Gosport Borough are aiming to put a dent in Waterlooville’s title challenge as they go head-to-head in a crunch Hampshire League division one clash at Privett Park.
Leaders Waterlooville are unbeaten this season and returned to the top of the table last weekend after victory over Hook & Newnham Basics.
Fifth-placed Borough, after an indifferent start, have picked up their game and won on their past five outings.
Captain Lee Harrop thinks it will be interesting to see how Waterlooville handle the pressure with the race for the title hotting up.
‘All the pressure is on Waterlooville because we are safe and have nothing to play for,’ said Harrop.
‘That means we can relax and go out there to just enjoy our cricket.
‘We have been in Ville’s position before when you need to win games to go up and know just how tough that can be.
‘They are a very good side with some outstanding individual players but we believe we are a good side, too.
‘Back in June we were struggling a bit after being relegated last season.
‘But a couple more wins helped us turn the corner and we are now a different team mentally.
‘It should be a cracking encounter.’
Ville are hoping to finally rid themselves of their nearly-men tag of recent seasons when they have missed out after getting into good positions.
They have carried all before them this summer but know they face a real test of nerve in the final three weeks of the season.
If they can come through this derby fixture unscathed, they will take a big step towards securing promotion back into the Southern Electric League.
Even so, they still have to finish with two more derbies against Fareham & Crofton and Locks Heath.
It is a demanding end-of-season schedule that will tax them to the full.
Ville captain Jon Hudson admits he doesn’t even contemplate the prospect of losing their last three games and missing out again.
‘With so much pressure on, there is little chance of us losing our focus,’ said Hudson.
‘Gosport will be tricky because they have plenty of experience in their side.
‘We will have to show them the right amount of respect and maintain the standards we have set ourselves.
‘I am not even thinking of not going up at the end of the season because that would be a disaster.’
South African opening batsman Byron Haycock has already scored over a thousand runs this summer and strike bowler Sam Hillman has claimed 31 wickets.
John Burnett has also taken 20 wickets.
But Hudson is quick to point out they are top of the league because of a whole team effort.
‘Everyone in the team has stepped up at some stage and made a vital contribution,’ said Hudson.
Gosport Borough: Lee Harrop, Michael Jenkins, Simon Creal, Craig Stares, Jamie Presswell, Andrew Tiddy, Tom Larner,
Greg Kitchin, Andrew Blomerus, Richard Edwards,
Waterlooville: Byron Haycock, Matt Charman, Alex Lamont, Alex Shephard, Dave Howe, Max Goddard, Jon Hudson,
Andrew Reynolds, Sam Hillman, John Burnett, Nathan White