Portsmouth captain Dave Henderson is adamant his side won’t blow promotion after slipping to a one-wicket defeat against Fawley at Clarence Parade.
Their third defeat of the season means the club have been knocked off the top of Southern Electric division two after occupying pole position for most of the summer.
Henderson insists, however, that there is no need for concern heading into the final month of the campaign.
After setting a target of 174, Portsmouth had the game virtually won when they reduced the Oilmen to 106 for nine with 13 overs remaining.
It looked odds on a win for the hosts only for Fawley’s final pair frustrating them to inch their side over the line with three balls left.
Henderson felt everything conspired against his team in a contest they could and maybe should have won.
‘It was just one of those days when things don’t go for you,’ said Henderson.
‘We had our fifth bowler drop out the night before, we were put into bat on a wet wicket and a number of decisions didn’t go our way.
‘This season we have come out on top in five or six tight games but this one went against us.
‘Fawley never looked like they were on top but we suffered with the lack of a fifth bowler.
‘After we got nine Fawley wickets down we had four or five strong appeals which we were a bit surprised didn’t go our way.’
The home club soon found themselves in trouble after being put into bat on a pitch that was waterlogged the day before.
Of the top seven batsmen only Jack Marston (73 runs) provided any resistance as the home side fell to 80 for six.
It was only when joined by Vikram Dawson (40) that the pair gave the innings added momentum with a 72-run seventh-wicket partnership.
‘Vikram is easily our best player, batting, bowling and fielding,’ said Henderson.
‘He attacked the bowling from the start and unlike our other batsmen played his shots along the ground.
‘His runs come from a series of cut shots and cover drives.
‘He was also brilliant in the changing room afterwards, helping keep things in perspective when the lads were a little down.’
When Fawley began their run chase it was a Marston again, this time Andrew, who stepped into the spotlight.
He took three wickets for 19 runs in his 10 overs, but in the end the home side ran out of bowling options.
‘Our next two games are against the bottom two clubs and if we play sensible cricket we should win them,’ said Henderson.
‘I reckon we only need to win two more games to get promoted.
‘After topping the league for most of the season it would be disappointing if we didn’t do it.
‘We are a very young squad with seven of our players still under 19 years of age.’