Bexhill clinch highest finish for 19 years

Sam Roberts goes on the drive during Bexhill's defeat at home to Cuckfield last weekend. Picture by Simon Newstead
Sam Roberts goes on the drive during Bexhill's defeat at home to Cuckfield last weekend. Picture by Simon Newstead
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Bexhill Cricket Club’s first team has secured its highest league finish for 19 years.

Johnathan Haffenden’s side is guaranteed to finish third in the Sussex Premier League regardless of the result in its final game of the season.

A victory away to neighbours Hastings Priory tomorrow (Saturday) would also give Bexhill a higher points total than they achieved in coming fourth last summer.

Haffenden said: “It’s progression on last year and ideally that’s the one thing you want. There’s massive positives and I think we’ve started to learn this year about how to put things right.

“Next year is another big season and you would want to move on again, you want to keep moving forward. The club’s going in the right direction, everything’s good at the moment.

“The only disappointing thing is we got ourselves in a position to go better than third. Looking back over the course of the season there’s been some big mishaps that have cost us.

“Worthing at home was a killer (Bexhill were one wicket away from victory in a draw against the division’s bottom club), we took no points really from Roffey this year and then (Preston) Nomads at home was a terrible one for us.”

Bexhill have picked up 10 wins from their 17 completed matches so far and, unusually for them, four of their five defeats have been at home. Tellingly, they lost twice to leaders Roffey and were also beaten by second-placed Cuckfield last weekend.

“We’ve always been very good at home, but for some reason this year it’s been the worst place for us to play,” continued Haffenden. “We’ve travelled very well.”

On the plus side, quite possibly for the first time, four Bexhill batsmen could score more than 500 runs in a season.

The race is still on to be the club’s top first team runscorer. Shawn Johnson currently leads the way with 608, followed by Callum Guest (563), Sam Roberts (521) and Malcolm Johnson (487).

“To have four batsmen in the top 10 of the (division’s) runscorers is very good for us,” Haffenden went on. “And (Josh) Beeslee has been fantastic (with 29 league wickets).”

Although there’s nothing riding on the result, Bexhill will be keen to continue their excellent recent record against a fifth-placed Hastings side which has enjoyed a terrific season.

“We’ve got nothing to play for, but you don’t want to get beaten in a local derby whether you’re playing for the title or nothing,” added Haffenden.

“They’ve done well, probably a lot better than they were thinking. They would hope to put up more of a fight I’m sure than they did at The Polegrove (Bexhill were comfortable winners in the reverse fixture), but if we perform to what we can, then we’ll be looking to win the game.

“I should imagine it will be a massive toss. Whoever wins the toss I would’ve thought will bat. It will probably turn from ball one and whichever spinners perform the best, I’m sure their side will come out victors. We’ve got three very good spinners so we’ll be going in with confidence.”

Joe Cox is again a fitness doubt for Bexhill, while Liam Bryant may come in for Will Edwards. Play is due to get under way from 11.30am at Horntye Park.

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