Simon Creal is under no illusions as his Gosport Borough side begin life back in Hampshire League division one.
The Privett Park skipper leads his side into an awkward opener against last season’s third-placed outfit Waterlooville at Rowlands Avenue tomorrow.
Borough were relegated from the Southern Electric Premier League at the end of last season and Creal is expecting their new environment to be just as competitive.
Division one is packed with local sides, including Portsmouth & Southsea, Locks Heath, Portchester, Purbrook and Bedhampton as well as Waterlooville, which guarantees a host of keenly-contested derbies this summer.
‘There will be no easy games,’ said Creal.
‘We are all there to be shot at and we realise that just because we have come down from a higher level it doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park.
‘There are a lot of good sides in this league and a few of them have been knocking on the door of senior cricket in the past few years.
‘We have to make sure we don’t slip down any further and are aiming to be a top-six side.
‘If we can get off to a good start then I think we can be there or thereabouts.’
Borough will give a league debut to Aussie all-rounder Leeland Zella and are also pleased to have strike bowler Conor Regan back on board.
Regan had a spell away from the game last summer but has decided to return to join the experienced figure of Ritchie Edwards in the bowling attack.
Borough are packed with experience, with the likes of Mark Oxford, Creal, Mike Rees and Edwards, and are hoping to get the blend right with the club’s promising youngsters.
‘Experience can be important to get you through the tight games,’ said Creal.
Waterlooville are traditionally slow starters but vice-captain John Hudson revealed they are determined to put that right this summer.
‘Our poor start cost us promotion last season and that was disappointing,’ he said.
‘We haven’t lost any players from last season and the aim is once again to get promotion.
‘It is a hard league to get out of, though, and with two more local sides coming down, all the derbies will only make it tougher.
‘We haven’t played Gosport for a few years so don’t know what to expect, but we’ll give them 100-per-cent respect.’
Ville are without last year’s leading wicket-taker, 50-year-old Martin Shepherd who is unavailable, but son Alex Shepherd is raring to go.
The youngster scored nearly 600 runs last season, and along with skipper Chris Baumann, is an influential figure in Ville’s ambitions.
WATERLOOVILLE: Chris Baumann, Alex Shepherd, Matthew Charman, John Hudson, Max Goddard, Andy Reynolds, John Burnett, Namish Verma, Nathan White, Dom Jones, Lloyd Williams.
GOSPORT BOROUGH: Ritchie Edwards, Mark Oxford, Simon Creal, Ashley Cleaver, Mike Rees, Craig Stares, Ollie Adams, Tommy Larner, Conor Regan, Lee Harrop, Leeland Zela.