THE great escape is on after bottom side Andover turned the form book upside down with a 87-run victory at high flying Lymington in the Southern League Premier Division.

Having arrived only 15 minutes before the game due to typically heavy New Forest traffic and skipper Matt Hooper lost the toss and the Lions were put into bat.

The visitors lost opener Will Arnold without scoring, but homegrown Andover star Josh Ballentine-Dykes (26) and overseas star Chamika Karunaratne (50) set about overcoming the early loss.

After some tight bowling, Ballentine-Dykes broke the shackles with enormous six into the neighbouring tennis courts.

This paved the way for Andover to go on the attack and the pair took the score up to 63 off 16 overs before Ballentine-Dykes departed.

New man Glyn Treagus was adjudged LBW without scoring, with young gun Will Carr joining Karunaratne at the crease.

The two batted sensibly with Carr showing his burgeoning potential with a glorious straight drive.

Sadly for the town side, Carr (9) was removed by a spectacular slip catch, leaving Andover wobbling at 90-4. Karunaratne brought up a well made half century showing a combination of exquisite attacking and defensive technique on the tricky forest pitch.

He played the starring role in helping Andover reach 100-4 at the 25 over drinks break.

After the interval, Andover suffered a double blow as Karunaratne was caught at long on for 57 and new batsmen Matt Knight was removed for 13.

Martin Roberts followed soon after for two and skipper Matt Hooper was caught at slip first ball as the town side collapsed to 120-8.

Harry Blackburn (28) and Mike Adams (21) proved the saving grace for Andover with some lusty blows and quick running between the wickets, the pair put on a 50 run partnership to take Andover up to 170 which seemed about par on a deteriorating pitch.

Lady luck appeared not to be on Andover's side with both Lymington openers managing to avoid fielders with as series of edges and miss-hits and reached 44-0 off the first 10 overs and Matt Hooper introduced himself and Karunaratne into the attack.

Hooper struck immediately trapping both openers Crabb (32) and Hand (12) leg before.

Karunaratne got into the act by skilfully bowling two fast bouncers at new batsman Lock before bowling him with the third.

Hooper and Karunaratne continued to inflict damage on the Lymington batting line up with Hooper removing Scott (3) and opposition captain Beetham (0).

Karunaratne then took the crucial wicket of Ellis with a well disguised slower ball for 18 and then struck next ball to remove Calcott first ball.

This extraordinary passage of play saw Lymington lose eight wickets for 20 runs and all but gave Andover the win.

Robertson (9) gave some resistance but Hooper gained his sixth wicket as Lymington were bowled out for 83.

Skipper Hooper said after the game, "It was great to finally get a victory. We are hopeful that this will give us some momentum into the final three games, two of which are against Alton and New Milton, two teams down the bottom with us.

"When we got 170 we knew Lymington would have to bat well to chase it down – and their Zimbabwean big hitter Malcolm Lake and Hampshire’s Calvin Dickinson weren’t playing,” added bowling hero Hooper, who trapped five of his six victims leg before.

“The pitch was well suited to spin and I had one of those days where they kept getting hit bang in front. It was turning a long way and going up and down.

"They played me well to be fair, but there was always one that could keep low so I felt I was always in with a chance. Chamika bowled very well at the other end to keep the pressure on and he deserved his wickets."

Andover entertain Alton at London Road on Saturday in a crucial relegation battle.