CHRIS Watling is confident Aston Rowant can build on their vital win when they make the trip to Division 1 leaders Henley tomorrow.

A 125-run victory over Horspath lifted Josh Smith’s side out of the relegation zone and ten points clear of the bottom two.

It was only their second win of the Home Counties Premier League season, but batsman Watling believes Rowant have more than enough quality to continue climbing the table, starting at the defending champions this weekend.

He said: “Obviously it was a crucial win and much needed.

“We feel throughout the season we’ve got ourselves in really good positions against pretty much all the teams, especially the top sides, and we should’ve got over the line.

“But when you’re under the pump a bit you find ways of not quite crossing the line.”

Watling added: “With the group of players we have, we back ourselves to get enough wins to at least stay up and maybe push into the top half.

“We’re not going into this weekend worrying about Henley, we will stick to our plan and hopefully it will pay off – it would be great to turn those boys over.”

Rowant make three changes, with Wes Morrick, Elliot Mathews and Hayden Rossouw returning.

They replace Dan Matthews, Adam Muttitt (both unavailable) and Dom Whatman.

Skipper Lloyd Sabin wants his Banbury side to find some consistency in the second half of the campaign.

The north Oxfordshire club sit fourth, but are 35 points behind second-placed Datchet.

Banbury travel to High Wycombe tomorrow and Sabin is hoping his fledgling team can continue to improve.

He said: “We’re slowly figuring out how we want to play our cricket and we’re still a relatively young team.

“There’s still an element of inconsistency, which I would like to crop out.

“We’ve been like that over the last few years because we’re a young side, but I’m hoping we can work on that.”

Last week’s defeat at Buckingham Town saw Banbury slip further behind the top two.

And Sabin believes the next couple of weeks will be important if they wish to pose a threat to Henley and Datchet.

He said: “I think last week was a big result. If we had won that we’d be hanging on in there.

“We can still challenge, but we’ll have to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”

Banbury make one change, with Richard West coming in for Tom Bartlett.

Will Eason is calling on Horspath to dig themselves out of trouble quickly.

Last Saturday’s defeat saw the side drop to the bottom of the table.

They find themselves 13 points adrift of tomorrow’s visitors Tring Park, who occupy the spot above the relegation zone.

Although the season is only at the half-way point, captain Eason stressed the need for a quick turnaround in results.

“We have got a lot of hard work to do over the next three or four weeks,” he said.

“We’re in a position which no-one wants to be in and we’re looking up at everyone else.

“We’re conscious that we can’t let a cluster of teams pull away from us.

“I wouldn’t say Saturday is a must-win game, because there’s still a lot of points to play for.

“But if we can get a result that would help put us back in amongst the pack.”

Horspath make three changes, with Tom Coleman and Asad Rafiq unavailable, while Will Hawtin drops to the second team.

Tom Cosford, Dom O’Connor and Mark Skelton return.

Jamie Perkin says he is delighted with Oxford’s first half of the season – but believes there is room for improvement.

Division 2’s pacesetters sit 23 points clear after winning eight of their nine games.

Oxford travel to third-placed Harefield, who are a further ten behind, tomorrow knowing a victory would further bolster their promotion bid.

But captain Perkin, who is unavailable, stressed the need to stay level-headed.

“We’ve spoken about that (creating a gap to third place),” he said.

“If we win or get a positive result, I think that will put us in a really good position.

“It almost gives us a two-game cushion over third.

“But it’s got to be about taking it one game at a time and if we do our job over the next nine weeks, we don’t need to worry about anyone else.”

Perkin added: “It’s been a very positive first half of the season but, as everyone knows, nothing is won yet.

“I still don’t think we’re playing the best cricket we can as a team, there’s still more to do.”

Harvey Eltham will captain the side, while Calvin Dickinson (finger) is not risked, so Rob Craze and Balaji Ramalingam come in.

Perkin knows his players will have to be at their best.

He said: “We’ve got a couple of missing and it will certainly be the first real test of our squad. But we’re in a good place at the moment.”

Thame Town are hoping to continue their terrific run of form.

Four successive wins have seen Michael Beard’s side climb to second.

That run, which includes a win over Oxford, was extended with a convincing nine-wicket triumph over Amersham last weekend.

Beard has been impressed with the way his players have responded to the disappointment of relegation in 2018.

“I’m really pleased,” said the skipper.

“We’re ahead of where we thought we would be.

“The goal was a top-half finish, but we’ve been in good form in the timed format.

“Hopefully we can continue that and have a good run at promotion.”

Beard added: “Coming off the back of a difficult year, a lot of people were low on confidence.

“We’re now on a bit of a roll, particularly with the ball, Johannes (Van Dyk) and Faisal (Ali) have been outstanding and we’ll always have a decent shot when that’s the case.”

Thame will be bidding to make it five wins in a row when they travel to Burnham.

Mike Higgs replaces the unavailable James Adams.

Oxford Downs sit seventh in their debut season.

George Sandbach’s side will be looking to arrest a four-match winless run when they host bottom side Dinton.

And they are boosted by the return of opener Chris Sandbach and Luke Maslen.

Captain George Sandbach is feeling upbeat ahead of this weekend.

He said: “The inclusion of Chris is great for the team as this steadies our batting order significantly.

“It’s also exciting to have three Oxfordshire U17 players (Maslen, Freddie Smith and Prav Chahal) who are in great form at the moment.”


Aston Rowant (v Henley, away): Reid, Coles, Condon, Smith, Fitzjohn, Watling, Bethell, Harris, Morrick, Mathews, Rossouw.

Banbury (v High Wycombe, away): Sabin, White, Yousaf, Clarke, Tait, Hill, Rana, Whiteley, Wright, Thomas, West.

Horspath (v Tring Park, home): R Eason, Hopper, Brown, Green, W Eason, Faruk, Belcher, Heritage, Cosford, O’Connor, Skelton.

Oxford (v Harefield, away): Eltham, Nutt, Ayub, Simon, Tong-Jones, Mendis, Fallah, Humphreys, Keat, Craze, Ramalingam.

Thame Tn (v Burnham, away): Beard, Ebsworth-Burland, C Russell, Sutcliffe, Mushtaq, Ali, Van Dyk, Warner, A Russell, Jeffcock, Higgs.

Oxford Downs (v Dinton, home): C Sandbach, Smith, Watts, G Sandbach, Ellwood, Costley, Sillars, Slatter, Crouch, Maslen, Chahal.