Alton produced a superb performance to thrash defending Southern Premier Cricket League Premier Division champions St Cross Symondians by nine wickets.
With the customary Saturday rain shower, the start of play was delayed. The toss took place between showers and Alton skipper Scott Myers secured a rare success and had no hesitation in fielding first on what looked like a bowler-friendly surface.
Play started at 2pm in what was now a 42 overs-per-side game. Despite the conditions being in the bowlers’ favour, Alton knew they would need to bowl well against a full-strength St Cross side bolstered by the late addition of Hampshire player Felix Organ.
Bash Walters took the new ball with Tom Andrews.
Walters (three for 12) made the early breakthrough as Jack Bransgrove looked to take advantage of a rare loose delivery but could only find Tom Varney at cover who took a smart low catch to give Alton their first wicket. St Cross were eight for one.
Organ came to the crease and was watchful early on as Andrews and Walters kept the pressure on.
With the ball nipping about Alton were creating chances, but St Cross managed to move to 25 before Walters produced a beauty to find the outside edge of Organ’s bat.
Myers took a low catch at slip to send the Hampshire man on his way for eight.
Walters then clean bowled opener Joseph Lewis for 11 as St Cross slipped to 27 for three.
Varney replaced Walters and the Alton seamer continued where Walters had left off.
He trapped Charlie Mumford in front without scoring and the champions were wobbling at 33 for four.
Charlie Gwynn was joined by Simon Woodruff and the pair looked to counter. The two left-handers looked to attack the off-spin of Dan Sumner as they added 36 for the fourth wicket.
The game then swung dramatically in the Brewers’ favour after drinks.
Myers removed Gwynn for 21, with Varney making good ground to complete the catch. St Cross were now 69 for five.
The next passage of play belonged to the young Alton seamer Varney. He removed Ed Ellis with a strangle down the leg side, as Alton keeper Mark Heffernan made good ground to take a sharp catch.
With the Brewers buoyant Varney steamed in, and Harry Trussler played on first ball.
The hat-trick was not meant to be, but this did not deter Varney. He clean bowled Woodruff for 24 and then produced a beauty to Sam Beer as the Australian was bowled for a duck. Both delivers hit the top of the stumps as St Cross crumbled to 84 for nine.
Varney collected his first Brewers five-for and ended with figures of five for 20 from his nine-over spell.
Tom South ended the innings when he removed Harry Foyle for five as St Cross were bundled out for just 88.
Alton have struggled with the bat this season, and with the surface still offering a lot to the bowlers, the Brewers knew they would need to make a positive start.
A few nerves would have been felt in the Alton camp when Freddie Egleston was adjudged leg before wicket off the bowling of Matt Haworth for seven to leave Alton on seven for one.
Skipper Myers joined Dan Harris and the pair looked to be ultra-positive. Any nerves were eased as the Alton pair took the attack to the St Cross bowlers. Myers was the aggressor early on, hitting a flurry of early boundaries.
Harris then got in on the act in spectacular style as he smashed Beer for five fours in one over. Alton raced to 50 inside the eighth over.
Harris and Myers added 50 runs off 39 balls as Alton continued to attack the low total.
The home side replaced seam with the spin of Organ and Gwynn, but the Brewers continued to attack and raced to their target in the 14th over.
Myers sealed the win and in the process moved to his half-century off 48 balls to end unbeaten on 53. Harris finished unbeaten on 30 off just 20 balls.
The unbroken partnership of 85 included 14 fours and one six to see the Brewers home to a vital victory in the fight for survival.
Alton entertain Hampshire Academy today (Saturday) before they face Old Tauntonians & Romsey in the Southern Premier Cricket League Twenty20 Cup semi-finals at the Jubilee Ground tomorrow (Sunday).