Ghaz­an­far at the dou­ble to give Ram­blers an ex­tra boost

Con­fer­ence North round-up

The Hockey Paper - - MEN'S PREMIER DIVISION - By Jake Stevens

DEE­SIDE Ram­blers skip­per Ali Ghaz­an­far is con­fi­dent his re­freshed and rein­vig­o­rated side can upset the odds next week and be­come the first team this sea­son to knock off Durham Univer­sity.

Ghaz­an­far, the Con­fer­ence North top scorer with 12 goals al­ready this cam­paign, grabbed a dou­ble last week as the Ram­blers came from three goals down to snatch a 4-4 draw with high fly­ers Bow­don.

That draw lifted Ghaz­an­far’s troops to fifth in the ta­ble and they are tar­get­ing the top four when they head to Durham this com­ing week­end.

They will have their work cut out for them against the ta­ble top­pers, who are a per­fect 13 from 13 as the sea­son ap­proaches the busi­ness end.

But the for­mer Pak­istan in­ter­na­tional and drag-flicker ex­traor­di­naire in­sists his side can upset the odds.

“From 4-1 down, to come back and get a draw against Bow­don re­ally felt like a win,” he said.

“And it could have been even bet­ter, we should have had one more penalty cor­ner at the end but the um­pire didn’t see that it hit the de­fender’s foot.

“Af­ter the game the ref­eree saw the re­play and apol­o­gised to us – I had al­ready scored two and a third would have won it.

“We had a great run be­fore Christ­mas but the last cou­ple of weeks have been tricky. We needed a good per­for­mance and that has re­ally lifted the spir­its.

“As soon as we come up against a good op­po­nent we lift our game – I sup­pose that is the na­ture of sport – and we are feel­ing con­fi­dent about fac­ing Durham.”

Cham­pi­ons back in the 2009-10 sea­son, the Ram­blers fin­ished sixth last year and are look­ing even higher this sea­son.

“When we won the league we were fear­less – if you don’t think you can win there is no point in turn­ing up,” he added.

“We be­lieve we can beat Durham. We lost 3-2 at home but it was a very close game. We are aware of their strengths, they are very good in mid­field.

“But I am quite con­fi­dent that af­ter a tough cou­ple of weeks we are com­ing back.

“For us the top four is where we want to fin­ish. We are in a good po­si­tion at the mo­ment and with some key games com­ing up against teams around us.

“If we get some­thing out of this Durham match then I think we can go on and make the top four.”

Durham come into the game on the back of a 5-0 cruise past Leek that saw Tom Gra­ham bag a dou­ble in ad­di­tion to strikes from Rory Pat­ter­son, Michael Walker and Adam Jones.

Af­ter Bow­don were held by Dee­side, Ol­ton and West War­wicks took full ad­van­tage to leapfrog them into sec­ond cour­tesy of a 4-0 win over Don­caster – Oliver Ward, Jack Wil­liams, Ed James and Joseph Paul with the goals.

At the other end of the ta­ble, Can­nock claimed what could prove to be a vi­tal 1-1 draw with Sh­effield Hal­lam thanks to Kyle Glad­win’s late equaliser.

And Pre­ston re­main the team for the Ram­blers to catch in the top four as they hit Ox­ton for six.

Ju­lian Lopez scored twice while Robin Tay­lor, Ben Hey­wood, Adam Wil­son and Owen Fletcher were all also on the score­sheet in a 6-1 win.

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