Smith: Portsmouth & Southsea just need first win

Matt Benfield. Picture: Sarah Standing
Matt Benfield. Picture: Sarah Standing
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Matt Smith remains defiant despite witnessing a fifth straight Southern Electric Premier League division three defeat for his Portsmouth & Southsea strugglers.

The stand-in captain, who is currently replacing Lewis Russell, praised the battling qualities of his side in their two-wicket defeat against fellow strugglers Fair Oak at St James Hospital.

He believes they have been unfortunate not to have more points on the board – feeling they were in with a shout of winning several games.

‘No-one is giving up,’ said Smith.

‘We feel we have done a lot better than our results show and could have ended up winning four of our first five games.

‘Instead our record reads lost all five and we feel that is a little unjust.

‘We had all sorts of problems with players during midweek and I reckon throughout the club we had 27 unavailable this weekend.

‘With a full team out or even just one more bowler we would have won this game.’

The home side lost the vital toss and were put into bat on a wet wicket.

With the ball popping up, the hosts endured a tough opening 30 overs.

It was 19-year-old Tom Benfield who saved Portsmouth & Southsea from a total disaster.

Batting at number six (65) the teenager held the innings together with a mature display.

He won praise from Smith for his strong recovery after not managing to hit top gear in the team’s first four matches of the season.

‘That is the best I have ever seen him bat,’ said Smith.

‘He has struggled in our opening four games and there was a lot of pressure on him to perform.

‘You wouldn’t have thought that watching him bat with great fluency.

‘He wasn’t fazed by the situation and towards the end hit some big sixes.’

The odds were still very much against the home side as they set out to defend their meagre total of 122.

They couldn’t have wished for a better start, though, as strike bowler Matt Benfield removed one of the openers first ball of the innings.

And when Benfield threw down the stumps at the bowlers end shortly afterwards, the visitors were two for two.

Benfield then took another catch to make it 30 for three and Portsmouth & Southsea were right back in contention.

It showed a great amount of character.

‘We clawed our way back and showed true grit and determination,’ said Smith.

‘When Dave Chisholm took another three quick wickets with his slow left-arm we felt we had got ourselves back in with a shout.

‘Everyone out on the pitch stuck at it showed great support for each other.’

With the pitch improving all the time, though, Portsmouth & Southsea just didn’t have enough runs.

But they are confident they can stay up.

‘We have got the players to survive at this level but we know that we have to start winning games,’ said Smith.

‘Once we get a victory under our belt I am sure we will be okay.

‘We have just forgotten how to win games.

‘There is still a long way to go and we have shown in our performances that we are not the worst team in this league.