Harold Wood facing a ‘must-win’ fixture

Richard Brabner in bowling action for Harold Wood (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Richard Brabner in bowling action for Harold Wood (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Brabner knows success against Loughton could be crucial to survival hopes

Harold Wood will be aiming to toast successive league wins for the first time in a year as they play host to fellow battlers Loughton tomorrow (Saturday).

Wood collected their first league success this season with a tight 11-run victory over defending champions Chingford last week.

The result allowed the team to move out of the relegation zone, having occupied it for much of the campaign to date.

By pure coincidence, it was Loughton who replaced them in the bottom two ahead of their crucial match.

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And Richard Brabner, whose tenure as stand-in skipper looks set to be over with Tom Clarke likely to return tomorrow, says the match has grown in importance.

“It’s a massive game. They slipped below us following the last round of matches which has made this game even more important,” said Brabner.

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“If we can pick up another win this weekend, then there will be a nice gap between ourselves and the bottom two.”

The two sides clashed on the opening day of the season, when Loughton won by 12 runs despite having been restricted to just 234-9.

Burhan Mahmood performed admirably with the ball for Wood in that encounter, ending with six wickets.

But his efforts proved to be in vain as Loughton’s Bilal Butt did damage with both bat and ball.

And Brabner, who is unavailable for this weekend’s reverse fixture, knows where Wood must improve if they are to be more successful this time around.

He added: “I remember they’ve got a few good players. Bilal played pretty well against us in that fixture.

“But we performed badly with the bat. It’s a total we should have chased down, but instead we lost narrowly.”

Wood did not perform badly with the bat against Chingford as half centuries from opener Hamza Ahmed (62) and Raihan Hussain (79) set them well on their way to 222-9 from their 50 overs.

Shahbaz Khan finally showed what he is capable of for the first time this year as he claimed the scalps of four Chingford batsmen to give his team hope of beating last year’s league winners.

The game was set for a grandstand finish with Chingford 203-9 with little over five overs remaining.

Maruf Chowdhury took the all important final wicket with Chingford 11 runs shy of victory to hand Wood their first win this year.

A repeat performance against Loughton would set them well on their way to pulling clear of the bottom two.

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