IN A closely contested match, Andover First XI suffered a narrow defeat in the Southern League division one opener against Totton.

Previously in the premier division, Totton debuted Richmond Mutumbami, Andover's top batsman from last season, enhancing the excitement in the packed London Road Sports Ground.

The match commenced with Andover losing the toss and batting first on a pitch still damp from recent rain.

Totton’s strategy of a spin-dominated attack was countered swiftly as Andover whizzed to 50 in the first 10 overs. However, the initial advantage as short-lived with the score stumbling from 61 to 85-3.

Despite minor contributions from Glynn Treagus and Johnny Nyumbu, the Andover side struggled further as the game went on, their score plummeting to 118-7 from 85-3.

Although there was some late action from the tail, the innings concluded on 177 with Andover bowled out in the 41st over.

For the second half, Totton introduced a formidable batting line-up including three first-class Zimbabwean cricketers.

Andover didn't back down with their bowlers chipping away at Totton, reducing them to 47-5, despite some resistance from Totton with Mugochi and opener Baker, whose unbeaten innings of 70 strengthened the opposition's resistance, bringing the match to balance.

Despite Mugochi’s dismissal, Totton kept the scoreboard ticking, reaching 139 while Andover sought the elusive ninth wicket.

A few difficult chances missed by the Andover team, swung the game's momentum and crucially led to Totton surpassing Andover’s total with two overs left.

Despite the loss, promising performances from debutants, Garood and Berrill, and the strong display by their bowling attack left Andover on a positive note.

In their upcoming match at the London Road Sports Ground, Andover will face off against Portsmouth.

Portsmouth won their inaugural game last week and their line-up includes former Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful, another world-class player to grace the pitch.