conclusion, Taylor was trapped in front of his stumps and was given out LBW.

Both sides picked up 13 points from the game which means Andover retain their second place position in the table.

With the top two being promoted, and third placed Romsey recording a big victory, the 13 points was much needed when they could have easily come away with nothing.

Andover will be rueing missed opportunities in particular with the batting, a strength of the eight-match winning streak from earlier in the season.

A number of players managed to get positives starts but none were able to go on to get a score to get the Andover side home.

Andover will face Fawley (12.30pm start) at London Road on Saturday. With two games left the permutations start to get confusing, but Andover know, two victories will see them promoted and they hope to get the first of these on Saturday.