BOURNEMOUTH’S once powerful lead at the top of the ECB Southern Premier Division has been cut to a fragile two points after relegation-threatened Alton beat them by three wickets in a low-scoring affair at Chapel Gate.

It was Bournemouth’s second consecutive home defeat – on each occasion they were bowled out for less than 100 – and leaves the Lions clinging on to the leadership by their fingernails.

Curiously, Bournemouth came close to defending their dismal 98 all out and when Rob Pack’s six-wicket spell had Alton reeling at 51-7, the odds were stacked in their favour.

But two of Alton’s youngest players, Abhay Gonella and Freddie Egerton saw Pack (6-16) out of the attack and sensibly went about their business of scoring the remaining 48 runs without being parted.

Bournemouth’s preparations were not helped by news of a five-point deduction imposed by the Premier League for an administrative slip in not registering a second team player for the previous week’s emphatic win at South Wilts.

And when Luke Webb and Nick Park nicked behind off South African Bash Walters (4-18), soon to be followed by Luke Matthews, the Lions were in serious trouble at 28-3.

It became a struggle for runs all day for the batsmen, as Walters and 16-year old prospect Jude Wright (4-24) exploited the damp conditions below the surface.

Only Chris Park (27), Pack (22 not out) and Simon Woodruff got into double figures as Bournemouth stumbled to 98 all out.

Alton began confidently at 34 without loss.

But the coming of Pack’s left arm spin created havoc, Alton losing seven wickets for 17 runs – Pack himself bagging six of them and Jake Hurley the other – as the Brewers lurched to 51-7.

Gonella, a fresher year student at the London School of Economics, watched with some trepidation as seven team-mates departed back to the pavilion, but held firm himself, eventually finding a reliable partner in last year’s Winchester College captain Freddie Egerton.

Bit by bit, run by run, they wrestled the initiative away from Bournemouth – Gonella finishing with 38 not out and Egerton 23 not out as Alton pulled off an astonishing three-wicket win.