SOUTHAMPTON AC's men clinched a nail-biting victory in the last Southern Counties Veterans' Track & Field League (Hampshire Division) to claim their place in the regional final.

They were pushed all the way by their Aldershot hosts and came within a whisker of losing their long unbeaten run, stretching back to 2013, before triumphing by a single point.

The 2km walk got track proceedings underway with M50 John MacInnes (12.59.3) dropping down to the M35 category and walking his way to six points. M50 Wayne Vincent (12.19.8) also scored well in fourth.

M35s Mark Collins (24.5) and Simon Ciaravella (26.4) scored an A/B second-place double in the 200m, with the experienced Jon Tilt bagging maximum points in the M50 200m/800m (25.8/2.17.7).

Jez Curtis and Jim Bennett each claimed M35 third in the A/B 800m (2.15.0/2.17.4), while M60 Ed Connolly ran well as runner-up in 2.36.2.

Such is the depth of the middle distance Southampton squad at present that the 3000m saw a host of red and white vests and personal bests.

M35s Aaron Froukhians (9.31.4) and Mark Causebrook (9.37.3) finished third and first respectively - the former smashing his personal best (pb) by a whopping 13 seconds.

Jon Grainger won the M50 category with his usual late run to the line, while Sid DeLara finished fourth M60.

Guest runners included Andy Lewis (9.50.5 pb), Jon Hannan (10.12.5 pb), Andy Morgan-Lee (10.21.9), Mark Hayter (10.30.0) and Paul Johnson (10.48.8 pb).

In the field M35 Graham Lay (32.59m) and M50 Steve Dobson (25.59m) threw well for second and fourth in the discus, with Andrew Sheerin finishing third with 31.22 as a guest athlete.

Darren Clissold scored good points for second in the M35 pole vault (2.60) and triple jump third (10.30).

New signing Brian Thompson, competing after many years away from the sport, finished fourth in the triple jump with 10.26.

With only a handful of events remaining, Southampton had a 14-point cushion over hosts Aldershot, Farnham & District but, with no athlete in either of the M50 Pole vault or triple jump due to late injury withdrawals, their lead diminished rapidly.

Both Lay and Dobson again scored good points with javelin second and fourth (37.53/26.99) and M60 Mike Smears (13.30, pb) scored three more points than he expected to keep the south coast club just ahead on points.

The final event saw Aldershot triumph in the 4x200m relay but, with Curtis replacing the injured Ciaravella at short notice and Bennett, Tilt and Collins, Southampton battled their way to third place.

They will now compete in the Southern Counties Veterans’ Regional Final at Ashford, Kent in September to defend their title from last year.

Match result: Southampton 134, Aldershot 133, Winchester 115, Havant 101, Portsmouth 97.5, Basingstoke 93.5, Overton 59, Fleet 57.