P&S set to unleash Louth in Services derby

Conrad Louth. Picture: Tim Wilson

There are more than just bragging rights at stake as United Services welcome Portsmouth & Southsea to Burnaby Road in the Hampshire League division one.

Both teams are desperate to come out on top – for totally different reasons.

Services are yet to taste victory this summer and know another defeat could send them into the bottom two.

Portsmouth & Southsea, meanwhile, have their sights set on promotion.

But the visitors need to bounce back following their first loss of the season against Longparish last weekend.

All-rounder Matt Benfield admits it was the nature of the defeat that hurt his side the most.

‘We were totally outplayed and it was a week to forget,’ he said.

‘None of us stood up in the field, with the ball or with the bat.

‘Going into the game we were unbeaten and on cloud nine, so it came as a bit of a reality check.

‘Possibly a bit of complacency crept in, although, the opposition openers did bat extremely well.

‘We just didn’t know how to react to that because up until now we have had things mostly our own way.

‘It didn’t help that we dropped one of them early in his innings.

‘Also it was one of those days when things didn’t run for us and the ball didn’t go to hand.

‘We would take our second slip out and the next ball would fly through that area.’

Benfield is expecting a big reaction from the team as they look to get their promotion ambitions back on track.

They are boosted by the inclusion of former Northamptonshire second XI and Minor Counties batsman Conrad Louth.

Louth has moved into the area for work and has been training with the club, while also playing midweek fixtures.

The 28-year-old has featured on 42 occasions for Lincolnshire since his debut in 2008.

He has excelled over the past few seasons, notching 10 half centuries and three tons in Minor Counties Championship and trophy fixtures.

Last term he struck a career-best 125 against Suffolk and followed it up with an unbeaten 112 against Staffordshire.

With a few free weekends available, he can make an important impact.

‘Having him about gives us all a big buzz,’ said Benfield.

The visitors are also strengthened in the bowling department, with the return of 19-year-old off-spinner Ben Saunders.

They also hope to have Jake Peach back to full fitness after hamstring problems and Benfield could also be back in action.

‘I will try out my rib injury on the morning before the game,’ he added.

‘We are going into this game hungry to win but we know Services have some dangerous players in their ranks.

‘The defeat has brought us all back down to earth and shown us that maybe we are not as good as we thought we were.

‘Morale is still good, though, and we are in good spirits.’

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