Faltering Fareham look to prevent Portsmouth

Portsmouth & Southsea skipper Keiron Dunstan    Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Portsmouth & Southsea skipper Keiron Dunstan Picture: Ian Hargreaves
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Fareham & Crofton are looking to avoid a third successive Hampshire League division one defeat as they host Portsmouth & Southsea at Bath Lane.

In contrast, the visitors are determined to continue their excellent start to the season with a third straight win.

The home side have been hampered by the absence of captain Luke Gould, who damaged his shoulder playing hockey earlier in the year.

In their opening game, fragile batting let them down as they were bowled out for a measly 128-run total.

That was never going to be enough to defend, although Benedict White (three for 33) and Matt Gould (two for nine) led the resistance.

In the end, the home side fell to a three-wicket defeat.

It was a very young side that travelled to Ventnor II in the last game, where they fell 16 runs short chasing a target of 248 for eight.

If Fareham & Crofton are to avoid a relegation battle, they will need to turn the corner sooner rather than later.

That won’t be easy against a Portsmouth & Southsea side playing with confidence, having two good wins already under their belt.

Their captain Keiron Dunstan is confident his team can maintain their winning start.

‘So far we have not had to get out of third gear in either of our games,’ he said.

‘All the lads are feeling very confident and are up for keeping our winning run going.

‘We have got the start we wanted and now it is important that we build on it.

‘Our win over Burridge was pretty comfortable and I am certain that there is plenty more to come.’

Dunston has to do without regular opener and wicketkeeper Matt Smith who shared in an excellent partnership with veteran Steve Clements in the last game.

In Smith’s absence, Tom Benfield will take over the gloves.

Jonathan Willey is also unavailable due to a charity cycling trip around Europe, with Jake Peach drafted in for his first start of the summer.

Dunston believes if evergreen Clements can maintain his good form, his side have every chance of producing another win.

‘Steve is the elderly statesman in our team at 50 years of age,’ said Dunstan.

‘He has been there, done it all and has the t-shirt.

‘As a batsman he is one of those who rarely gives his wicket away.

‘He has been with the club for a long time and has a fantastic record.

‘Sometimes he isn’t the quickest of scorers but he has the knack of hanging around to get his runs.’

In the opening eight-wicket victory over Ventnor II, Dunstan led by example with a devastating spell of bowling to send the visitors crashing.

Dunstan took five wickets for six runs in just over four overs.

The skipper will now hope a similar vein of form can complete a hat-trick of early-season victories.

Portsmouth & Southsea: Steve Clements, Jack Davies, Matt Benfield, Tom Benfield, Rob Evans, Dan Fry-Sperring, Jake Peach, Ben Saunders, Matt Williams, Chris Turrell, Keiron Dunstan