BOURNEMOUTH captain Martin Miller believes title hopefuls New Milton will be “kicking themselves” after defeat at Chapel Gate on Saturday.
Chasing a home total of 197, the Green and Golds were on course for victory at 125 for one but a middle-order batting collapse proved costly.
New Milton were eventually dismissed just 12 runs short of the target in the final over as the Southern Premier League Division One title race took another twist.
Sarisbury suffered a 51-run defeat at Liphook & Ripsley but still displaced New Milton at the top, while Basingstoke & North Hants are in contention for a shot at promotion heading into the final weekend following a 25-run win over Andover.
The stage is set for a thrilling final day on which the top four will face each other, with New Milton due to host Basingstoke and Bournemouth scheduled to travel to Sarisbury.
Miller told the Daily Echo: “New Milton were well-placed at 125 for one on Saturday so they will be kicking themselves because the game was theirs.
“We played very well overall. It was no more satisfying than any other win we’ve had this year but it was hard-fought. I was very pleased with the performance we put in and that we came out on top.
“As a club we were struggling with injuries and unavailability so Paul Rutland and Patrick Lloyd made their debuts. To win against a top-of-the-table side when we weren’t at full-strength was excellent.
“We will do whatever we can for New Milton this weekend. I’m not saying we will go to Sarisbury with a strong side but we will have the same intention that we did on Saturday – to try and win the game.”
After losing the toss, Bournemouth were put in to bat and worked their way to 197.
South African Brad Schmulian led the way with an unbeaten 90 and alongside him Jake Hurley (24), Miller (34) and Dave Kidner performed admirably. New Milton’s Lee Beck took two for 29 and skipper Ryan Beck two for 37.
The visitors looked in good shape in reply as they lost just Nick Park (4) on their way to 125, with Mark House (53) and James Park (62) in top form.
However, Ryan Beck (19) was the only batsmen to get into double figures after that as Schmulian, Kidner and Hurley erupted into life.
Rob Pack caught George Watts off the bowling of Hurley to close the result out in the final over.
Schmulian finished with three for 24 while Hurley notched three for 51.