Thursday, 19 July 2018

Cottam sets up winner-takes-all promotion clash for final game of season

HENLEY 3RDS travelled to Aylesbury on Saturday knowing that a win would keep them in the race for back-to-back promotions.

The visitors were bolstered by the return of Tim Barrass who has a proven knack of scoring key goals at critical moments in tight games.

But they fell behind soon after the start when a defensive error once again gifted a goal to the opposition.

In reply, Henley’s midfield began to dominate with some aggressive tackling and intelligent moves led by Richard Nicholson and Jack Draycott. The defence transferred the ball across the back at pace, with James Moore and Mike Woolfrey making incisive passes to find Barrass and Timothy Herbert up front while John-Joe Cottam looked dangerous on the right wing.

Henley were awarded a penalty corner and Barrass called for the ball to be slipped to the left. Mike Woolfrey obliged and Barrass rifled an unstoppable shot past the goalkeeper.

The second half began with Henley’s defence in control although their attackers were unable to convert their chances.

But, with 15 minutes remaining, Barrass beat three defenders before finding Cottam at the far post who managed to scramble the ball through the defence and over the line to take the lead and the three points.

Their final game of the season on April 7 is against Oxford, and Henley will need all three points to overtake them and claim the remaining promotion position.

HENLEY LADIES 3RDS put on a strong start against Aylesbury.

Rosie Wilkinson was passing the ball well while Holly Verran made many runs into the D but with no luck in what was a tight game.

Rosie Kemp then found herself on the ball and showed some great skill before Henley took the lead through Wendy Mcloughlin.

Henley did not want to take their foot off the gas and Verran and Hanna Webber kept the opposition under pressure with their passing while Ella Shute made some great strides towards Aylesbury’s goal.

There were plenty of attempts at goal at both ends and Aylesbury made one count with an equaliser just before half- time. Henley made a good start to the second half, enjoying near-total possession.

Verran was unlucky not to get a shot away after a run into the D but was foiled by a resolute defence.

Meg Hearn tried her luck with a forward pass, as did Pippi Heath, but the attackers had no luck in front of goal.

Defensively, Jess Stevens secured the ball when it was heading for the goal, Mcloughlin provided support with some good tackles and Phoebe Houldsworth-Bianek worked with the ball well but could not unlock the Aylesbury defence.

But as the game wore on, Aylesbury saw more of the ball but Henley were equal to them, helped by some fantastic saves from goalkeeper Kiri Cheeseman to keep the score at 1-1, which was how the game finished.

After the game, the team said farewell to Webber, who is leaving the club because she is moving to Norway.

Meanwhile, the side also paid tribute to this season’s top performers.

Pippi Heath had been nominated as their most improved player while Rosie Kemp was named as their player of the season.

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