Essex Division Two: Gidea Park ready for ‘biggest’ game against promotion rivals Belhus

PUBLISHED: 15:00 05 August 2016

Gidea Park captain Jamal Francis (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Gidea Park captain Jamal Francis (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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

Skipper Jamal Francis knows importance of match in race for the title

Jamal Francis believes Gidea Park & Romford’s trip to Belhus in Essex League Division Two this weekend is one of the most important matches in the club’s history.

Just 15 points separate leaders Belhus from Park in second, with Oakfield Parkonians a further four adrift in third.

And with just five games left in the current season, captain Francis is fully aware the clash on Saturday will go a long way to deciding who wins promotion to Division One.

“Since I’ve been involved with the club, I don’t think we’ve faced a bigger match than this Saturday,” said Francis.

“We’re playing Belhus at a really good time. Everyone is on form and the challenge of the title race is bringing out the best in everyone.

“We need to assert ourselves early on and make sure we put Belhus under as much pressure as we can, as soon as we can.”

When the two teams met earlier in the season, Park were unfortunate not to record a win over Belhus after scoring 183 in the timed match.

Francis’ men reduced their rivals to 151-9 in reply, but could not take the final wicket as the tail-enders held firm for a draw.

But a result is guaranteed in their 50-over clash this weekend and Park hope that favours them in the crucial match.

“Everyone in the league knows that Belhus are a tough side, but we’ll take confidence from that game, knowing we had them in such a position,” he added.

“If the match was just a couple of overs longer, we would have won that day, but in this format there is either a winner or a loser.

“It may come down to the wire again, but we’ve realised that we are a match for anyone as long as we play at our best.”

Francis will also be gunning to prove a point himself at Belhus, having fallen one run short of a century against Old Southendian last weekend.

Thankfully it did not prove costly as Park were able to win by six wickets and Francis admits the result helped ease the pain of missing out on a ton.

He added: “Thankfully it hasn’t happened too often in my career, but it is part and parcel of the game.

“Shawn Findlay and I dug in and played sensibly, and of course I was disappointed when I was dismissed, but that went as soon as we got the win.

“Southendian were not too far away in the race for promotion before the game, so it was more important to get the win than for me to get a century.”

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