Hastings left with ‘mountain to climb’

Elliot Hooper batting for Hastings Priory during their most recent home game against Ifield two weeks ago. Picture by Simon Newstead
Elliot Hooper batting for Hastings Priory during their most recent home game against Ifield two weeks ago. Picture by Simon Newstead

Hastings Priory coach Ian Gillespie admits the cricket club now faces a mountain to climb if it’s to avoid relegation.

A six-wicket defeat in a key game away to Middleton on Saturday has left second-bottom Priory 37 points adrift of a Cuckfield side which occupies the final Sussex League Premier Division safe spot of third-bottom with seven games remaining.

What’s more, Priory’s next six league matches are against the top six clubs and fast bowler Adam Barton is likely to be out for around five weeks with a broken wrist.

Gillespie said: “We won’t give up until the end and we’ll battle on, but it’s a mountain to climb. We’ve still got to win four games out of seven I think to stay up.”

Priory were bowled out for just 148 by Middleton - the sixth time in 10 league innings this season they’ve failed to reach 150 and the fifth time in as many away fixtures.

“It was a hugely disappointing result,” continued Gillespie. “We didn’t bat well enough. We didn’t get enough runs, as simple as that. A few starts, but not going on - it’s been a season-long problem.

“We didn’t build big partnerships. We should’ve got 200-plus, which would’ve put a bit of pressure on. They all bowled well, but we’re just finding ways to get out.

“Jake Woolley batted very sensibly - he’s learned how to bat for a long time - but we just don’t seem to be able to get runs on the board.

“And we thought we had a very good batting line-up, especially with Harry (Finch) in it. We had good depth to our batting, but as it turned out, it fell short of the mark.

“We didn’t bowl badly and we stuck at the task well, but we didn’t have the runs to get on top and they showed it wasn’t a difficult wicket to bat on if you were prepared to play within your means and play sensibly.”

Priory also incurred two penalty points for Josh Beeslee’s reaction to be given out LBW and the spin bowler is likely to be banned for the trip to second-placed Brighton & Hove today (Saturday), although Gillespie considered the punishment excessive.

To make matters worse, Ryan Hoadley and Harry Scowen are on holiday.

On a brighter note, Priory have a Gray-Nicolls Sussex T20 Cup semi-final at home to league leaders Roffey to look forward to tomorrow (Sunday). Play will get underway from 1pm at Horntye Park.

“It’s good to have a cup semi-final at home and hopefully it will be a good game of cricket,” added Gillespie.

See also: * Sussex star can’t save Hastings from defeat
* Hastings clinch vital victory in bottom two tussle

Benefit from an ongoing discount on your Observer by joining our voucher membership scheme. Once you’ve subscribed, we’ll send you dated vouchers which can be exchanged for your paper at any news outlet. To save money on your Observer, simply click here (www.localsubsplus.co.uk)