Derby glory is crucial for Portchester

Paul Hungerford. Picture: Mick Young
Paul Hungerford. Picture: Mick Young
James Vince. Picture: Sarah Standing (170455-8793)

Vince relishing ‘second chance’

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Portchester have two of their big guns back for their crucial final day Hampshire League division one derby against Purbrook.

But they will be without skipper Paul Hungerford, who has been ruled out following a freak cycling accident.

Blake Barnwell and Lee Hungerford return for the must-win clash at Cams Hill.

Portchester are desperate to avoid relegation to the second tier of the county competition.

But the hosts must win and hope other results go for them if they are to avoid dropping into division two.

Paul Hungerford said: ‘I was involved in a collision cycling home from work on the A27 bike path.

‘It was a head on crash with another cyclist on a blind bend and I ended up at the hospital.

‘I was knocked out, concussed and sprained my arm.

‘The advice is for me not to play cricket again this season which is a huge blow.

‘It is annoying I am going to miss out on the big game.’

This is the latest of a catalogue of disasters suffered by Portchester since the start of the season.

It didn’t begin well when their overseas player, Andrew Webb, was turned back to Australia from Heathrow Airport.

He failed to produce the necessary paperwork for his latest stint.

Webb hoped he could sort the problem out and return later in the summer but that didn’t happen.

Despite this, Portchester made a reasonable start to the campaign.

At one point they had risen as high as seventh position in the division one table.

For the last two and a half months, though, the club have been badly hit by unavailability of key players. They have been in freefall down the division, winning just one of their last eight games.

‘Ever since the summer holiday period started we have suffered badly,’ said the captain.

The lack of numbers has been felt mainly in Portchester’s batting, which has proved frail in the extreme over the second half of the season.

In three of their past four games, the Cams Hill side have failed to register three figures.

And Paul Hungerford accepts that is nowhere near good enough in the bid to retain their top-flight status.

‘You will not win many games scoring less than 100 runs,’ said the captain.

‘We have just not scored enough runs.

‘It is up to us to make one big final effort to get the win that will at least give us a chance.’

The skipper’s biggest enemy could turn out to be the weather.

Torrential downpours during the week have put the weekend’s matches in doubt.

And Paul Hungerford knows if Portchester fail to get the game on the consequences will be dire.

‘We need to get this game played,’ he said.

‘If it is off then we go down, it is as simple as that.

‘We have had a lot of rain early in the week.

‘But it is expected to improve today and over the weekend.

‘If we can, we still want to be playing our cricket in Hampshire League division one next season.’