Ghazanfar at the double to give Ramblers an extra boost
Conference North round-up
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.