Key clash in Havant’s quest for double double

Chris Stone. Picture Ian Hargreaves (160975-1)
Chris Stone. Picture Ian Hargreaves (160975-1)
Stuart Ransley stepped it up against South Wilts. Picture: Neil Marshall

Havant confident league crown will be secured

Portsmouth boss Rich Locke. Picture: Keith Woodland

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It is time to fasten the seat belts and hold on to the hats at Havant as they host Southern League premier division leaders South Wilts at Havant Park tomorrow (12.30pm).

With two league games remaining, a win will see the hosts leapfrog their visitors to the top of the table.

Havant, though, will still have to face a titanic final game of the season at third-placed Lymington.

A win will also keep Ben Walker’s side on course to complete a remarkable league and knockout double for the second successive season.

Havant thrashed South Wilts in the Twenty20 Cup semi-finals last weekend and will meet Alton or Hook & Newnham Basics in the final at the Ageas Bowl.

Whatever happens it promises to be a thrilling finale to the season for the club.

Walker accepts it would be a monumental effort if his side do manage to pull off back-to-back doubles.

‘We have got ourselves back in with a chance,’ said the skipper.

‘This is a big game and one which I think could settle matters at the top.

‘Whoever wins will start the final day at the top and that will give them a big advantage.

‘It should be a fantastic game of cricket between two very good sides.

‘South Wilts have already beaten us comprehensively earlier this season.

‘The two sides have played a lot of cricket against each other and there is a great mutual respect between us.

‘We know out on the pitch it will be tough but played in the right spirit.

‘Whatever the result afterwards you can expect both sets of players will be sat out on the boundary ropes having a beer together.’

After a difficult start to the summer, Havant have gradually re-established themselves as title challengers.

Slowly but surely the team has picked up momentum and in recent weeks have been playing some outstanding cricket.

Walker puts their success down to a close-knit team spirit at the club.

His side contains a lot of experience, with the likes of Richard Hindley, Jez Bulled and Chris Morgan.

Though renowned for their potent spin attack, Havant’s seamers have also made a big contribution.

Cameron Prentice, Rich Jerry and Andy Gorvin have all bowled well up front.

In the past few weeks, Chris Stone has been in outstanding form with the bat, while Stuart Ransley has also hit his maiden top flight century.

‘It has genuinely been a real team effort,’ said Walker, whose own form has been fantastic.

‘And if we do manage to get ourselves over the finishing line, it will be a great achievement. We won’t have done it the easy way!’

Havant make one change as Gorvin returns after a week away.

Havant: Walker, Gorvin, Ransley, Morgan, Hindley, Bulled, Prentice, Jerry, Matthews, Stone, Gibson