CALMORE Sports will carry the Hampshire banner into the national rounds of the Voneus Village Cup after beating Sparsholt by four wickets in a county final which took several twists and turns before being decided three balls into the last over.

Sparsholt defended their Josh May inspired 201-7 gallantly, but after celebrating two early breakthroughs were undone by a 141-run partnership between Shaun Johnson and Will Brewster which took Calmore to within sight of victory.

Even so, there wasn’t much time left in the end, writes Mike Vimpany.

It was ironic yet perhaps appropriate that the two Theakston’s Players of the Rounds in the previous matches – Sparsholt’s Josh May and Shawn Johnson, the Calmore all-rounder, pictured - should play dominant roles in the final.

May’s 92 underpinned the Sparsholt innings.

It oozed class, his firm top hand grip and straight left elbow ensured control and, while only 22 of his runs came in boundaries, he dictated the terms from the middle and had he not been unluckily run out eight short of a richly deserved hundred, Sparsholt might well have posted a total beyond Calmore’s reach.

May’s exit at 179-7 gave Dave Banks the platform to hit 33 and carry Sparsholt to a competitive score.

Sparsholt struck twice at the top of the Calmore reply – Ben Johns adjudged leg before and teenager Tom Ley rearranging Matty Taylor’s stumps to leave the hosts 8-2.

It could have been a whole lot worse. With his score at 14, Johnson – hero of the thrilling round two derby victory over Paultons – drilled a shot to deep mid-off.

The catch ought to have been taken. It wasn’t – and Sparsholt paid the penalty.

With Hampshire media guru Brewster alongside, Johnston proceeded to boss the show, hitting two big sixes and nine fours.

Brewster was more sedate, but played his support role perfectly.

The pair brought up their respective fifties, with Johnson on 77 and Brewster 61 when, in the 25th over, the game took a dramatic twist with both batsmen dismissed off consecutive deliveries.

Ley had a hand in both, literally.

Firstly, he ran out Brewster and, after the batsmen had crossed, the Peter Symonds College student took a brilliant leg-side catch to send the former Bexhill all-rounder on his way.

Calmore now 149-4, but still with 14 overs left to get the 53 runs they required.

Chasing targets is seldom straightforward and Sparsholt didn’t make it easy for them.

James Manning (18) kept the scoreboard ticking alongside Max Bailey, who kept his cool, with his timely 26 getting Calmore to within two runs of the finish line and a place in the last 32.