Saturday, 23 June 2018

Rann sent off as depleted Town side suffer defeat

HENLEY TOWN fell to their biggest defeat of the season at Potash Lane on Saturday, writes John Bailey.

HENLEY TOWN fell to their biggest defeat of the season at Potash Lane on Saturday, writes John Bailey.

This was no great surprise in view of Milton’s record in Division 1 East of the Uhlsport Hellenic League so far and the fact that the Town were without no fewer than six of their normal squad.

The Red Kites also had a player sent off for the first time in the current campaign.

Milton stood third in the table before the match, with a game in hand over the two sides above them. In the week, they had beaten last season’s divisional champions, Rayners Lane, 4-0 in a cup tie. They had also strengthened their squad in the last few days, with Josh Cottrell, the outstanding player at Wantage Town when they finished as Premier Division runners-up last season, in the starting line-up and two other new signings introduced from the bench. For all that, Milton looked a good workmanlike team but not quite like potential champions.

Their task was made so much easier because Henley lacked the services, through a mixture of injuries, illness and work commitments, of Mitch Cooper, Billy Gordon, Richard Thomas, Sam Cripps, Adam Jeffrey and Jordan Sawyer, all of whom were named as selected in the match programme.

There was little to choose between the sides in the opening exchanges, but, 2-0 down at the interval, the Town never seemed to have enough ammunition to salvage a point after that.

The Miltonians were the first to produce a worthwhile shot, when Jamie Newport cleared the crossbar before Henley forced the first corner. Graham Sims was sent in by Brett Rann but his shot was well saved by Craig Griffiths. Patrick Howe retaliated for Milton but Ashley East smothered his effort.

Howe had better fortune at the 32nd minute when he picked his spot and curled the ball just inside the foot of the post. Jamie Fairchild shot just over the bar for the Red Kites, but, three minutes before the interval, Howe set up Robert Joyce for Milton’s second goal.

Henley responded with some spirit in the short period before the break. They made their best attempt of the game when, from a good ball by Dan Faherty, Matt Godwin sent in a drive, but Craig Griffiths palmed the ball away. Faherty again posed a threat with a long angled ball that almost crept in at the top far corner of the net but Griffiths again managed to keep his goal intact.

The Town replaced Sanchez Commack with Louis Howell when the second half got under way, but, within five minutes, they were further behind from a bizarre goal. Daniel Cox-Rogers stuck out a leg as a clearance was going past him, with little idea of where the ball would finish up, but it was enough to wrong-foot goalkeeper East, who almost fell over trying to reposition himself. He still managed to get a hand to the ball, but it finished up in the net.

Milton were forced to make a substitution when Ross Tyler left the field with what turned out to be a fractured jaw.

Little occurred after that except that Brett Rann was sent off for a second yellow card in the 80th minute. It was an expensive afternoon for Henley, with Graham Sims, Jamie Fairchild and East also being booked.

Newport sent a good chance over the bar while Warren Baxter saved the Town by putting the ball out for a corner before Warren McCabe, possibly offside, was foiled by a point-blank save by East.

Henley Town: East; Faherty, Baxter, Nunn, K Sims; Clark, G Sims, Fairchild, Godwin; Rann, Commack (Howell, 46 mins).

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