Dunstan calls for show of strength

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Portsmouth & Southsea can crank up the pressure at the top of Hampshire League division one by beating promotion rivals Ropley at St James’ Hospital tomorrow.

It is a crucial game for both teams – with the visitors lurking one place below their third-placed hosts.

Kieron Dunstan accepts his team will need to raise their game against another top side.

So far this season Portsmouth & Southsea have failed to beat any of the other teams in the top five, having lost to Longparish and Lymington.

Dunstan knows they cannot afford many more slip-ups against their rivals in the race for promotion.

‘We have to start beating the teams around us and Ropley are one of the better sides in our league,’ said the skipper.

‘A win will help us maintain the pressure on the two sides above us.

‘I believe we are the strongest team in the league and it is up to us to go out and prove it.

‘We have to make sure we have learnt the lessons from what happened at Longparish when we didn’t get out of second gear.

‘On that day we failed to turn up, a little bit of complacency set in and we ended up paying the price.

‘I am sure we won’t let that happen again.

‘Losing at Lymington on the final ball was different because that could have gone either way.’

Dunstan’s team bounced back from their Lymington disappointment in fine fashion.

A terrific all-round team performance culminated in a 150-run success against Shrewton.

Powerful batting saw them post more than 300 – a target their opponents never threatened.

There were a number of outstanding individual performances, including a maiden home league century from Matt Benfield (113).

In partnership with his brother Tom Benfield (46), he smashed 118 runs in only 21 overs.

Earlier the centurion and opener Jack Davies (47) had laid the foundations with a quick-fire 93 stand for the second wicket.

Davies has been a key figure this term – consistently giving his team a solid start.

‘Jack has only had one low score all season and been our most consistent batsman,’ added Dunstan.

‘Anything outside off-stump invariably gets despatched to the boundary.

‘Few people play the cut shot as well as he does.

‘He possesses that little bit of arrogance openers need and will back himself in any situation.

‘That takes the pressure off our middle order.

‘His performances have allowed the likes of the two Benfields, Ollie Kanavan, Jake Peach and Sean Briggs to bat with greater freedom.

Apart from their batting strengths, the side are able to back that up with a varied and potent bowling attack.

With three spinners and four seam bowlers, Dunstan backs them to adapt to most situations.

Portsmouth & Southsea: Davies J, Clements, Benfield M, Benfield T, Briggs, Kanavan, Peach, Farnworth, Saunders, Willey, Dunstan