Fareham and Services on hunt for crucial momentum
Fareham & Crofton and United Services head into their Hampshire League division one derby at Bath Lane with both teams needing a win.
The hosts have won just two of their opening six games, while Services are on the slide having lost three matches in succession.
Injured captain Luke Gould is still a few weeks away from a comeback.
But Fareham are boosted by the return of a couple of influential players.
Oliver Southon, a 16-year-old Kings College, Taunton student, and Loughborough University’s Dan Faulkner are back in their ranks.
‘Having two opening bowlers back in the side will make a big difference,’ said Gould.
‘It is an area where we have struggled a bit this season.
‘We are nearer to being back at full strength which is encouraging.
‘Although we have had a couple of good wins, we need to start picking up more.
‘At Ropley last week our batting was disappointing.
‘We were only chasing 220 but didn’t get anywhere near.
‘There are still another couple of players to return and I hope to be back next month.
‘Hopefully then we will be firing on all cylinders in the second half of the summer.
‘We know Services are a decent side but with both teams languishing in the lower half it could be tight.
‘Both will be keen to start making strides into the top half.’
Services’ captain Matt Easton is confident his team can turn their fortunes around sooner rather than later.
He felt his team pushed Portsmouth & Southsea all the way in last week’s derby defeat.
Easton said: ‘We are not too far away from getting it right.
‘But all credit to Portsmouth & Southsea – we had them in trouble at times but they battled back.
‘The only difference between the two sides was they took their chances and we didn’t.
‘It was a game that could have gone either way.
‘Little things cost us at the end of the day.
‘We dropped Tom Benfield a couple of times and he went on to get runs.
‘If we took 20 runs off their total it would have made a huge difference.
‘There are no weak teams in this league and you have to be prepared to fight for everything.
‘You cannot afford to let anything go by you.
‘With both teams needing to win I am sure this game will be well contested.
‘We have to make sure we put things right and come away from another derby with the right result.
Services go into the game without the experienced pair Gary Hounsome and Fraser Quirke, who are unavailable.