Ilford set for “huge fixture”

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 July 2015

Shaz Hafeez of Ilford (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Shaz Hafeez of Ilford (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

Hafeez aware of importance of Loughton game

Shaz Hafeez believes Ilford’s match with Loughton could go a long way to deciding who is relegated from the Essex League Premier Division.

Ilford find themselves in the relegation places at present, but just 14 points separate bottom club Harold Wood from Loughton in seventh.

Victory away from home this weekend would see Ilford move above Loughton and Hafeez is fully aware of the importance of the match.

“It’s definitely a big game with both teams battling against relegation to Division One,” he said.

“But after winning our last game, we hope to keep the same XI who will go into the game with massive confidence.

“It also looks likely that Aron Nijjar and Saf Imtiaz might be playing more often for us now, so having two lads that have played for Essex breeds confidence.”

Hafeez skippered the team to their first victory in seven matches as they beat defending champions Chingford last time out at Valentines Park.

The result hauled them off the foot of the table and Hafeez wants to continue to move up the standings, adding: “We’re notoriously slow starters.

“Sometimes that is down to availability, but in recent years we seem to have a more settled squad in the second half, so let’s hope that’s the case again.”

Victory on Saturday would give Ilford back-to-back wins for the first time since August 2014.

And if Hafeez and the team are looking for any inspiration, they need look no further than when they beat Loughton in the second match of this campaign.

“We bowled well and we kept them down to a good total. We were cruising in reply before a wobble, but we we able to grind out the win,” he added.

“Bilal Butt is a dangerous player, but we know man for man we’re stronger in limited overs.”

Ilford will be hoping that confidence is not misplaced.

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