Hastings coach keen to end season strongly

Ryan Hoadley batting for Hastings Priory during the reverse fixture at home to Horsham. Picture by Simon Newstead
Ryan Hoadley batting for Hastings Priory during the reverse fixture at home to Horsham. Picture by Simon Newstead

Hastings Priory coach Ian Gillespie is determined to end the season strongly, even if he accepts the cricket club is heading for relegation.

Second-bottom Priory are 52 points adrift of a Cuckfield side which occupies the final Sussex Cricket League Premier Division safe spot of third-bottom with five games to go.

Gillespie said: “Realistically we’re going to get relegated. We’re 50 points adrift and to pick that up with the run-in we’ve got is unlikely. If we were going to get back up, we had to beat Middleton and Brighton (last month) really.

“We’ve got to finish the season well and there’s an element of pride in our performances. Brighton and Eastbourne know they’ve had two competitive games, and we beat Ifield twice and ran Horsham close, but the rest of them we’ve under-sold ourselves.

See also: * Hastings beaten by Eastbourne despite Barton brilliance
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“The other element is wanting to have something to build on for next season. We want to show we can play some good cricket, that we can bat well and we can take wickets. The spirit in the side is excellent.”

Gillespie said there were ‘encouraging signs’ in last weekend’s 64-run defeat at home to local rivals Eastbourne last weekend.

“On Saturday we certainly showed when we’re all there as a bowling force, we’re a serious bowling attack capable of bowling sides out and we’re starting to show signs we can apply ourselves with the bat,” Gillespie continued.

Priory have five games remaining and the next four are against clubs in the top six, starting with a trip to fourth-placed Horsham today (Saturday). Horsham won a thrilling reverse fixture back in early June after hitting a six off the final ball.

“It’s always a tough place to go and they’re a good club, but we would like to give a good account of ourselves,” Gillespie added. “It’s an attractive ground to play at.”

Priory should be boosted by the return of Elliot Hooper, who claimed eight wickets in his last league outing against second-placed Brighton & Hove a fortnight ago.

Sussex League Premier Division standings (all played 13 matches): 1 Roffey 297pts, 2 Brighton & Hove 283, 3 Eastbourne 282, 4 Horsham 254, 5 Preston Nomads 251, 6 East Grinstead 242, 7 Middleton 196, 8 Cuckfield 189, 9 HASTINGS PRIORY 137, 10 Ifield 119.

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