United Services give themselves fighting chance of avoiding relegation

John Hadfield batting for US Portsmouth  Picture: Steve Reid
John Hadfield batting for US Portsmouth Picture: Steve Reid
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United Services Portsmouth gave themselves a Hampshire League division one lifeline with a vital two-run win at New Milton II.

Services captain Matt Easton believes the win gives his team a realistic chance of staying up.

It was a crucial success because a number of Services’ main relegation rivals also won.

Sarisbury beat Locks Heath, while St Cross Syms saw off Hook & N Basics.

However, with basement side Rowledge remaining winless, the positions at the foot of the table remain as they were before the weekend with three matches to go.

After dropping down from the Southern Electric League at the end of last season, Easton is desperate to keep his team up.

And he is convinced his team can go on and complete the job.

‘We don’t want to experience two successive relegations,’ said Easton.

‘It is important that the club stay at this level.

‘At the start of the season we knew that we needed to consolidate before moving forward.

‘We are determined to stay up and are confident we can do it.

‘Next week’s relegation battle against Sarisbury Athletic is a massive game for both teams.’

Easton’s decision to bat first after winning the toss paid off as Harry Gadd (15) and Tom May (26) got them off to a solid start.

When May top-edged a full-toss to square-leg, John Hadfield (56) came in and carried on the good work.

Hadfield and Tom Murtagh steadied the ship before the tail-enders boosted Services even further.

Jack Cannell hit an explosive 29 not out off just nine balls and Easton (28) weighed in with important runs.

Easton said: ‘We thought 241 for eight was a decent score and one that we could defend.’

New Milton started well in their reply pushing the score along at five an over for the first 10 overs.

Some good bowling by Easton (three for 27) and Gadd, who only conceded 19 runs from his 10 overs, put the brakes on the New Forest side.

Services applied the pressure but all the time the hosts’ dangerous opener was there, they remained in danger.

The dangerman however was finally despatched by Jack Cannell who had him caught behind five overs from the end.

‘It was great revenge for Jack who had been crashed for a few big sixes by their batsman,’ said Easton.

‘That was a key moment for us.

‘At the end it was nice to have everyone smiling from ear to ear back in the dressing room.’

But Services cannot rest on their laurels as they face three more vital matches.

They are at home to fellow strugglers Sarisbury II next weekend, followed by Lymington II.