Returning duo fail to halt Horndean slide

Damian Roberts
Damian Roberts
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Horndean’s winless run in National League division two south extended to six games after a straight-sets loss to City of Bristol.

Things remain bleak for the Deans, who now find themselves at the lower end of the table as the season hits the halfway point.

Our target is to fight and stay in the division... and we are determined to achieve this as a team

Nasser Ssemuwemba

Nasser Ssemuwemba’s squad have failed to win a match since facing rivals Team Southampton at the start of the season.

Although the player-coach admits this defeat puts his side under pressure in the fight against the drop, he is adamant they will turn things around in the second half of the campaign.

Ssemuwemba said: ‘This is without doubt a nightmare run for all of us at the club.

‘These bad results have really affected our belief.

‘We are now relying on the return of our big players to help us refresh the team and end this barren run.

‘Our target is to fight and stay in the division.

‘And we are determined to achieve this as a team.

‘From the beginning, we knew we were going to struggle this term because we are not as strong as we were last season.

‘But we did not think it would turn out to be this bad.’

The return to the fold of two experienced players – Benoit Royer and Damian Roberts – was a welcome boost for the Deans at Priory School.

But the duo’s presence did not create the instant success their team desperately hoped for.

Instead, it was City of Bristol who made a bright start by sprinting into a 7-1 lead as the Deans’ lack of confidence was again highlighted.

But any chance of recovery took a further knock when Royer, who was brought out of retirement to try to refine the beleaguered setting department, lasted only the first quarter of the match.

He was forced off court after pulling a muscle in his leg, while Roberts’ man-of-the-match performance could not prevent the visitors from clinching the first two sets with identical scores of 25-15.

The Deans later launched a mini fightback to stay in the match.

But it was shortlived as the visitors held on to wrap up the match 25-21 – thanks largely to their powerful opposite player.

The Deans will aim to replicate their only triumphant moment so far this season when they host their south-coast rivals Team Southampton at Priory School on Saturday (12.30pm).