HENLEY 2nds ran out winners at home to Sonning last Saturday in a vital MBBO Division 2 relegation showdown.
Henley set up in their usual 4-4-2 formation with the intention of defending resolutely but pressuring the opposition when possible.
The game started cagily and it soon became apparent that Sonning were just as concerned about conceding as Henley.
Henley took advantage and pushed forward, seeking to score early and dominating territory for large swathes of the first half.
Although Sonning conceded territory, possession was more equal as both teams looked nervous on the ball.
Early on the ball ricocheted off a stick and Rowan Austin received a cut above the eye. His brother, Dan Austin provided the perfect replacement.
As the half progressed, Henley’s two forward positions rotated between Jeremy Hughes-Burne, Chris Maidlow and Guy Harmer and they pressed the Sonning backs uncompromisingly.
With Henley’s advanced position it did allow Sonning some space to run into and they launched one particularly dangerous counterattack, the Sonning forwards managing to isolate Dave Bowyer in goal. Only a last ditch tackle by Oscar Wiseman saved Henley from falling behind.
Eventually the pressure did tell for Henley as Edward Hughes-Burne showed pace and persistence to get to a loose ball on the left wing, before driving the ball across goal. Guy Harmer stretched to make contact with the ball, which popped up for James Wood, who arriving at pace knocked it downwards into the far side of the goal.
In the second half, Sonning gradually worked their way into the game and began to create chances for themselves.
As Henley started to tire, they found it more difficult to retain possession and the pressing became less vigorous. As the game entered the final quarter the ball was fed to Guy Harmer, who bore down on the Sonning keeper before slipping it left for Terry Pollard to slot home.
Henley 2nds: Dave Bowyer, Ian Roberts, Rowan Austin, Dan Austin, John Boumphrey, Oscar Wiseman, Alex Price, Ed Hughes-Burne, Terry Pollard, James Wood, Jeremy Hughes-Burne, Guy Harmer, Chris Maidlow.