Portsmouth skipper Dave Henderson believes his team have stamped out the complacency that threatened their promotion hopes
The Southern Electric Premier 2 leaders reeled off seven straight wins to set the pace at the top of the table but were then shocked when they had their colours lowered by Bashley (Rydal) II two weeks ago.
With a few questions being asked over their character, they answered them in style when they hit back with a three-wicket success at Tichborne Park last weekend, writes Steve Wilson.
And they now travel to third-placed Paultons tomorrow as they embark on the second half of the campaign, which they hope will culminate in promotion to division one.
Henderson said: ‘After the start we had, complacency was always going to be the biggest risk and I think there were a few guys turning up to that Bashley game thinking that we had already won it.
‘I think that bit of complacency crept in and it showed when Bashley batted sensibly and did the basics really well.
‘They deserved to beat us on the day and we could have no complaints.
‘We dropped two catches and missed a run-out and didn’t play very well on the day.
‘But I think it actually did us a bit of a favour.
‘Everyone was so grumpy on that Saturday night and the following few days that I think it helped.
‘It gave us a taste of defeat and it ruined a lot of weekends.’
Henderson knows his men will face some tough examinations of their promotion credentials in the next few weeks, especially against second-placed OTs & Romsey in a fortnight’s time.
But he is confident his men can finish the job if they can come through the next three fixtures in good shape.
He said: ‘We are at the halfway point of the season.
‘We’ve played nine, won eight and lost one and we certainly would have taken that record at the start of the season.
‘We are pretty happy with where we are but we’ve got a big few weeks ahead of us.
‘We’ve got Paultons and they are third in the table, then we play Sparsholt who are struggling but then we’ve got OTs & Romsey and they are second.
‘OTs have also got Hampshire’s Chris Wood who has been playing for them and that has distorted some of the games because he is class player.
‘But if we win two of those three, we would be where we want to be.
The statistics give an indication on the way Portsmouth’s season has unfolded so far.
They have just one man in the top-10 batsmen in the SPL2 standings with Jack Marston (233 from nine innings) at number eight.
But it’s their bowling where they have excelled.
Australian quick Pat Burns is the leading wicket-taker in the division with 22 victims, while team-mate Vikram Dawson is joint-second with 19.
And it was a similar tale last weekend.
Henderson said: ‘We bowled and fielded really well last week. A few more runs would be nice but if we can maintain our standards in the field, I will be very happy.’
Paultons: Richman, Robinson, Wateridge. Hall. Feltham, Drake, Collins, O'Brien, Lamb, Pike, Denney.
George Marshall has answered an SOS call and returned to Hambledon in a bid to help them climb away from division two relegation trouble.
The 26-year-old opening batsman hit 881 runs in a prolific season for United Services back in 2011, which included a remarkable run of three centuries in four weeks.
A subsequent move to Totton & Eling didn’t work out and Marshall has not played seriously since.
But having started his Premier League career at Ridge Meadow, Dons skipper Rob Atkins is hopeful his new recruit can give the bottom club a lift for their home clash with Tichborne Park.
Atkins said: ‘He hasn’t played for a while but he’s a quality player. It might take him some time to get back into the swing of things but it’s good to have him on board.’
Marshall comes in for the unavailable Jack Lavous, while 15-year-old Henry Glanfield, a Norwegian Under-21 international, replaces the out-of-form Paul Vickers. Rupert Hetherington also returns.
Atkins said: ‘It’s probably the strongest side we’ve been able to put out this year but it’s taken half the season to get to this point. Hopefully, we can start climbing the table now.’
Hursley Park host a Bashley (Rydal) II side buzzing after four straight wins, while OTs & Romsey expect to be at full strength as they push their promotion claims at Langley Manor, who are without the Noble brothers, the siblings have a wedding date at a local cathedral.
Waterlooville's Adelaide import Paul Williams plans to build on his record breaking knock of 190 when the table toppers host Southern Electric Premier Division 3 cellar dwellers Alton II at Rowlands Avenue.
The Kensington Grade left-hander smashed an SPL3 best against Totton & Eling II last week.
It's second placed Trojans turn to play the junior Eels in round 11, while Havant II visit Gosport Borough, whose fourth defeat last week by Lymington II probably ended their prospects of a second consecutive promotion.
Promotion chasing South Wilts II go to Basingstoke & North Hants, while Lymington are at St Cross Symondians II.