Purbrook punished on off day – and it could get worse

Purbrook skipper Martin Lee   Picture: Mick Young
Purbrook skipper Martin Lee Picture: Mick Young
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Martin Lee pulled no punches in his assessment of Purbrook’s disappointing defeat to Ropley and accepted his side are now in a two-way fight for a Hampshire League division one promotion spot with Portsmouth & Southsea.

Second-placed Purbrook had harboured hopes of pipping unbeaten league leaders Alton II, having lost only once themselves all campaign prior to this weekend.

But a poor all-round display at Ropley saw their number of defeats double as third-placed Portsmouth & Southsea – who themselves have only lost twice – won at Andover II to move within striking distance.

With Alton again victorious, the fight for second spot is now Purbrook’s primary goal with skipper Lee looking for improvement’s from Saturday’s below-par showing.

He said: ‘It’s now between us and Portsmouth and Southsea in a two-horse race for second place.

‘It is ours to lose as we are still second and in the commanding spot but we can ill afford any more slip-uos.

‘It is down to us to perform.

‘But at Ropley we were second best on all accounts.

‘We weren’t at the races as a team.

‘We weren’t clinical enough in any area and I don’t know why.’

Lee (51) led the charge for the visitors with the bat as he struck a half-century in their 216-for-nine total, which was always going to be tough to defend.

But a combination of poor bowling, fielding and the brilliance of Ropley’s in-form overseas batsman Tim Neidland (104 not out) meant the contest was an easy one for the home side (218 for four).

Lee said: ‘It was just a bad day at the office for us and their overseas player batted very well.

‘He is one of the better batsmen in the league and has got a lot of runs for them – you can see why.

‘As for us, I got a fifty but then got out.

‘We just kept losing wickets at bad times and when you keep losing wickets the run-rate slows down.

‘If myself or a couple of the others who got off to starts stayed in for a bit longer then it could have been a different story. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

‘We were not the best in the field and we didnt bowl that great either – it was just a bad day for us.

‘Unfortunately, we chose to have our bad day against a good team and were always going to get punished.

‘We need to lick our wounds and come back stronger next time out.’

Portsmouth & Southsea skipper Keiran Dunstan believes Purbrook’s loss has opened the door for his side to snatch the second promotion spot.

That’s after Portsmouth & Southsea (208 all out) thrashed Andover II (106) by 102 runs to close the gap on their rivals.

Dunstan said: ‘Purbrook losing to Ropley has opened it right up for that second promotion spot.

‘If we win our remaining four games then I think that should be enough for us.

‘We have still got to play league-leaders Alton in a couple of weeks which will be a crunch game but if we can win that then we feel we will have every opportunity.’

The visitors were indebted to a fine batting display from Matt Benfield (78) at Andover as he teamed up with brother Tom (45) to earn the praise of his skipper.

Dunstan said: ‘Matt and his brother put on a very good partnership.

‘Tom batted well and nearly got his fifty.

‘Matt has matured over the last few years into a fantastic cricketer and is always going to score runs.

‘He is the best player in our team to put it bluntly.’

While Portsmouth & Southsea excelled with the bat to lay down an imposing target to the hosts, Dunstan was also quick to praise his bowlers’ work as they put Andover to the sword.

Dunstan himself grabbed a couple of wickets as they were shared around the visiting attack with Jonathan Tulley Chris Turrell, Matt Benfield and Jonty Peach all contributing.

‘I think Andover felt fairly confident they could chase us down – they have chased down scores over 200 in the last three weeks,’ added Dunstan.

‘But I don’t think they have come up against a bowling attack like ours.

‘I would say it is one of the best, if not the best in the league.’

Elsewhere in division one, United Services slipped to a three-wicket home defeat to Shrewton, who leapfrogged them in the process.

Bishop’s Waltham gave their survival hopes a huge boost as they pulled clear of danger with an impressive 28-run win over Hook & Newnham Basics, who began the day in fourth place.

Waltham moved up to 15th spot with victory.

In division two, Locks Heath provided an upset as they inflicted leaders Longparish’s first defeat of the season.

Jack Paskins’ side set an imposing total of 245 for five, with the visitors falling 45 runs short in their chase.