Dunstan: Now or never for Portsmouth & Southsea

Portsmouth & Southsea bowler Chris Turrell    Picture: Allan Hutchings

Portsmouth & Southsea bowler Chris Turrell Picture: Allan Hutchings

Josh Hill. Picture: Paul Jacobs (150507-4)

Athletic keep their cool to boost survival bid

Purbrook skipper Martin Lee             Picture: Mick Young

Purbrook out to avoid banana skin

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Keiron Dunstan knows it is ‘now or never’ in the Hampshire League division one promotion stakes as Portsmouth & Southsea visit league-leaders Alton II.

A win will keep the third-placed visitors in the hunt for honours with just two more games to follow.

On the other hand, a defeat is likely to leave them too much to do in their bid to catch-up local promotion rivals Purbrook, who sit in second spot.

It is a pressure game but Dunstan is backing his players to handle the situation.

‘This is a game we are really looking forward to,’ he said.

‘It is our biggest challenge yet but we have been in good form in recent weeks.

‘Over the years we have a good record against Alton so they must be regarding us as a bit of a threat.

‘They also suffered a surprise first defeat of the season at Ventnor in their last game.

‘And that can either go one of two ways.

‘It might have dented their confidence or it may just make them even more determined to bounce back.

‘All we have to do is focus on our performances at the business end of the season.

‘I have every confidence in my team and we are going there to win the game.’

Dunstan is boosted by the return of strike bowler Chris Turrell to the ranks after missing the last game.

Turrell may not be the quickest bowler in the side but is certainly the most accurate.

The Royal Navy bandsman has the knack of hitting a consistent line and length, making it difficult for batsmen to get him away.

With the ability of fellow opening bowler Matt Benfield to swing the ball they form a very potent partnership at this level.

Backing them up they have the highly effective slow left-arm bowling of Jonno Willey and the spin option of Dunstan and Ben Saunders.

It is an attack that has the potential to make life very difficult for the home batsmen.

The return of Turrell is the only change from the side that thumped struggling Totton & Eling in their last game.

In that game, Portsmouth & Southsea rattled up over 400 runs with the impressive Jack Davies crashing 156 runs off 100 balls.

If he can maintain that form he could set the home side real problems this weekend.

Opening pair Matt Smith and Steve Clements also put on 140 runs for the first wicket and have been solid all season.

‘It is still a three-horse race for promotion and if we can win well at Alton it will put us in a great position,’ said Dunstan.

‘Our aim at the start of the season was to get promoted and we are in with a good chance with just three games to go.

‘We don’t want to throw it away now.’

Portsmouth & Southsea: Matt Smith, Steve Clements, Jack Davies, Matt Benfield, Tom Benfield, Saheed Shahid, Ben Saunders, Matt Williams, Chris Turrell, Jonno Willey, Keiron Dunstan

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