Havant cling on to shred of title hope

Cam Prentice & Co were unable to fire Havant to a key victory
Cam Prentice & Co were unable to fire Havant to a key victory
Jonny Bairstow, right, thanks skipper Eoin Morgan. Picture: Neil Marshall

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Pete Hopson refused to concede defeat in Havant’s quest for the Southern Electric premier division title, despite their humbling at South Wilts.

The game was billed as a title-decider and Havant wicketkeeper, Jez Bulled, suggested before the game that there was no way back if they lost it.

But the club’s player-coach has a different opinion and has not written off all hopes on a day when South Wilts were by far the better side.

It leaves the Salisbury-based outfit with clear water between themselves and Havant as they close in on a fourth straight crown.

And it’s hard to see any sort of late stumble from a club which is so used to winning the title.

Although Havant are their nearest rivals, the South Wilts superiority was obvious as Tom Morton (164) and James Hayward (141) shared a remarkable 300-run partnership – a premier division record.

Chasing South Wilts’ 321 for four, Havant were then bowled out for 184 to effectively end the title race for another season.

Hopson, however, was left hoping for some unexpected favours from the rest of the division as Havant cling on to their outside hopes.

He said: ‘It’s not all over yet. We’ll try to keep playing the best cricket we can.

‘We’ve both got to play Bashley yet and they are capable of turning anyone over at any time.

‘It’s a big dent for us. But as a bunch of cricketers, we’ve got to put the defeat aside and play the best cricket we can.’

Havant knew they would be up against it before a ball was bowled with Ben Walker, Chris Stone, Chris Morgan and Brad Wheal all unavailable for selection, which put a huge hole in their attack.

But they actually made a brilliant start to the contest with the home side reduced to six for two with Andy Gorvin (three for 55) making early inroads.

Gorvin had Eddie Abel (nought) caught at slip off the first ball of the day and in his next over had Jack Mynott impressively stumped down the leg-side by Bulled.

But Morton and Hayward then took the game away with an outstanding effort before Cam Prentice eventually dismissed the South Wilts skipper and Gorvin claimed his third scalp.

Hopson (26) and Rob Gibson (26) made a bright start to the Havant reply as they put on 52 for the first wicket.

But aside from Gorvin (32) and Stuart Ransley (22), Havant fell away from 141 for four to 184 all out.

Hopson said: ‘We were significantly under strength so that doesn’t help and South Wilts were near enough at full strength.

‘But all credit to Tom Morton and James Hayward for the way they played.

‘They had a tricky start and they controlled it with power after lunch.’