LEADERS New Milton’s surprise eight-wicket defeat at the hands of mid-table Liphook & Ripsley at Fernhill blew the Division One title race wide open.

The Green & Golds, who blazed a trail at the top after winning their first nine games, suffered a second reverse in three to allow Sarisbury Athletic to close the gap.

Nick Park (22) and Ben Lawes (21) both made starts as New Milton struggled against Ryan Covey (4-25), the hosts closing their 50 overs at 145 for nine.

And with Covey (74) also in fine form with the bat, Liphook & Ripsley eased home at 148 for two, avenging their 85-run defeat at Ripsley Park in June.

Bournemouth’s slim chances of gate-crashing the promotion frame nosedived following a narrow 12-run defeat at Andover.

Chapel Gate old boy Glyn Treagus (68) was their chief tormentor, his knock helping the hosts post 222 for six despite the best efforts of Ben Bridgen (3-52).

Although the chase started well for the Lions, with a second-wicket stand of 78 taking them to 113 for one, Treagus entered the fray to break the partnership by claiming the scalp of Bridgen (38).

Mike Kitson (55) dug deep to keep alive Bournemouth’s hopes but although Jake Hurley (27) and Anschuman Singh (28) added late runs, they were stopped at 210.