Hatherleigh clinging on to hopes of Premier survival

Hatherleigh skipper Mark Lake - fitness fight to face Plymouth
Hatherleigh skipper Mark Lake - fitness fight to face Plymouth

HATHERLEIGH go to Plymouth this Saturday with their Premier Division survival hanging by a thread.

A Duckworth-Lewis defeat by fellow strugglers Bradninch last Saturday has left Hatherleigh 30 points adrift of safety.

Bradninch on 157 points are safe. Sandford (137) and Hatherleigh (128) are not if things stay the way they are.

With co-relegation worriers Bovey Tracey and title-chasers Exeter still to play, there are no easy points to be had for Hatherleigh now.

Hatherleigh skipper Mark Lake, who was injured and missed the defeat by Bradninch, said the team are not resigned to relegation yet.

“Until it is not possible we will keep fighting to stay up,” said Lake.

Lake and Rob Fishleigh are likely to miss the trip to Plymouth, who have only lost once in the last seven games.

Keeper-batter Davies is also unavailable.

Plymouth welcome back Hal Kerton and Adam Talbott, who were missing last Saturday. Tom Hughes and Fahad Ali make way.

SANDFORD skipper Richard Foan isn’t about to run-up the white flag on his side’s chances of dodging the drop from the Premier Division.

Despite back-to-back wins over fellow strugglers Hatherleigh and North Devon, Sandford remain in the bottom two. The fly in the ointment for Foan has been Bradninch staying a step ahead of them by defeating Sidmouth and Hatherleigh.

Sandford have to make up 21 points to get past Bradninch – and 26 to get ahead of Bovey Tracey, who are hovering over the bottom three.

Foan knows his team has a fight on its hands. But they won’t be striking their colours just yet.

“Put simply we have to keep winning,” said Foan.

“Bovey (versus Sidmouth) and Bradninch (v Exeter) have tough games this weekend and it is really a good chance to close the gap.”

Sandford face Exmouth, who scraped home by one wicket chasing 251 to win the last time the sides met.

Said Foan: “Exmouth are a dangerous side on their day, but we are playing much better cricket than when we faced them earlier in the season.”

Callum French, who was installed as Exmouth’s captain last week in succession to caretaker skipper Bob Dawson, knows Sandford will gunning for a third straight win.

“Sandford are scrapping for their lives and making a good go of it,” said French.

“We had a close game at the Maer earlier in the season and I am expecting no different,

“We have not won for four weeks since Hatherleigh away so are looking to get back to winning ways.

“We will have to play well to win, but we are up for the challenge.”

Batter Miles Lenyon is missing from the Exmouth side as he has to work and can’t make the start time. He will assist the 2ndXI instead.

Dan Pyle, another batter, is moving house and completely absent. Sandy Allen, Billy Rudolph and Harrison Folland all return to the side. Luke Davies is elevated from the 2ndXI.

BRADNINCH are aiming for three in a row when they face leaders Exeter at Kensham Park.

The Ninch followed up their win over Sidmouth with a two-wicket Duckworth-Lewis win over fellow strugglers Hatherleigh.

Weighing up Bradninch’s situation in the bottom three, and the challenge of the match ahead, Chappell said: “We have three tough games left, starting with Exeter this week.

“Their batters have been firing, which is why they’re at the top, but if we can get a couple early they don’t have a huge amount of depth.

“We play well at home historically and hopefully can get a thirdd straight win and the one we need to stay up.”

Dan Hardy and Leon Horn are missing from the Bradninch side. Kian Burns and Will Greig come in.

Exeter didn’t bowl a ball against Sidmouth, but as none of the top three got any action in they remain out in front.

The County Grounders would have been below full strength against Sidmouth, but are almost back to a full complement this Saturday with Dom Tuohey and Sean Morris back in the side.

Skipper Alex Barrow has a good idea what to expect from Bradninch, but will lead out a confident side.

“Bradninch are a better side than their league position suggests,” said Barrow.

“As expected they are starting to put some results together.

“Bradninch will be tough to beat but, as a group, we know we can go there and win.”

NORTH Devon captain Matt Westaway has spelled out what he expects in the dying weeks of the season after a run of three straight defeats.

North Devon have never been among the front runners this season and are now 33 points clear of the bottom two relegation places.

With 60 points to play for there is a slim chance of getting sucked into relegation trouble, although one more win in the last three games should be enough to banish any worries.

Westaway was critical after last Saturday’s 106-run Duckworth-Lewis System defeat by Sandford, describing North Devon’s performances as ‘sub-standard’.

Having had almost a week to mull it over, Westaway’s views have not changed.

“We had a team meeting and discussed what areas need to we improve on from the previous week,” said Westaway.

“As a collective we are frustrated with a string of sub-standard performances, so this week we will be focussing on our intent.

“We believe we play our best cricket when we are positive so we will try and put this into practice against Heathcoat.

“It is a tough challenge as they are a quality outfit and are near the top of the table.

“Our supporters deserve something to cheer about so I am hoping we can deliver for us and for them.

“The lads have bee training hard through the week to be ready for Heathcoat this Saturday.”

BOVEY Tracey skipper Toby Codd wants to end the worrying once and for all with a win over Sidmouth at Ashburton Road.

Bovey could get dragged into the relegation fight if they lose again and Bradninch and Sandford both win in round 16.

“Ideally, we need one more win to guarantee safety,” said Codd.

“We have got a huge three weeks coming up where every point is valuable.”

Spinner Chris Bradley and batter Lewis Hammett are restored to the side.

Sidmouth would have been without Devon captain Josh Bess against Exeter last Saturday. He returns for seamer Scott Barlow.

Tom Moore is preferred behind the stumps to Tom Wainwright.