Tiller: Emphatic victory is a must

Dave Tiller in action. Picture: Keith Woodland

Dave Tiller in action. Picture: Keith Woodland

Hambledon's George Harding batting against St Cross. Picture Ian Hargreaves (170744-1)

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Portsmouth & Southsea captain Dave Tiller admits his side are in deep trouble ahead of their crucial Southern Electric Premier League division three relegation tussle at Trojans.

It is a must-win game for the visitors if they are to retain any survival hopes going into the final weekend.

Tiller accepts his team have to get the victory – and do it in style – if they are to maintain any realistic chance of staying up.

‘Trojans are so far ahead that we have to get maximum points and limit them to as few as possible,’ said Tiller.

‘Even then it might not be enough. It is a huge two weeks.

‘We have got nothing to lose, though, and can go out and give it our best shot.

‘It is our own fault because we have got ourselves into this situation by not winning enough games.

‘It is difficult to see how we are going to get out of it.

‘This weekend is typical with four or five players pulling out ahead of our biggest game for years.’

It has been a difficult summer for the newly-promoted club who have failed to come to terms with the demands of Southern Electric Premier League cricket.

Last season’s star batsman Ash Wallace moved on and a number of other players left the club.

To compound those difficulties, the club have also suffered from poor availability and lack of consistency.

Tiller himself offered to stand down as captain before the start of the season because he knew he would miss up to six games.

Other key players have missed three or four games apiece, making life difficult for the men who have featured regularly.

‘I know if I could field my strongest team each week we wouldn’t be anywhere near the bottom of the league,’ said Tiller.

‘I don’t think this league is that strong.

‘As a club, though, we need a stronger base if we are to play at this level and we have suffered from our lack of strength in depth.

‘We have had to play some 15 and 16-year-olds who are very talented cricketers but have lacked experience.’

One player who has done his best to hold it all together is Matt Benfield who has proved a huge positive for the club.

The 19-year-old has hit nearly 500 runs and taken a good haul of wickets.

In Tiller’s absence, Benfield has captained the side and not allowed the responsibility to affect his own performances.

If Portsmouth & Southsea return to the Hampshire League they may find it difficult to keep hold of the young all-rounder and some of their other talents.

That includes 15-year-old Ollie Perrin who is involved in the Hampshire youth system.

‘Matt Benfield should be looking to play in the gold league in the future and Ollie Perrin will be looking to play at Southern League level,’ said Tiller.

‘As a club we should be worried about keeping hold of them.

‘If we cannot field a settled side then we will struggle in whatever league we play in.’

Portsmouth & Southsea: Mike Patey, Jack Davies, Matt Benfield, Alex Fletcher, Aiden Green, Ollie Perrin, Dave Tiller, Dave Chisholm, Tom Benfield, Kieron Dunston

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