Bexhill Cricket Club has a second chance to secure its Sussex Premier League status tomorrow (Saturday).
The men from The Polegrove currently occupy the final safe spot of third-bottom with a 34-point cushion over second-bottom Three Bridges.
As long as that gap remains in excess of 30 points after the penultimate round of matches tomorrow, Bexhill will be certain of avoiding relegation. Should it drop beneath 30, Bexhill’s fate will come down to the final set of games next weekend.
Bexhill will take on third-placed East Grinstead in their last home fixture of the summer tomorrow, while Bridges are away to fourth-placed neighbours Horsham.
Bexhill would have been safe already had they won a nailbiting contest away to Bridges last weekend which they ultimately lost by one wicket.
“All the boys were gutted, but we’ll pick ourselves up,” said Bexhill first team coach Ian Cox. “We’re 34 points ahead still and we’re still in a decent position.”
Despite their defeat to Bridges, the odds are still heavily stacked in Bexhill’s favour. One win from their final two matches will almost certainly be enough for Bexhill to beat the drop regardless of results elsewhere and Bridges must win at least one of their last two to overhaul Bexhill’s present total.
The final day matches, incidentally, will see Bexhill travel to rock-bottom local rivals Hastings Priory and Bridges entertain second-placed Preston Nomads, who still have a chance of retaining the title.
“You just don’t know so we need to try and get a win from our last two games,” Cox continued. “We would like to go into the last week not having to worry about it. It will be a real achievement for us if we do it this week.”
Bexhill are hoping it will be third time lucky having been relegated in 2010 and 2012 following promotion from Division Two in 2009 and 2011.
Although Bexhill were seen off by six wickets in the reverse fixture against Grinstead, they will doubtless take heart from Hastings’s comfortable seven-wicket victory over the same opponents last weekend.
“Potentially they could have (Sussex bowler) Lewis Hatchett playing,” added Cox. “That will be a test for us, but if he plays, we’ll do our best.”
Callum Guest is back for the final two games, but Johnathan Haffenden is about to get married and will therefore miss them both. Bexhill are unsure about the availability of Ashar Zaidi, who was due to play in a three-day game for Sussex seconds this week.