Sarisbury aim to climb above leaders Andover

Basil Akram. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Basil Akram. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Kyle Abbott celebrates a wicket today against champions Essex. Picture: Neil Marshall

Abbott puts champions to the sword

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SARISBURY ATHLETIC face a make-or-break contest against Southern League division one league-leaders Andover at Allotment Road.

Second-placed Sarisbury accept their title and promotion ambitions are on the line with just one team going up at the end of the season.

Matt Journeaux’s men trail Andover by 25 points and realistically cannot afford to let the visitors extend their lead.

Both teams have proved vulnerable this season, losing four and three games respectively, so it remains a difficult one to call.

Sarisbury ended a run of two consecutive defeats with a five-wicket win over OT’s & Romsey.

They followed that up by beating Liphook & Ripsley in the quarter-finals of the T20 knock-out the next day.

Journeaux is looking for his team to build on that momentum but knows they face a difficult test.

Andover have chalked up six successive wins and will arrive full of confidence.

They seem to have put any mixed form behind them.

But Sarisbury will be confident as the teams do battle at the business end of the season.

‘This is another big game for us and hopefully we can win it and go back to the top,’ said Journeaux.

‘Our league is so tight and anybody can beat anyone on the day.

‘We beat Andover at their place earlier in the season, chasing down 210 runs to win the game.

‘It is a winnable match but we will have to be at our best.

‘Winning the two games last weekend couldn’t have happened at a better time for us.

‘If we are to beat Andover we have to make sure we do the basics right.’

Opening bat Basil Akram showed again against OT’s that he can be an important match winner for Sarisbury as hit 91 runs.

On a difficult wicket he applied himself and helped put his team in the driving seat chasing 205 for seven.

If Akram stays around for 20 overs or so then Sarisbury know they are likely to get into a good position.

Journeaux is looking for some of his middle order batsmen to follow Sam Floyd’s example.

After Akram was dismissed Floyd fired 49 not out to steady the ship at a time when Sarisbury could have collapsed.

‘When Sam went in scoreboard pressure could easily have started to build,’ said Journeaux.

‘Instead he and Chris Sanders batted steadily and ran well between the wickets to keep us up with the rate,’ said Journeaux.

‘I want us to continue building the momentum.

‘To do that against Andover we have to make sure we bat the overs and stay in the game.

‘We know we are capable of beating any team in our league.

‘At the same time we can also lose to any team and it all depends which Sarisbury team turns up.

‘We need it to be the right one this weekend.

‘I want to see us going into the business end of the season with all to play for.’

Sarisbury Athletic: Matt Journeaux, Ricky Rawlins, Basil Akram, Harry Hovey, Jack Lovett, Sam Floyd, Chris Sanders, Shayne Freemantle, Jason Almark, Tom Kitcher, Phil Jewell