Relegation pressure mounts for crunch Brighton battle

Luke Wells is not expected to be available for Eastbourne's home match against Brighton.
Luke Wells is not expected to be available for Eastbourne's home match against Brighton.

Mark Tomsett is urging his Eastbourne cricketers to find a necessary balance between aware and relaxed ahead of their must-not-lose clash with Brighton and Hove this weekend.

The relegation fears that Tomsett and team have been trying to quash for some time now are being forced into the forefront of their minds as they face fellow cellar dwellers Brighton in one of just seven matches left this season.

It’s no secret the club are in danger of the drop and this weekend’s match could be pivotal in their chase for survival, with Brighton sitting just 43 points above the Saffrons club.

Tomsett said, “It’s definitely a crucial game and one that, while we’d love to win it, we absolutely cannot lose.

“Naturally you feel pressure heading into games like this but we need to find a balance between making sure the players are aware just how important the match is, but not making them feel too much pressure about it.

“We need to be as relaxed as possible and treat it like any other game.”

Last weekend proved disastrous for Eastbourne as they lost by seven wickets to East Grinstead while relegation rivals Bexhill and Brighton both picked up impressive wins against top sides, adding a renewed importance to this weekend’s fixture.

The results have left Eastbourne rooted at the bottom of the Sussex 1st XL Premier Division, 36 points adrift of Bexhill and with the possibility of being stranded in the basement should Brighton win this weekend and pull away from the drop zone.

Eastbourne will take a glimmer of hope from the fact they do still have a game in hand on their table neighbours, although Tomsett is reluctant to focus on that.

“We don’t want to rely on our game in hand. Ideally, we want to climb out of the relegation zone before we play that match against Sussex Development squad in August.

“We’ve got seven matches left and while we’d like to think that winning three or four of those will go some way to making us safe, you can never tell in this league.

“Obviously we’d love to win all seven but we just need to do as best as we can.

“It was disappointing not to be able to build on our win against Bexhill. Every time we try and build some moment, we fall at the next hurdle - we take one step forward and two steps back.

“We’re twelve matches in now and the table isn’t going to lie. Now that the weather’s nice, we need to make sure we train as much as we can, keep our heads down and continue to play cricket as best we can.”

ABOVE: Luke Wells is not expected to be available for Eastbourne’s home match against Brighton