Promotion fate in Priory’s hands

Jake Woolley is doubtful for Hastings Priory's trip to Findon tomorrow because of an ankle problem
Jake Woolley is doubtful for Hastings Priory's trip to Findon tomorrow because of an ankle problem
  • Hastings Priory enter final two games of promotion bid
  • Two wins will almost certainly secure promotion
  • 14 points cover the top three with two to go up
  • Second-placed Priory two points above Lindfield
  • Priory’s remaining fixtures are against bottom two

Hastings Priory’s promotion fate is in their own hands with two games remaining.

Priory hold the second and final Sussex Cricket League Division Two promotion place so two more victories would almost certainly secure an instant return to the Premier League after last summer’s relegation.

Priory held on to win by two wickets away to Ansty last weekend, while Lindfield dropped from first to third after losing by one run at St James’s Montefiore.

“We’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s in our hands,” said Priory first team coach Ian Gillespie. “Morale’s good, the team’s right up for it and it’s a case of making sure we play good cricket.”

Priory are just two points ahead of Lindfield and 12 adrift of new pacesetters Worthing. With the top three covered by only 14 points, much could happen over the final two weekends.

“Bowling-wise we’ve got to make sure we don’t give cheap runs away and apply pressure,” continued Gillespie. “Batting-wise I think the big thing will be how we cope with the pressure, be it setting a target or a run chase.”

Priory’s final two games are against the bottom two sides. They travel to Findon tomorrow (Saturday) before hosting neighbours Crowhurst Park next weekend.

Priory amassed 304-5 in 41 overs with the bat in the reverse fixture against Findon, but after all the rain of this week, it’s likely to be a very different game this time.

“It will be very different on their ground, especially in light of the weather we’ve had this week,” Gillespie went on. “We said last week we’ve got three cup finals and this is the second of those.

“It will be tough, but if we can get a 30-pointer this week, the pressure is very much on Lindfield to do the same. And if they don’t, we’ve got a bit of a gap for the following week.”

Jake Woolley is battling for fitness after going over on his ankle against Ansty, while Tom Gillespie’s season is over after breaking his thumb in the same game. Adam Maharaj-Newman will take his place after scoring a hundred for the seconds.

Worthing’s last two matches are at home to Pagham and away to St James’s, while Lindfield are at home to Ifield and away to Ansty.

Jed O’Brien has achieved the rare feat of taking 50 league wickets in a season and Gillespie is full of admiration for the performances of the young left-arm spinner.

He said: “That’s a fantastic effort, particularly as he’s been part of a balanced bowling attack - it’s not as if he’s bowling 20 overs every week.”

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