Relegation rivals ready for crucial scrap

Alex Richardson batting for Locks Heath. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122662-2)
Alex Richardson batting for Locks Heath. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122662-2)
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THE Hampshire League division one relegation battle could take another twist this weekend with two of the contenders taking each other on.

Locks Heath and Sarisbury Athletic II lock horns at Allotment Road tomorrow in a crucial battle.

The former gave their survival hopes a boost with a thrilling tie against New Milton II last week. But it could have been even better.

Jack Levy’s side had a much-needed victory snatched away on the last ball as the New Milton batsmen scrambled home for a second run to tie the scores at 261 runs apiece.

So relegation fears will still be in the back of their minds going into the match with the fellow strugglers.

Sarisbury go into the game staring at the drop following a loss to Fareham & Crofton last week.

However, captain Jon Floyd remains positive about his side’s predicament going into the last four games of the season – especially with a full-strength side to choose from.

He said: ‘There are four games to go and there’s no reason why we can’t win two of those four.

‘I think if we do that, we will stay in the division.

‘This game is on our own ground that is full of runs.

‘We need to post an intimidating score but we also need to back that up with good fielding and bowling.

‘In the past, we’ve always managed to score lots of runs and batting has always been our strength.

‘Where we let ourselves down is in our bowling, which has been a bit frail.

‘It’s an area we desperately need to improve, along with our fielding.’

Availability has been a problem in recent weeks, with the first team understandably calling on players to keep up their own promotion charge.

‘The firsts take our better players, which has weakened us,’ he said.

‘But we’ve got a full-strength side out this week and I’m feeling very confident.

‘It makes a massive difference to us when we’ve got everyone available.’

The same problem has also been affecting their rivals, with Floyd acknowledging Locks Heath have been ‘ravaged with unavailability’.

However, last week they had a couple of players back, including Alex Richardson, who made a big impact when he came to the crease.

Victory for either side could make a huge difference in whether they stay up or not.

Of the two, Locks Heath are in the better position.

They travel to Lymington II next weekend and take on Rowledge II and Bournemouth II before the season is out.

Sarisbury have a trickier close to the campaign but will be looking to a winnable tie at struggling United Services next weekend.

They then host Ellingham before a final-day encounter against high-flying Ropley.