Havant title hopes take a hit

Chris Stone. Picture: Mick Young (122719-14)
Chris Stone. Picture: Mick Young (122719-14)
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Pete Hopson believes Havant can still regain their Southern Electric Premier League premier division crown after their title hopes suffered a serious blow.

Stuart Ransley’s side went down to a 58-run home loss to defending champions South Wilts in the crunch timed game – a result that saw the two sides switch places at the top of the table.

South Wilts skipper Tom Morton was the star of the show as he notched his second successive century with a chanceless 114 in their mighty total of 298 for five in 64 overs.

Havant adopted a positive approach in attempting to chase it down – when other sides would have simply blocked out for a draw – as they backed themselves to earn victory.

But their innings failed to fire and nobody was able to match Morton’s earlier efforts as they succumbed to 240 all out and slipped to a first league defeat of the campaign after their run of six straight wins.

While that now leaves Havant in second place and playing catch-up, player-coach Hopson knows there are many more twists and turns to come over the course of the season.

He said: ‘It has knocked us off the top and we are a few points behind but we have to stay positive.

‘We need to try to get as many points as we can out of the remaining games to keep us in the hunt.

‘Obviously, it would help us if South Wilts lose.

‘But by no means is it done and dusted. There is a lot of cricket left to play this season.’

Opening batsman Morton’s 159-ball stay, which included 12 fours, was the difference between the sides as he shared a 97-run stand for the first wicket with Eddie Abel (53) before Richard Hindley made the breakthrough. Steve Matthews (one for 84) got through a serious workload with 19 overs and earned his reward when he eventually had Morton trapped leg before wicket with the score at 238 for three.

Hopson was full of praise for his rival opening batsman.

He said: ‘He batted really, really well and didn’t give us much of a chance.

‘He batted in a selfless way for the team and it was a really classy knock.

‘South Wilts did very well on a decent deck. We tried lots of different things and it didn’t necessarily pay off. They just batted sensibly.’

While Havant set off in pursuit, Hopson (13), Ben Walker (31), Chris Morgan (29) and Harry Hovey (29) all fell to leave the home side in trouble at 126 for four.

And while Chris Stone (44) and Ransley (27) put on 49 for the fifth wicket, it told the story that it was Havant’s highest partnership.

Hopson said: ‘The original thought was to try to chase it down. We try to play in a positive way.

‘In hindsight, we probably should have realised we weren’t going to be able to chase it down a lot earlier.

‘But I think it’s a positive thing that we are willing to be bold enough to try to win games.

‘We’ve got the batting line-up to chase down big scores.

‘We just lost wickets at poor times and we never really developed any significant partnerships.

‘It was just one of those days and will go down as a learning experience.

‘Hopefully, we can exact some sort of revenge when we play them again in August.’