United Services skipper keeps the faith

Josh Colligham. Picture: Mick Young (141555-04)
Josh Colligham. Picture: Mick Young (141555-04)
Tom Alsop. Picture: Neil Marshall

Alsop: Best is yet to come from Hampshire

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United Services captain Matt Easton remains defiant ahead of his team’s Hampshire League division one derby at Purbrook tomorrow.

After winning their opening three games of the campaign, Services have suffered a drought.

This has seen them plummet into the relegation zone with just six games remaining.

Easton knew it was going to be a difficult summer after his side slipped out of Southern Electric Premier League cricket at the end of last season.

A number of established players left the club as a result, leaving the skipper with the task of rebuilding.

‘This season was always going to be about consolidation,’ he said.

‘I am convinced we can stay up but we have to start winning.

‘We have the quality in our squad to do it and it is a case of having to string together some good all-round team performances.

‘Purbrook will be tough because they are going well but we have more must-win games coming up.’

Though heavily beaten by league leaders Shrewton in their last game, Easton saw a number of positives which he believes can be built upon.

Their batting fell woefully short last time out as they were shot out for just 90.

But their bowlers made life difficult for title favourites Shrewton in the run-chase.

Veteran Fraser Quirke and young left-arm seamer Josh Colligham gave the visiting batsmen plenty to think about.

‘Purbrook scored over 300 runs in their last game, so our bowlers will have to be at it again,’ said Easton.

‘We can’t afford to let Purbrook score 300-plus again.

‘It is up to us to go out and leave everything out on the pitch and see where it gets us.’

In contrast, Purbrook are in good form coming into the game on the back of a thumping win over Locks Heath.

Aussie opener Jacob Wilson (188) and number three batsman James Holder (109) put on a magnificent 264-run second-wicket partnership in the triumph.

If they continue in the same vein tomorrow it could prove a long day for Services.

Home captain Martin Lee believes one more win will guarantee the Purbrook Heath outfit’s division one status for another year.

‘If we win this one then that will make us safe and we can relax in the final weeks,’ said the skipper.

‘We have still got games against most of the teams above us and it would be nice to go into them in a relaxed manner.

‘With no pressure on us, we could take a few big scalps.’

Purbrook make two changes with Matt McGlinchey and Jim Gurney coming in to replace Joe Hampson and Clarke Harding.

‘United Services are having a poor time of it lately but we musn’t be complacent,’ said Lee.