RELIEF was palpable as Fareham & Crofton kick-started their Hampshire League division one campaign with a 34-run win over St Cross Symondians III at Bath Lane.
After starting the season with two defeats, captain Luke Gould was pleased to see his side finally get their act together.
The skipper has high hopes Fareham & Crofton can challenge at the top of the table this summer.
And believes the first win will spur them on.
‘This is a big win for us and for the first time this season we properly got our heads around 50 overs of cricket,’ said Gould.
‘We felt we were in good shape coming into the season but suffered a couple of middle-order batting collapses in our first two games.
‘That was very disappointing and we didn’t show ourselves in a very good light.
‘This time, though, our batsmen stood up to be counted.
‘We were able to set a target which we felt was par and very defendable.
‘Although we have already lost two games, it is still possible for us to get ourselves back in the mix.
‘We picked up 23 points yesterday and if we can do that again against some of the stronger teams then we will be back up there.’
St Cross won the toss and Fareham & Crofton found themselves put into bat on a good wicket despite the midweek rain.
They lost opening batsman Sam Stoddart early on but his fellow opener, Tom Kent (62), went on to anchor the innings.
Along with his captain, Kent helped steer the home side to 140 for two in the 32nd over.
Gould contributed 58 as they put the visitors under pressure.
‘Scoring three or four runs an over is where we always hope to be at that stage,’ said the captain.
‘If we do that then we have a couple of big hitters who can come in and finish the job.
‘Tom (Kent) is a very elegant yet sturdy player.
‘And he is often the glue that holds our top order together.
‘He is also our wicketkeeper which makes it extra tough for him.
‘However, he just gets on with the job usually spending long spells at the crease.’
Gould was, however, left fearing another middle-order collapse after losing a couple of wickets.
But this time Luke Cornish helped rescue the situation.
Cornish notched 28 and, alongside Kent, he helped add 50 runs for the sixth wicket.
Fareham & Crofton eventually closed on 229 for eight.
When the visitors replied, Darra Hagan and Benedict White (two for 25) maintained a stranglehold on the batsmen.
This meant St Cross were always behind the required rate.
‘Darra (Hagan) didn’t take any wickets but they couldn’t lay a bat on him,’ said Gould.
‘He is a lot quicker than most batsmen in this league are used to.’
With St Cross chasing the game, Gould was able to introduce medium pacer Richard Emery into the attack at Bath Lane.
He made things awkward for the visiting batsmen, taking four for 37 and ensured they fell short in their run chase.