Red Kites make hard work of local rivals in cup clash
A BRACE from captain Richard Thomas was enough to see Henley Town through to the second
A BRACE from captain Richard Thomas was enough to see Henley Town through to the second round of the Reading Senior Challenge Cup.
In truth, they might have defeated Woodcote/Stoke Row by a clearer margin but for some wayward finishing and a stand-out performance by goalkeeper Mark Pearson.
Thomas struck his first in the third minute after meeting a corner struck to the near post by Richard Bennett after several failed attempts to clear the danger.
But Woodcote hit back almost immediately when, with eight minutes gone, Jack Dillon was tripped in the penalty area.
He got up to slot the ball home past 17-year-old goalkeeper Nathan Dow, who was making his debut for the Red Kites.
Then, after 20 minutes, midfielders Grant Kemp and David Stevens capitalised on some indecision in the Woodcote defence which allowed Kemp to cross the ball to Bennett who headed home from close range.
Two minutes later, Pearson made a great save in a one-on-one to keep the visitors in the tie.
On 35 minutes, Dillon got away from the Henley defence on the right but his effort was saved by Dow at the second attempt.
Henley doubled their lead on 37 minutes when Kemp showed great strength to hold off his marker to drift a cross to the back post. Asa Povey headed the ball back across the area to be met by Thomas to double his tally.
The Red Kites should have been out of sight at the break when a forward latched on to a misdirected header from Jim Hancock. Pearson was fast off his line and did enough to put off the Henley attacker, who shot wide.
Woodcote adopted a more attacking style in the second half following a back-four reshuffle which helped them get a better grip on the game.
But Henley still had some good openings and Pearson had to be at his best to claw away a chip which appeared to be over him. He then further distinguished himself with a splendid double save. The introduction of Dave Givens for the visitors saw a string of good crosses into the box and Toby Nowell, on the other flank provided the pace which had been lacking in the first half.
Nowell got past his defender on numerous occasions and both he and Jonny Summers had goal-bound efforts deflected wide as Woodcote began piling on the pressure.
Their efforts finally paid off in the last five minutes when the Henley defence failed to clear an attack.
The ball came loose to Tommy Chapman who fired a well-struck low shot through a crowd of players and into the net for 3-2.
Woodcote continued to attack but couldn’t get the equalizer. Henley had a chance to end the game when a forward broke through the defence but shot wide.
Elsewhere, Rotherfield United were knocked out of the Senior Cup 1-0 at home to Westwood United.