Hastings Priory Cricket Club is determined to come back stronger from relegation.
Priory were condemned to the drop from the Sussex Premier League following a narrow defeat away to Eastbourne in their penultimate game of the season last weekend.
First team coach Ian Gillespie said: “It’s a big blow, but it enables us to look at ourselves and hopefully come back stronger. We’ll be planning from this weekend how we’re going to be competitive to get back up.
“There’s a determination to (win promotion next from Division Two next year), and there’s a confidence and belief. There’s enough good cricket been played this year to feel that if we can iron out one or two faults and strengthen in one or two areas, we will be very competitive and hopefully come straight back up.”
Priory have won just two league games - although they’ve come very close in several others - during a summer in which they picked up five victories en route to the quarter-finals of the ECB Royal London Club Championship.
“I think we feel looking at some of the games that were very close that we’re a better side than a team at the bottom,” continued Gillespie. “The last couple of weeks we’ve played like a top three team. We suffered two or three heavy defeats, but a lot of defeats were very close.
“There’s probably been 15 games where three-quarters of the way through we were in with a decent shout to win and possibly even favourites, but we didn’t manage to get over the line in those.
“Critical games where we had teams nine (wickets) down could easily have gone our way and we would’ve finished fifth or sixth, something like that.
“When you get into a run of not winning, confidence goes, belief goes and however good you might be on paper, the team struggles a bit.”
Priory will visit some unfamiliar venues next season with the fixture list set to contain trips to places like Ifield, Lindfield, Findon and Pagham, plus a local derby against Crowhurst Park.
“There are reasons we are where we are,” added Gillespie. “We lost a county player in Josh Poysden at the start of the season and our overseas player we had to change as he (Dave Lowery) got a job and decided not to come over.
“Obviously we’ve lost Harry (Finch - due to Sussex commitments) a lot. What we were expecting to be our first team never took the field.”