Herons hoping to swoop for the cup

PUBLISHED: 09:00 05 September 2014

Wanstead captain Arfan Akram

Wanstead captain Arfan Akram


Wanstead and Ilford battle it out in showpiece final

Captain Arfan Akram wants his Wanstead players to put their disappointment at missing out on the Essex League title to the back of their minds and lift the League Cup on Sunday.

The defending champions saw their reign come to an end with defeat at Brentwood as rivals Chingford sealed the Premier Division title.

The Herons host Loughton in their final league fixture of the season on Saturday, before turning their attentions to a mouth-watering Essex League Cup final against old foes Ilford on Sunday.

“Firstly, congratulations to everybody at Chingford for their successful season,” said Akram.

“We’re not a side that feels sorry for itself, so we must play to win our final league match at home to Loughton.

“We want to preserve that second spot in the table, and also keep the momentum going for our very important cup final against Ilford on Sunday.

“It’s critically important that we bounce straight back from this disappointment. It’s important not to let it get us get down and more important to see how we react to this latest setback,” he added.

With the league business out of the way for another season, the Herons play host to their nearest and biggest rivals when Ilford come to Overton Drive.

Wanstead will be slight favourites for the final, having won all three of their previous derby meetings with Ilford this season.

Akram’s men followed a 23-run win in a limited overs league match in May with a 10-run triumph in the group stages of the Dukes Essex T20 competition.

And they won by six wickets when the sides met in a timed match at Valentines Park last month, after Joe Ellis-Grewal (5-45) and Zain Shahzad (3-46) shone with the ball.

After the washout of the final on its original date at Belhus, Wanstead won the toss for venue, taking the match to their home base.

“Despite our match results during the season, this really is a contest between two evenly-matched sides,” added Akram.

“We’re obviously traditionally great rivals, but we have a game plan and we’ll make sure we’re well prepared.

“We’ll apply our skills, we are a strong team and on our day are a match for anybody. I’m very happy with the squad we have here at the moment,” he added.

Ilford captain Shaz Hafeez is not too peturbed about playing the match at Wanstead, saying: “As our local rivals, we know their ground pretty well, and it’s no distance so we’ll have plenty of support.

“For the same reason, we know all of their players very well and have a plan for each of them on Sunday.”

With results going against them this season, Hafeez added: “I guess you could call them our bogey team, but we have a full squad to choose from. I have to select 12 for the match, but that’s a nice problem to have.”

■ Wanstead host England captain Alastair Cook and an Essex XI as part of his Essex benefit on Saturday week (September 13). Play starts at 2pm.

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