THE Saffrons will host a crucial basement battle this weekend as Eastbourne face relegation-threatened neighbours Bexhill.
Both clubs are languishing at the foot of the 1st XL Premier League, with Eastbourne 35 points worse off than their rivals ahead of their clash this Saturday, albeit it with a match in hand.
It’s been a tough season for both teams, having each lost five of their matches so far this campaign.
However, while Eastbourne continue their slump having only one win to their name against Worthing last month, Bexhill’s form has picked up lately and they head into the fixture on the back of two consecutive victories.
It could mean confidence plays a big part in the match, although captain Mark Tomsett has previously insisted the spirit and belief among his side has not faltered following their string of bad results.
Last weekend saw them crumble to high-flying Horsham, losing by five wickets despite fielding three Sussex players in the form of Ben Brown, Luke Wells and Callum Jackson.
Eastbourne declared at 160-8 and posed little problem for third-placed Horsham who reached the total in just 32.1 overs and with five wickets to spare.
The result means Eastbourne have lost 50 percent of their matches so far this year and relegation is becoming a significant threat as they reach the halfway stage of the season.
Captain Tomsett admitted he felt the club would have improved their fortunes on the pitch by now after they unexpectedly struggled right from the word go.
He said, “If I’m honest, I thought we would have turned it around by now.
“We want to move away from the relegation zone as quickly as possibly because the longer it gets, the more pressure there is.
“We still have confidence among the team because in most of our matches so far this season, although we lost, we played good cricket.
“If we carry on doing that, I’m sure the results will start coming in soon.
“We just don’t want to start becoming reliant on other teams’ results or going into a game knowing we need to win it, that’s when the pressure is on.”
Relegation would be disastrous for the local club, who have spent the last decade and more challenging near the top of the division.
Years of consecutive third-place finishes were encouraging for the blossoming club, but so far this campaign, they have failed to find their footing and are now faced with a dog-fight to stay in the division.
This weekend presents a must-not lose game for Eastbourne, who will be stranded in the cellar of the league if Bexhill were to pull away from them with maximum points from their encounter.
The teams drew when they met earlier this season and no doubt the contest will be equally as close on Saturday with everything to fight for in both camps