Survival Saturday in Southern League showdowns

Portsmouth skipper James Moon

Portsmouth skipper James Moon

James Vince will no longer captain Hampshire for County Championship matches.  Picture: Sarah Standing

Hampshire announce joint captaincy for 2017 season

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Portsmouth’s Southern Electric Premier League division two status hangs in the balance ahead of the final weekend of the season.

After last week’s nail-biting one-run loss to Burridge, the two clubs are still locked in the battle to stay up, with just three points separating the teams.

Burridge’s Greg Thew bowled Jed Whitecross off the final ball of a pulsating clash with Portsmouth needing two runs to win.

That delivery has taken an enthralling tussle down to the wire as Burridge chalked up a fifth win in seven attempts in a miraculous run chase.

The St Helen’s outfit host Rowledge, while Burridge travel to New Milton, with both clubs knowing that one of them is going down to division three.

While there is no split-screen coverage for spectators or the players to know what’s going on, both scorers have swapped mobile numbers to keep the teams abreast of developments on Southern Electric Survival Saturday.

Portsmouth skipper, James Moon, said: ‘We know that it’s a must-win game and we have to get three more points than Burridge.

‘It’s not in our own hands any more but we haven’t given up hope.

‘It probably means that we will have to bat first to get as many points as we can or chase them down without losing wickets.

‘It’s not just about winning but we have to get as many points as possible as well so I have to think about that.

‘It was gutting to lose on the final ball last week. I got out and we needed 60 off 18 overs with seven wickets left and I thought we were going to cruise it.

‘But there was some stupid batting and it cost us dearly in the end.’

There is another potential twist developing with the threat of the weather playing a part in proceedings.

Portsmouth benefited from a rained-off final game last season after a problem with their covers saw them promoted with Hambledon without a ball being bowled.

Conspiracy theorists suggested that Portsmouth were perfectly happy not to play the game, knowing both clubs would be promoted in the event of an abandonment.

But after an investigation by the league, the club were found to have no case to answer and were duly promoted.

After the weather played a helping hand last season, Moon is keeping a careful eye on the skies in case he tastes the flip side this year.

Moon said: ‘The covers are perfect this year. A rained-off game would be no good to anyone and we’re desperate to play.’

Elsewhere in division two, champions Ventnor visit Hook & Newnham, while Hambledon entertain Paultons.

A fierce battle for promotion continues in division three, with Sarisbury Athletic still in the hunt going into the final round of fixtures.

Currently in third, Pete Hammond’s side are just four points behind second-placed OTs & Romsey and effectively just five points behind leaders Tichborne Park.

A win at Totton & Eling II could yet be enough to take them into division two next year, while neighbours United Services could do them a favour as they host Tichborne Park.

OTs & Romsey travel to Fair Oak in another tough fixture.

Fareham & Crofton face their own relegation decider at home to St Cross II but Bob Marchant’s side know that if they win, they will stay in the division.

Havant II travel to Liphook & Ripsley, while premier division champions Havant round off their double-winning campaign with a home clash against Alton.

n Don’t miss Monday’s News for all the reaction and reports to the final day of the local cricket season.

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