Bexhill’s cricketers will be desperate to continue their excellent recent record against Hastings Priory and give their Sussex Premier League survival hopes a much-needed boost.
Bexhill will be aiming for a fourth consecutive home league victory over Hastings and to extend their five-match unbeaten league run against their neighbours anywhere when the sides meet at The Polegrove tomorrow (Saturday). Play is due to start at 12noon.
“It’s massive I think for both sides,” said Bexhill captain Johnathan Haffenden. “Hastings won’t want to get drawn back and we want to pull forwards.
“They’ve never liked coming to The Polegrove and it’s a derby. If you can’t get up for a game like that, then there’s something wrong.”
Last weekend’s results went firmly against Bexhill. Hastings - who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom - won at home to Brighton & Hove to move 41 points clear of second-bottom Bexhill, who were beaten away to new leaders Cuckfield.
“We’ll be looking to win the game; we always do,” continued Haffenden. “A bit of self-belief and I’m sure we’ll be close to putting in what I think is a good performance from us.
“Both teams are probably not doing as well as they would like and they’re probably feeling a bit of pressure as well.”
Priory have won three of their eight matches so far, two of the victories coming away from home, while Bexhill’s one win was away from The Polegrove.
“We’ve not played very well at home this year and we need to,” added Haffenden, who hopes Bradley Payne and James Walker will be fit but Stuart Collier is on holiday.
Collier ‘bowled beautifully’ in the words of Haffenden to dismiss both Cuckfield openers cheaply last weekend before pulling his hamstring after three overs. Bexhill’s fast start faded thereafter and they ended up being beaten by 169 runs.
“It was the perfect start,” said Haffenden. “Stuart’s always been a good player and he just showed what he could do. It was good to have him.
“Shawn (Johnson) bowled his best this season, Ethan (Guest) bowled well up top and Nick (Peters) did everything he needed to do, but they batted really well and ended up posting a bigger score than we would’ve liked.”
After Cuckfield recovered to post 270-7, Bexhill were then bowled out for 101 with no batsman scoring more than 20.
“We weren’t good enough,” admitted Haffenden. “It’s a hard mindset to get round chasing 270 and confidence is a bit low, which is something we’re trying our hardest to get round.
“It’s probably not natural for a lot of these boys to be in this situation because they’re such good players and it’s come easily for them. It’s tough when you’re not in form.
“We’ve been lucky over the last few years; we’ve won and won well. We’re out of our comfort zone at the moment. It’s something we need to change and we are trying.
“We just need to relax and put in a good performance. You’ve got to enjoy it, otherwise you think ‘what’s the point’? Enjoyment is a massive part and obviously that comes when you win games.
“We know that we can bowl sides out, but we need to be better with the bat.”
Sussex Premier League standings (all played 8 matches): 1 Cuckfield 198pts, 2 Roffey 195, 3 East Grinstead 194, 4 Horsham 187, 5 Preston Nomads 169, 6 Middleton 147, 7 Brighton & Hove 120, 8 HASTINGS PRIORY 117, 9 BEXHILL 76, 10 Ansty 54.