Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Town face tough cup challenge on their travels

FOLLOWING last week’s defeat in the FA Vase, Henley Town remain in cup tie mode tomorrow

FOLLOWING last week’s defeat in the FA Vase, Henley Town remain in cup tie mode tomorrow (Saturday) when they visit Oxford City Development in the first round of the Bluefin Hellenic Challenge Cup, kick-off 3pm, writes John Bailey.

The position concerning the teams under the wing of Oxford City Football Club grows ever more confusing. Not only do the semi-autonomous Oxford City Nomads play in the Hellenic Premier, where their opponents include Henley Town, but Oxford City Development have this season joined Division 2 (East) while Oxford City Nomads Development play in Division 2 (West).

At first glance, a game against a team from the same division as Henley’s reserve team might make their supporters suppose that the senior side have had an easy draw. This is unlikely to prove the case as City’s development side stand top of the table, unbeaten and with a 7-1 victory over the much fancied Milton Keynes Academy directly behind them.

It is not too surprising that Henley have never beaten City’s first team in their occasional meetings over the years, but in the 17 clashes with their reserve side starting in 1902/03 they have won only five times with no games drawn.

The Town were again reminded last week that when a club begins to build a stronger side it soon becomes the victim of predators. The loss of top goal-scorer Nile O’Meally to Thatcham Town is likely to prove a severe blow.

More encouraging is the new light in which Henley’s early departure from the FA Cup by an unflattering 3-1 margin at Brimscombe and Thrupp can be seen now that Brimscombe are the last Hellenic side left in the event. After beating the Red Kites, they also put paid to Highmoor/Ibis, Peacehaven and Telscombe and Brislington, and they are now due to travel to Weymouth in the third qualifying round.

Henley Town Reserves entertain Milton Keynes Academy in the league tomorrow, kick-off 3pm. It was no difficult task to pick the reserves’ side last weekend as they had to field the only 11 players who were available when they were visited by bottom-of-the-table side Wokingham and Emmbrook Reserves.

Once they had let in goals in the eighth and 20th minutes, Henley were inevitably chasing the game, but they reduced the arrears in some style five minutes later when Ben Bedford played a clever diagonal ball to Hugh Barklem, who took the ball on a pace to elude a defender and placed the ball past the keeper.

After the interval, the Town again got off to a bad start, conceding further goals in the 50th and 53rd minutes. But with 20 minutes remaining, Barklem was brought down in the box, and Dan Bridger efficiently converted the penalty. With three minutes left, Barklem latched on to a poor clearance by the goalkeeper, who made partial amends by keeping out the shot, but only for Bridger to score his second from the rebound.

The youth team visited Premier Division Aylesbury Youth in the Allied Counties League Cup last week, going down 5-3. Liam Tindell scored twice for Henley, with Henry Horton adding the third goal. On Wednesday, the youths entertain Buckingham Athletic Reserves in the league, kick-off 7.45pm.

The Sunday team are at home to Woolhampton in the first round of the Ted Cambridge Cup, kick-off 10.30am.

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