Pete Hopson has played down suggestions the destiny of this year’s Southern Electric Premier League title will be decided this weekend.
The Havant player-coach sees his side host defending champions South Wilts – a team who have reeled off four straight wins to set the early pace in the top flight.
If we can win the game, it would dispel a few thoughts from some people that South Wilts have already won the leaguePete Hopson
The two clubs have shared seven out of the past eight titles dating back to 2007 – with only Bournemouth interrupting the dominance in 2010.
But it is South Wilts who are most definitely the top dogs at present with three successive crowns.
Havant will again attempt to shake off their tag of nearly men after two runners-up finishes and will have fresh memories of last season’s hopes going up in flames in the final day defeat to their closest rivals.
Hopson, however, insisted those wounds healed quickly but knows his club can send out a message if they can secure victory.
He said: ‘It was disappointing at the time but we are quite a young team so we know we will have other opportunities to win the league.
‘We didn’t have three weeks of mourning, let’s put it that way.
‘Half an hour after the game, we were sat outside with the South Wilts boys having a drink together.
‘We get on really well with them but we want to beat each other. The competitive nature is definitely there on the pitch. It is two good teams wanting to win.
‘If we can win the game, it would dispel a few thoughts from some people that South Wilts have already won the league.
‘It would show the rest of the league that we mean business. But it’s not a title-decider in May.
‘A win for South Wilts would give them a healthy lead but if we can get the win, it gives us something to hang on to over the summer.’
South Wilts came out on top in both games between the sides last season, which ultimately proved decisive.
But Hopson is expecting another tight tussle.
‘It’s a really, really important game but I don’t think we need to approach it too differently,’ he said.
‘We all know it’s a big game but it’s down to everyone to deal with that in their own way.
‘The intensity will be really high and the standard of cricket should be very high.
‘It will be down to the players from both sides to stand up as we have been the best two teams in the league for some time now.
‘We lost the timed game at home because we tried to chase a total we shouldn’t have.
‘We should have just been happy with the draw and I think that had a big impact on the season.
‘But it has been nip and tuck between us in recent years.
‘I don’t think there has been a dominant force in the games.
‘It’s about who performs on the day and can come up with the performance when it matters.’
Andy Gorvin and Richard Hindley are both available but Havant are waiting on Brad Wheal, depending on his Hampshire commitments.
Havant are in action again on Sunday in the ECB National Club Championship at home to Basingstoke & North Hants and they could face another South Wilts clash if they beat Ventnor in their fixture.