Saturday, 25 November 2017

Pressure pays off as Harding's close-range equaliser earns side share of the spoils

HENLEY put in a good display at Bromley and Beckenham on Saturday as they dominated long periods of play and were only denied all three points due to the impressive form of the home goalkeeper.

The hosts, who had won all five of their opening matches of the season, started the sharper of the two teams. The home side’s early dominance was rewarded with a goal on six minutes as Henley failed to track all the runners and a ball across the circle from the left flank found a player unmarked on the edge of the circle, and he fired into an empty net with ease. Henley stuck to their game plan and began to get a foothold in the game. The back line of Sam Heaver, Tom Walter, Rob Rowe and Ed Hughes-Burne started to marshal the movement of the forwards and an efficient team press stopped the home side from moving the ball with the same fluency they had shown in the opening minutes and forced regular turnover ball.

Having started to gain some control in the middle of the park the next challenge was to break down a well organised Bromley and Beckenham defence. Geoff Joseph and Luke Gupta worked tirelessly upfront to provide a platform for the attack, but for the opening 20 minutes Henley struggled to make inroads into a well set defence.

On 24 minutes Henley were awarded their first short corner and this was duly converted following a slick move which saw Luke Gupta break his duck for the season as the ball hit a defenders foot and appeared to have already crossed the line as Jonny Taylor bundled it in to make sure.

The rest of the first half saw Henley grow in confidence as they started to exert increasing pressure on the home side’s defence.

The home side were more direct with their passing in the second period, often going to an aerial approach, but failed to ruffle an organised Henley side.

Henley dominated the opening minutes of the second period as Steve Harding, Ed Foster, Benji Hetherington and Rhys Joyce bossed the middle of the park. Man-of-the-match Hetherington had been afforded a lot of space in the first half, and despite being more closely marked in the second half was dominant both in ball winning and distribution and alongside Joyce gave Henley the platform to counter attack with regularity.

Harding and Foster were able to get forward more easily as the home side looked to push men forward. The opening few minutes saw several opportunities come and go for Henley before the home side scored a goal following a break of their own on 40 minutes.

Henry Emmett, who had made a couple of crucial saves early in the first half, looked to have a speculative shot from the top of the circle covered before Tom Walter’s attempted interception diverted the ball past the stranded Emmett.

Undeterred the visitors continued to create the better chances. Steve Harding rounded the keeper sublimely but could only find the sideboard, while Joseph and Gupta both brought good saves from the keeper from open play, as did Hetherington and Ross Hibberd.

Eventually the pressure told and on 50 minutes Henley scored the equaliser as Steve Harding finished from close range after a move down the right flank involving Joyce, Heaver and Hibberd.

Henley dominated most of the last quarter winning a succession of short corners that brought the best out of the home side’s keeper. The home side rarely threatened until a small flurry with five minutes to go saw Bromley and Beckenham camped inside the Henley 25 but resolute defending ensured there was minimal threat.

Henley 1sts: H Emmett, S Heaver, R Rowe, E Hughes-Burne, T Walter, R Hibberd, J Taylor, E Foster, S Harding, R Joyce, B Hetherington, G Joseph, L Gupta.

NEWBURY 2nds hit back to earn a share of the spoils at Jubilee Park against hosts Henley 2nds on Saturday.

Henley got off to a slow start as Newbury’s hard working high press made it difficult for them to break off their own half.

The movement of Henley’s front line and the skilful returning Fred Newbold created a good deal of pressure around the Newbury D without presenting much in the way of clear cut chances. Soon after a sweeping move down the right was turned in to the D at pace and converted from close range by Richard Woolfrey.

Henley enjoyed a spell of dominance after the goal and looked the more likely to score again in the subsequent minutes as they kept the game higher up the pitch, but it was a break away that saw Newbury find an equaliser.

In the second half the home side had much the better of the possession as the visitors energy levels dropped and Henley’s fullbacks had an easier time getting the ball upfield but the hosts found it difficult to break down a stoic defence.

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