CAPTAIN Jamie Perkin is in a defiant mood as Oxford face a battle on their hands to avoid relegation in the Home Counties Premier League.

His side suffered an eight-wicket defeat against Finchampstead on Saturday – when they were dismissed for just 86 – and are now 34 points from safety in Division 1.

After describing some of his team’s batting as “naive”, Perkin turned his attention to the battle to avoid the drop.

“There are still six games to go and I reckon we need to win at least three of them to have a chance of staying up,” he said.

“It’s difficult, but we definitely won’t give up, even though we’ve had only one victory this season so far.”

That success came against tomorrow’s opponents Henley, who are at home for the return clash.

“I still regard Henley as probably the strongest side in the league, so it’s amazing to think that we’ve beaten them and nobody else,” said Perkin.

Oxford make one change with Freddie Simon coming in for the unavailable John Barrett.

Horspath may have extended the gap to the relegation zone, but will not be resting on their laurels at home to Finchampstead.

The side have been held to draws over the last couple of weeks, but have picked up vital points.

Captain Will Eason is fully aware his side can ill-afford to let their standards drop.

He said: “The gap has opened up slightly.

“However, we can’t have two weeks where we don’t get results and they do and it flips the other way.

“It’s really important we keep the momentum going and hopefully we can get ourselves a couple of wins – that will really help.”

Horspath are forced into three changes, with Robbie Eason, Tom Cosford and Liam Manley coming in for unavailable trio James Fitzjohn, Jehan Mohammad and Milly Faruq.

Batsman Chris Watling says Aston Rowant are ready for a tough run of games that are sure to test their title credentials.

The side’s lead at the top has been cut to four points, but an eight-match unbeaten run means confidence is high.

Rowant travel to High Wycombe tomorrow, before taking on Slough and Tring Park over the following fortnight.

And Watling, who is unavailable this weekend, believes they are ready for the challenge.

He said: “They are all big games now, but we’ve got a few tough weeks coming up.

“We’re still in a great position and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”

Alex Ferreira is also unavailable, so Andrew Tolson and Alex Jewell come in.

Banbury travel to Tring Park and bottom side Thame Town take on Slough.

Basement club Shipton-under-Wychwood hand a first team debut to Brad Bryant for their match at home to Burnham in Division 2.

The left arm-seamer is one of four changes to the side following their 72-run defeat by Wokingham.

Also coming in are Luke Champion, Callum Taylor and Jason Hunt, as skipper Anupam Sanklecha seeks support for the Miller father-and-son team, who shone against Wokingham.

Shaun Miller, who insisted he did not want to play for the first XI this season, took 5-88 with his left-arm spin, while his son, Charlie, made a dashing 90.

Sanklecha said: “Shaun just has to play as he is the only spinner in the club, while Charlie is a fine batsman.

“We must find support for them.”

Great & Little Tew bid to make it back-to-back wins when they host Datchet.


Oxford (v Henley, away): Tong-Jones, Nutt, Dickinson, Ayub, Perkin, Sadiqi, Simon, Mendis, Murphy, Musk, Humphreys.

Horspath (v Finchampstead, home): Coleman, O’Connor, Hawtin, Brown, Green, W Eason, Robertson, Belcher, R Eason, Cosford, Manley.

Aston Rowant (v High Wycombe, away): Reid, Condon, Smith, Pendered, Morrick, Moriarty, Bethell, Muttitt, Harris, Tolson, Jewell.

Shipton-u-Wychwood (v Burnham, home): C Miller, Sanklecha, Champion, S Miller, C Taylor, Norgrove, Marstin, Wood, Hunt, Bryant, Rehman.