‘We must find top four form’

Tom Gillespie batting for Hastings Priory against Eastbourne last weekend. Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-140628-175201002)
Tom Gillespie batting for Hastings Priory against Eastbourne last weekend. Picture by Steve Hunnisett (SUS-140628-175201002)

Ian Gillespie admits Hastings Priory’s cricketers are in a ‘dire position’ going into a crucial local derby away to Bexhill today (Saturday).

Priory first team coach Gillespie says the club must discover ‘top four’ form for the rest of the season to avoid relegation from the Sussex Premier League.

Gillespie said: “They’re certainly becoming must win games. Really we’ve got to show top four form for the rest of the season if we’re going to keep ourselves up. We’ve probably got to win four or five games from the last 10 or 11 that we’ve got left.”

Second-bottom Priory will be desperate to record their first league victory of the season against rock-bottom Bexhill.

Priory are three points better off than their neighbours, but 25 adrift of Three Bridges - who occupy the final safe spot of third-from-bottom - with a game in hand.

With this weekend marking the midway point in the season, the winners of today’s game will feel very much in touch with the teams just above, but the losers will have a lot of work to do in the battle for survival.

“We’re certainly running out of games so this one with Bexhill is going to be a very big game and possibly one that we can win, hopefully,” continued Gillespie.

“We’re very concerned. We’ve never been in this position before. We’ve only dabbled with relegation once in 40 years of the league, but battled our way to get out of it.

“This is a dire position and I think the plain truth of the matter is we just haven’t been able to force wins. We’ve had four teams nine (wickets) down or virtually nine down and we should’ve forced a victory in that.

“So far we just haven’t managed to convert any of those games into big points and so as a consequence of that we are where we are. We’ve really got to start doing that.

“Everyone’s working really hard at it; you never work harder than when things aren’t going well and the team spirit’s been good.”

George Campbell is back to captain a Priory side which won an ECB Royal London Club Championship third round tie away to Bexhill earlier in the season.

Harry Finch is again expected to miss out due to Sussex commitments, but Dan Doram - a tall 16-year-old left-arm spinner who has already played for Holland - is in line to make his Priory debut. Play is due to get underway from 12.30pm at The Polegrove.

TODAY’S CRICKET FIXTURES

Sussex Cricket League, 1st XI Premier Division (12.30): Bexhill v Hastings Priory.

1st XI Division 2 (1): Crowhurst Park v Lindfield.

1st XI Division 4 (1): Lewes Priory v Rye.

2nd XI Division 1 (1): Hastings Priory v Bexhill.

2nd XI Division 3 (East) (1): Lindfield v Crowhurst Park; Rye v Lewes Priory.

East Sussex League (1.30), Division 1: Iden v Lewes St Michaels.

Division 2: Battle v Newhaven; Robertsbridge v Barcombe.

Division 3: Little Common Ramblers v Ditchling II.

Division 4: Newick II v Bexhill III.

Division 5: Pett v Denton.

Division 6: Lewes St Michaels II v Iden II; Nutley v Udimore; Stanmer v Hastings Priory III.

Division 7: Burwash Weald v Linden Park IV; Newhaven II v Battle II; Rottingdean III v Robertsbridge II.

Division 8: Bexhill IV v Little Common Ramblers II.

Division 9: Bells Yew Green III v Pett II; Bexhill V v Mayfield III; Newick III v Sidley.

Division 10: Crowhurst Park III v Ringmer III; Mayfield IV v Rye III.

Division 11: Denton II v Robertsbridge III; Newhaven III v Crowhurst Park IV; Wadhurst II v Little Common Ramblers III.

Division 12: Rye IV v Lewes St Michaels III; Westfield v Hellingly IV.