Adam Dellar has set Haverhill the target of winning two of their last four games in order to avoid relegation from the top flight of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship.
The Manor Road-based outfit entertain basement side Braintree on Saturday (12pm) sitting just one place above them in the Division One table but — more worryingly —they trail third and fourth-from-bottom Frinton-on-Sea II and Mistley by four and 16 points respectively.
Captain Dellar is not hiding away from the importance of this weekend’s encounter and he is targeting the first of those two wins to give their survival hopes a boost.
“I feel like to stay in this league we’ll need to win two out of our last four games,” he said. “The pressure is on us and the boys need to stand up and be counted.
“That’s the key message I’ve given them. If they want to stay in this league then we’ll need to win two out of the four games left and give everything. It would be a disaster for the club to drop down to Division Two, we’re better than that.
“We’ve only won four games but we should have won eight. Saturday is massive, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t. We’ve got to win.”
Haverhill visited title-chasers Wivenhoe last weekend and, after losing the toss, did well to keep the home side’s batsmen under a tight rein.
Wivenhoe’s Australian overseas Liam Hope-Shackley was the main aggressor and his century was the mainstay of their innings.
The wickets were shared around as Harry Harding, Dan Pass, Will Bailey and Josh Ruthven all took two each, with Pass taking the prized wicket of Hope-Shackley, who finished on 122 from just 65 deliveries.
Wivenhoe ended their innings all out for 256, with Haverhill’s reply starting slowly — not helped by the departure of Dellar, caught on the mid-wicket boundary early in the innings.
A decent partnership between Anthony Phillips and Chris Palmer hauled the visitors back into the game, but when Phillips was out for a well-crafted half century, the innings stalled as the Wivenhoe bowlers took back control.
As the required run rate gradually increased, a late unbeaten half century from Dave Humphrey was not quite enough for Haverhill. Phillips had earlier departed for 53 and Humphrey finished on 55.
The away side ended their innings on 217-8 and were defeated by 39 runs, but they did take home the maximum 10 bonus points for their efforts.
“We were in this game for long periods and the Australian overseas player was the main difference between the sides,” Dellar added.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes on to play at a much higher level than this.”