Fair Oak made a winning return to Lapstone Park on Saturday with victory by four wickets over New Milton in Southern Premier Division 2 - thanks largely to an improved showing with the bat sparked by skipper Harry Reed.

Early on it was all Fair Oak, as James Gradwell (3 for 17) and Ben Smith (2 for 14) ripped out four of the top five Milton batters with just 25 on the board. But Ollie Shrubsole stood firm amidst the carnage, making 81 before being ninth out at 185. 

He got good support from Lee Beck (41) in a fifth-wicket stand of 92, while Ed Denham chipped in with a useful 19 in another fifty partnership with the opener. Sree Yegnasubramanian then dismissed the tail, concluding the New Milton innings at 185 with 3 for 37, while keeper Matt White will be happy with his haul of four catches.

Reed had been short of runs – like most of his colleagues – but he patiently took Oaks to 116 for 3 thanks to stands of 43 with his brother Sam (31) and James Todd, who made 23.  His contribution was 52. 

Opening bowler Ed Bartlett took 3 for 29, but Yegnasubramanian, who finished unbeaten on 31, and White, who made 26, steered the hosts towards the winning line by putting on 45 for the sixth wicket. Oaks duly cantered in shortly afterwards with four-and-a-half overs and four wickets still in the bank.

Fair Oak climbed out of the relegation zone with their 22-point haul, and are at home again this weekend against mid-table Langley Manor.

Visiting Longparish in Hampshire League Division 2, Fair Oak II produced one of their best bowling performances of the season, but struggled again with the bat and went down to a 15-run defeat. On a pitch of low and uneven bounce, the Oaks attack soon got stuck into their task. Opening bowlers Ross Stewart and Joeh Turner took three wickets each, for 22 and 18 respectively, while the up-and-coming Wilf Voaden also impressed with 3 for 15. Longparish were bowled out for 111, Zac Allen top scoring with 24.

After the break Oaks opener Dan Wheble hit 21, but the next five in the order could only muster five runs between them. Stewart, probably Oaks’ best player on the day, then carved out an intrepid 26. But he got little support, other than from watchful youngster Voaden, as the visitors attempted to rebuild the innings. ‘Parish bowlers Ollie Oram took three wickets, Ed Perceval, Allen and Jordan Blackmore two each as Fair Oak succumbed for just 96. Top scorer for the visitors was extras – 30 of them!

It’s been tough going for Fair Oak III in Hampshire Division 4 South, so Saturday’s maximum-points win over Portsmouth III was a welcome shot in the arm for Keir Smith’s men. Portsmouth recovered from 96 for 7 to 197 all out thanks to 39 from Ed Thompson and 21 not out from Jordan Howard. It was a good day for the spinners with Callum Lord taking 3 for 33 and Tom Turner 2 for 11, while skipper Smith bagged a brace himself, for 18.

Shaun Buttle (33) and Adam Trigwell (42) gave a solid start to Oaks’ reply. Charlie White (26) and Sam Pullen (39 no) built on that, and Fair Oak reached a winning 200 for 6 with six overs to spare. Oaks hauled themselves off the bottom of the table as a result. Thompson (3 for 41) was Portsmouth’s most effective bowler.