Clarke’s excited to welcome back Shaz

PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 June 2015

Harold Wood batting against Brentwood (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Harold Wood batting against Brentwood (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

Former captain Hafeez returns to face Harold Wood

Tom Clarke expects Harold Wood to come up against familiar foes when they play host to Ilford tomorrow (Saturday).

The sides currently occupy the bottom two positions in the Essex League Premier Division table after six games this year.

But despite the pair having just one league win between them so far, skipper Clarke believes it will be an entertaining match.

“We know a lot of their players and we know that when they do fire, they should not be anywhere near the bottom,” he said.

“Last year when we played each other, we won one and they won the other, so we know it will be a tough challenge.

“They’ve kept a lot of the same squad from last season, so we know that they will come at us hard and looking for a win.”

One Ilford man who will be more familiar than most to Harold Wood is Shahzad Hafeez, who spent several years as a player at the Gubbins Lane club.

And captain Clarke is eagerly anticipating the return of his former team-mate to his old stomping ground, adding: “It’s always good to see Shaz.

“He’s a friend of the club and he’s kept in contact with everyone. He captained the club for a number of years, so there are some good memories.”

Wood warmed up for this week’s clash at home to Ilford with a narrow one-wicket loss against title chasers Brentwood.

With the game reduced to 39 overs a side, Clarke’s men reached 173 all out thanks to an impressive knock of 47 from Hamza Ahmed.

Brentwood chased that total down with only three balls to spare, but Clarke remains confident the good times are just around the corner for his side.

“They guys are all positive about our performances and a lot of our younger players are doing well. We know we’re close to turning teams over,” he added.

“We’ve just got to keep going. When we get that first win, we hope it starts a good run of form. But we know we still have to take it one game at a time.

“We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, but it’s very tight at the bottom. Get a couple of wins and the league begins to look very different.”

A win against Ilford this weekend would be a good way for Wood to start altering the standings.

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