Easton: United front required to beat rivals

United Services captain Matt Easton is calling on his team to produce their best for the Hampshire League division one derby against Portsmouth & Southsea at Burnaby Road.

Friday, 17th June 2016, 7:30 am
Mark Toogood returns to United Services action tomorrow Pictures: Sarah Standing

Easton regards the visitors as one of the strongest teams in their league but believes his own side are capable of upsetting them.

After a good start back in Hampshire one after last season’s promotion, Services have lost their last two games.

The home captain is keen to get back to winning ways and is confident his team can push their high-flying opponents all the way.

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‘This is a game none of our players want to miss,’ said Easton.

‘Though we have lost a couple of games we have not been ‘rolled’ by anyone.

‘Last week we lost out to a very good Ventnor side on the Isle of Wight.

‘The encouraging thing is, though, that we have managed to keep picking up points.

‘That makes a big difference come the end of the season.

‘We know that it is a step up from last season because this is a good league with few weak teams in it.

‘I am convinced, however, that we will have no trouble consolidating ourselves in the league.

‘This is the level we should realistically be playing in.

‘We are pleased to have a couple of important players back for us in this game.’

Services’ chances are strengthened by the return of two experienced campaigners.

Opening batsman Mark Toogood and opening bowler John Parker return to action and they are both influential figures in the side.

Portsmouth & Southsea have made an excellent start to the campaign winning four of their opening five games.

Captain Keiron Dunstan is keen to see his team push for the title and promotion to the Southern League.

After losing for the first time this season, at Bishops Waltham, they bounced back with an impressive eight-wicket win over Ropley.

They have already shown how devastating their bowling attack can be by bowling Ellingham out for just 58 runs in the space of 24 overs.

‘Apart from the debacle at Bishop’s Waltham, we have got the start that we wanted,’ said vice-captain Matt Smith.

‘This team has been together a few years now and we feel that it is time we did the business.

‘Except for our one slip-up, we have been on top of teams in all our games.

‘United Services have just come up and will be keen to put one over on us.

‘They have some dangerous players in their team so we will need to be wary.

‘If we fire properly it should be more than enough to see them off.’

Smith is away on holiday in Ireland so Tom Benfield takes over behind the stumps, with in-form second-team batsman James Cleary called up.